What to Do When You Can’t Afford a Proofreader

affordable proofreading

If you have been searching around for a proofreader lately, you may have found that many are outside your budget (like, waaaaay outside). At the same time, knowing that you’re human and all, you understand that you need someone with even a little expertise and experience to look over your work to make sure it’s as clean as possible. Here are some cost-effective alternatives to hiring a proofreader that can work for you as long as you’re willing to put in a little bit of elbow grease and time.

Be Part of the Proofreader’s Marketing

Showing off your skills when it comes to proofreading can be difficult. You can stage some markups, but it’s not quite the same as being able to show someone what that last Toni Morrison book looked like before and after the proofreader got their hands on it. Try asking the proofreader if they would be willing to take on your project with the understanding that they can use your original, error-laden text as part of their marketing for their business. They still may not proofread your work for nothing, but you may be able to work out a significant discount, or at least a flexible payment plan.


Recruit Volunteers

If you are a Volo Press Proofer reading this, you know what’s coming!

Another option for lower cost proofreading is simply to recruit avid readers who can help review your work for mistakes. All I did was put up a Craigslist ad and I had over 10 people sign up within about a week. You could ask friends and family members (the ones that don’t kiss your ass just because they know you) and co-workers as well. You’d be surprised–I know I was–at how many people are not just willing, but excited to help you with your project. Don’t underestimate the kindness of strangers!

And while I mail printed manuscripts to my crew, you could also email a digital version to them, or share a Google Doc with them and let everyone read and comment throughout the day. If you have a little bit of money to offer them, I’m sure they would appreciate it. I have so many, there’s no way I could pay them all more than, say, a dollar! But I do my best to offer my Proofers a worry-free experience by giving them everything they need to complete the project without them having to buy their own tools (i.e., an extra envelope, return postage, a highlighter, and a red pen that are theirs to keep), offering prizes for various project-related accomplishments (such as a quick turnaround or finding the biggest mistakes in the piece), and making sure that I credit them in each book. Play around with these ideas until you find something that works for you.


DIY Proofreading

It’s not impossible to do your own proofreading, it just usually isn’t as effective as having someone else look at your work. This is because, psychologically, you always understand what you meant to say because you’re the one who wrote it. This means that it’s easy for things like missing words and commas in strange places to slip right past you. However, when someone without your brain reviews a piece, it is a lot easier for them to spot certain kinds of errors.

If you think you really have no other option than to proofread your own work, there are a couple of ways you can make that endeavor more successful.

One method it to read aloud. When you have to read the words out loud, you’re more likely to catch when a passage is unclear or a word that you used in a sentence doesn’t quite fit.

The other is to read at about half your normal pace. Slowing down makes it a little easier to find the mistakes you would normally miss because you’re reading too fast.

One more strategy is to read the piece multiple times. I usually try to take at least a 48-hour break between readings. I’ve found that stepping away from a piece allows me to come back to it with eyes that are more fresh.

Of course, the triple threat is always the best. If you read your piece slowly and aloud at least twice, no one can fault you for whatever mistakes do slip through the cracks. These methods take a level of patience and commitment that would drive most people up the wall. But, being the literature freaks we are, it’s a labor of love that we gladly engaged in.


If you are ready to do any or all of these, kudos to you and good luck! If I just stressed you out by telling you what it might take to side-step hiring a proofreader, I’m always available to help with your blog posts, dissertations, resumes, or novels. Visit my proofreading page to learn more about proofreading at a penny per word!

Happy writing!

You Lose $21 Every Time You Buy Paper

save money paper volo press

It may seem obvious to some, but I’ve recently run into fellow authors who believed they were really getting a deal by paying $5.00 for a ream of paper or maybe $40 for a 5,000-sheet case. I can’t see how 1.1 cents per sheet or $4 for a ream is a deal (then again, I have to be resourceful with my budget.).

Below is a basic rundown of a recent search I did online that gives you some cheaper options. The last case I bought lasted me multiple years due to digital sharing, critiquing, and delivery being standard for most of my publishing and editing needs. Don’t waste money on something you might not even use that often. Bulk up and store it, like I did!
For 5,000 sheets of white copy/multi-purpose, 92-bright, 20-lb paper: 

Amazon.com: $51 = $0.0102 per sheet / $5.10 per ream

Office Depot (Sale): $33 = $0.0066 per sheet / $3.30 per ream

Office Depot (Standard): $49 = $0.0098 per sheet / $4.90 per ream

Costco: $37 = $0.0074 per sheet / $3.70 per ream

Sam’s Club: $30 = $0.0060 per sheet / $3.00 per ream

For this search, Sam’s crushes the competition with a mere six tenths of a penny per sheet, compared to Amazon’s 1+ penny per sheet (almost twice as much!).

Even comparing total bills, you would save $21 by purchasing paper at Sam’s, versus online with Amazon (sadly, $30 of that $51 was JUST SHIPPING!).

Wholesale Membership

For those of you who don’t have a membership to a place like Costco or Sam’s (use this link and get $20 for joining), please consider signing up. For between $40 and $50 per year, you can rack up some fantastic savings, even if you never purchase bulk food there.

For example, when my bank account’s looking a little faint, I love to go to Sam’s to grab lunch (or dinner…or a snack…you get the picture).

