A Lover of Books

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Interview with Julia Gibbs


Today I have something slightly different on my blog.  It’s an interview yes, but not with an author.  I am pleased to introduce you to Julia Gibbs who is a proofreader and copy editor.


How long have you been proofreading for?

Actually, ever since I could read – but for a living, about 10 years! I was brought up in a house full of books, and it became second nature to me.


What sort of documents do you proofread?

Mostly novels, but I’ve also proofread memoirs, theses, and self-help books.


How long on average does it take you to proofread a manuscript?

Hard to say. It depends on how much I have to correct. A manuscript with errors in every paragraph takes a lot longer than one with a couple on each page. On the other hand, the latter can lull one into a false sense of security, as one must not speed up while reading. I only work on one book at a time, in order to immerse myself in the author’s world, and I reckon on 7 to 10 days, approximately.


You must have come across some funny typos. What’s one of the funniest you have seen?

You bet I have, and I wish I could remember them all. I recently wrote a blog post about them, which you can read here. I hope it’ll amuse you. https://juliaproofreader.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/10-funniest-typos-and-a-couple-more/


What qualifications do you need to become a proofreader?

Number one qualification – make sure you can do it properly! Now, this might come from education, experience or a combination of both. Would I recommend taking one of those proofreading courses that you see advertised? Not unless you’ve got money to spare and time on your hands. You see, although you are bound to learn a thing or two that you didn’t know before, these courses will not teach you, for instance, how to punctuate correctly; which is knowledge you need to already possess. Yes, you really do need to know how to use a semicolon! As Tony Blair said; education, education, education.

People occasionally contact me, asking for my advice on how to become a proofreader. As well as the above, I also advise them to proofread someone’s novel free of charge, in order to get some practice and find out their strengths and weaknesses. The author will be pleased to have an extra pair of eyes to read their book. Everyone’s a winner.


Do you ever get fed up with proofreading or is it varied?

You may be surprised to hear – no, I don’t! A friend once asked me how I could bear to spend my time poring over books looking for little mistakes. I said to her, ‘but that’s what I love doing, so it’s hardly a chore’. I love the minute that I open a new piece of work, and I also love the feeling a few pages in, as I start getting into the story and get the feel of how the author writes, learning their style and all their foibles.


Describe a day in your life.

I am woken around 11 a.m. by my houseboy, Raoul, who brings me breakfast in bed. Then my social secretary comes in to discuss the day’s engagements. After a 2-Martini lunch with some of my clients, I get a visit from my stylist, hairdresser and make-up artist, who prepare me for my dinner date. At 7 p.m. Tom Hiddleston arrives bearing a bottle of champagne and a single orchid, to whisk me off to dinner in Paris via his private jet. Well, I get up and answer emails and go on Twitter before I’ve even had breakfast, and then after breakfast I go to dance class (to avoid sitting on my posterior for the entire day!) The rest of the day is just working, and I stop when Pointless comes on BBC 1 at 5.15 p.m! (I love Pointless, I appeared on it on 26th April) and you can read my blog post about it. https://juliaproofreader.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/lights-camera-action-my-appearance-on-bbc1s-pointless/

So really, like most people, my day consists of work. And I usually carry on again right after dinner. Sorry to sound so boring!


Can you ever see yourself writing a book?

No, never had any desire to write, and can’t imagine how you authors can create a short story, still less craft a novel! Seriously, I take my hat off to you guys, how do you do it?!


Who are your favourite authors?

How long have you got? Jane Austen, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Jackie Collins, Nora Ephron, Edith Wharton, Curtis Sittenfeld, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, PG Wodehouse, Damon Runyon, Jake Arnott, Bill Bryson, Dorothy Parker, Olivia Goldsmith, Kate Atkinson, Andrea Newman, Nancy Mitford, PJ O’Rourke, Guy de Maupassant. And soooo many others, but that’s enough for now, I think.


How can people get in contact with you?

Thanks for asking! People can contact me here:


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