Freelance proofreading is a form of proofreading in which the proofreader takes in work from a wide variety of clients, working independently rather than being employed by a specific publisher or company. Many proofreaders work as freelancers because they enjoy the flexibility of the work, the ability to set their own hours, and the ability to negotiate prices directly with clients. They can take on work directly from authors, as well as take contracted work from publishing houses and printers. Every piece of printed and mass-distributed material needs to pass under the eyes of a proofreader at some point, and skilled proofreaders are in high demand.
A proofreader looks over a manuscript for errors in spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. Proofreaders can review work which an author is preparing for submission to an agent or editor, weeding out major problems so that the work is more presentable, and they are also involved in the preparation of work for publication. After an editor goes over a work for tone and style, the proofreader corrects basic errors so that the work can be typeset, and the proofreader may review it again after typesetting to confirm that it is error free.
Freelance proofreading is not the same as freelance editing. Both editors and proofreaders are fundamentally important in the publishing process, but they perform different tasks. Editors review the overall content of a work; they edit for clarity, style, and tone. Proofreaders are not interested in content, but in the fundamental structure of a work. They may also review an editor's changes to ensure that the author's voice is maintained, checking against the original manuscript to confirm that the editor did not accidentally change the author's intent.
One of the big advantages to freelance proofreading is that it can be done at home, rather than in an office, allowing the proofreader to set up an effective workspace, save money which would have been spent commuting, and set a schedule which works. Some people like to work at night, for example, while others may prefer early days, and freelance proofreaders can also care for children, run businesses, and engage in other activities which would not be possible for an employee who is chained to an office.
Freelance proofreading also allows people to decide how much or how little they want to do, and to pick and choose clients to work with. Proofreaders who work for publishers and companies which offer proofreading and editing services may not be able to be so choosy. Freelancers can handle books, articles, brochures, and an assortment of other types of printed material. Freelance proofreading can also include a specialty in specific types of printed material or work, such as novels, scientific articles, or children's books.