What It’s Like To Proofread Romance Novels
When people find out I proofread romance novels for a living, they tend to get very excited and want to know everything about what I do. Most people can’t even believe that such a job exists! But it’s real, and I’ve been doing it almost every day for well over a decade now.
My friends love to tell people I read romance novels for a living. One friend even asks me to “speak romance” as a party trick. Which I never do because what is that even? (Basically she wants me to speak cheesy, like Pepé Le Pew.)
Today I’m going to give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a freelance proofreader for romance books, and how you can get started. Btw, I do proofread other book genres, as well as other content like scripts, blog posts, reports, and marketing and communications materials. Romance is one of my niches, and I have a roster of clients with whom I have continual projects on the go.
How I Started Proofreading Romance Novels
I didn’t intend to get into romance novels when I packed up my bags and went to publishing school. In fact, I had dreamed of working in women’s magazines or editing “serious” literature. I had studied Russian, French, and South American literature in university, and never once thought of romance as something I was interested in. Of course I had read some romance novels as a teen, but they weren’t something I wanted to pursue professionally.
After I completed my post-grad program in publishing, I worked briefly as a freelance proofreader and editor. When I heard about an opening at Harlequin, a global publishing house, I decided to apply—and landed an in-house proofreading job!
Did you know that romance books are a billion-dollar industry and one of the top categories in Amazon? It’s a serious business, as I quickly learned.
Harlequin is the largest publisher of women’s fiction in the world, and is known mostly for their romance novels, although they do publish books in various genres under numerous imprints. Harlequin was a great company to work for, and I really enjoyed my time there. When a company’s biggest day of the year is Valentine’s Day, and everything is women-centric, how can you go wrong?
As soon as I started, I fell in love with my job. I fell in love with the stories. I was shocked to find myself getting teary eyed over romance. Romance has its share of tragedy, I’ll tell you that. And most importantly, I was delighted to discover that romance books are full of strong, independent women. The romance stories I was reading were SO different from the ones I had read as a teen.
After a few years working in a corporate environment, I left my cubicle to break out on my own and freelance. As much as I loved my coworkers and the company, I realized that I’m just not suited for the 9 to 5 life. The company has very high editorial standards, and provided me with incredible training in proofreading and copyediting, so I felt totally confident in my abilities to make it as a freelance proofreader.
What It’s Really Like To Proofread Romance Novels
This is the BIG question. Everyone wants to know, so I’m going to be 100% truthful.
It’s entertaining and enjoyable and I can’t believe I get paid to do it. I’m grateful every day that I get to sit down and get lost in a romance story and fix errors I come across. I’ve never been bored once.
I even briefly entertained the idea of writing romances, like my friend Vicki So, who is also a proofreader.
Every writer has a different voice, and while all of the books are centered around romance, each story is unique. Depending on the subgenre, some books are lighter on romance or heavier. For example, in a dramatic thriller novel, romance will be a subplot meant to drive character development. Whereas in a medical romance, finding love is the central theme.
How You Can Start Proofreading Romance Novels
Can you proofread romance novels, too? With the proper training and guidance, you definitely can. I think it’d be great if more people did. You can do it full time as a freelance proofreader or as a side hustle. To see if proofreading is the right fit for you, you can take my free Proofreading 101 course to get started.
And if you can proofread romance books, you can definitely work on other genres, as well. If you want to learn even more about proofreading books, I’ve got a workshop webinar coming up on how to proofread blog posts and books. You can enroll and save your spot in the box below.
The Downside To Proofreading Romance
The only downside is that some people don’t take romance seriously, and as a result, they look down on me and can be condescending. They judge my skills based on the genre, and fail to realize that proofreading romance books is exactly the same as proofreading a sci-fi or mystery novel, or even “serious literature.”
Fiction and nonfiction books all require the same proofreading and copyediting skills, including knowledge of the same editorial tools and processes. It doesn’t bother me, though, as I see it as their problem and not mine.
What My Day Is Like
As a freelance proofreader and editor, I tend to juggle a few projects in a day. Some days I dedicate to proofreading a book and nothing else. I love these days because I can just hunker down with a cup of tea and read all day. This is what my day is like when I proofread romances:
- The usual routine of getting my son ready and dropped off at school
- Yoga, meditation, and administrative and marketing tasks
- Make coffee, settle on the living room couch with my laptop, and proofread a book for a couple hours
- Take a walk in my neighbourhood and pick up lunch at one of the many eateries. Usually a panini sandwich, sushi, or a burger
- Eat lunch at home while I watch an episode of House Hunters International (love this show!)
- Check email and do some social media marketing
- Back on the couch with my laptop, and proofread until it’s time to pick my son up from school
- No work until my son has gone to bed
- Proofread for an hour
- Spend time with hubby watching tv or catching up over tea or wine
- Sometimes if I can’t sleep or the book is really good, I’ll squeeze in another hour
What I’ve Learned
I’ve discovered that romance is everywhere. It adds depth and character development to any story, and it’s something everyone can relate to. Who doesn’t want to feel love—to give and receive it? It wasn’t until I started working with romance that I realized I’m a big romantic at heart. And you know what? After all this time, I still cry, laugh, or cheer over a good love story.
Do you like romance novels? Which are your favourites? Tell me in the comments below!