Why? Because I can get a slice of pizza larger than my hand and an extra large drink of my choice for less than $2.50. Most places will charge you that much just for the drink. So, conservatively, you’re looking at at least $5 for the same lunch anywhere else.

If I eat lunch like this at Sam’s just twice a week, I’ll save $20 a month or $240 per year. This is how a $50 membership exponentially pays off! And this isn’t counting other home essentials I buy for my family, including paper towels, shampoo and conditioner, toilet paper, laundry detergent, or dish soap.

The discounts are similar for other non-perishables like pens, dishes, desks, books, bulk notebooks and writing pads, dry erase markers, and more.

If you found this post helpful, how would you have felt if you had gotten this information 6 months ago when I first sent it out to my writing newsletter subscribers? Sign up now and get these kinds of tips, tricks, and knowledge sent straight to your inbox twice each month! 

Thank You, Lacey!


Lacey O. has shown that she is generous (on top of being gorgeous and talented) by providing an Investor level donation to the construction of ‘The Den:’ a new literacy center planned for the Atlanta Metropolitan Area (East). Her donation was large enough to secure an advanced POS system, a business license, and wall fixtures. With a few more donations at this level, The Den will be up and running in no time!

Be a Lacey! Donate today!

Character Development: Taking Offense

volo press writing services

It’s helpful to have a strong, realistic understanding of who your characters are so that they behave believably and consistently throughout your story. Knowing what might offend your character and why is a great place to start building their personality so that you can help it come through in your writing. Here is a list of questions to ask yourself about your character in this regard.


  • What are three things that would make your character become disgusted with someone they loved (such as their mother or their spouse)?
  • Throughout their life, when has your character been confronted with things or situations that lead them to feel offended?
  • When your character has been offended, what deeper emotions were involved (anger, disrespect, disgust, fear)? Why did it matter so much to them what someone else said or did?
  • When your character has been offended, what have they done about it? Did they organize a formal protest? Sit in their room and stew? Become violent?
  • Do people around your character know what offends them and what doesn’t? How? Has the character openly voiced their opinions or have people been able to pick up on how they feel through obvious or subtle behaviors (word choice, avoidance, facial expressions, etc.)?


Answering these kinds of questions can help you more solidly understand your character so that your work reflects a realistic person reacting believably to the story as it unfolds.




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Still need some help? Order a Character Profile Review at Shop.Volo-Press.com now and start getting help tailored for your specific story. 



You Can’t Sit Still While Listening to This

painless by t l curtis ft james tracy

James Tracy applied his musical knowledge to create this fun, rhythmic sound that you can’t help but at least nod your head to. James was commissioned to complete this piece based on the lyrics of ‘Painless,’ a song included in the poetic collection Feign II: The Downfall by T. L. Curtis (available for pre-order now; set for release on 9-1-17).



Books are as essential as breathing. Visit shop.volo-press.com to get your fill!

Favorite Sex Position: Character Development

Many people who write fiction try to have an intimate knowledge of the character’s that they are creating. In theory, having such a deep understanding about even small details related to a character can help the character be written in a way that appears genuine, realistic, and three dimensional to the reader.

This post contains pictures of naked people in the sexual positions I will be listing later in the post. You’ve been warned. 


One intimate question you may want to answer about your character, even if you are not writing any erotic scenes, is what their favorite sexual position is? More importantly, why? Is is about comfort, speed, intimacy, or emotional distance?

Starting to ask yourself these kinds of questions can help you add more layers to your character so that they have a stronger “page presence” and are more likely to resonate with your readers.

Don’t Judge Your Character

Just because you don’t like, wouldn’t condone, or don’t plan to attempt a certain sexual position, doesn’t mean that your character would feel the same way. If you can’t separate yourself from your character you could slip into making all of your characters very much alike because they’re behavior never goes outside of your personal comfort zone.

For example, the main character of Show HerErika Wogo is a doggy style lover. Considering the trauma she endured at the opening of the book, I don’t think I would enjoy that style at all if I were her. I wouldn’t ever want to even try it, most likely. But again, that book wasn’t about me: It was about Erika.


Sexual Positions

Here are a couple of common sexual positions. I’ve added some possible reasons why people might enjoy these positions (besides pleasure, of course!) just to help you start thinking more about which positions your character might like and why. A simple Google search will turn up a multitude of other sexual positions to choose from.



A  lays on their back and opens their legs. B settles between A’s thighs and penetrates the anus or vagina. Variations can be created by changing angles and leg positions, or adding bondage equipment or pillows.



This position is most often depicted in romance novels and movies, so it’s often considered “boring.” Your character may prefer it if they are someone who is:

  • afraid of change
  • doesn’t like to take risks
  • doesn’t enjoy sex (they don’t want to put a lot of effort into being ‘creative’ so they just copy what they’ve seen / heard of others doing)


Doggy Style

A gets down on their hands and knees on the floor or bed. B penetrates the anus or vagina while standing or kneeling from behind.


Can reflect or support the idea that a character:

  • Is not a fan of intimacy (they want as little eye contact and physical contact as possible)
  • Doesn’t like being hot. This position allows for great air flow, especially when the air conditioner has gone out or they’re having sex outside (camping trip?) and it’s ridiculously hot.
  • Has had an injury that doesn’t allow them to open their legs wide, so squeezing them together while bent over is more efficient / comfortable for sex.


Writing is Life. 


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