Proofreader on the Prowl– Nick Wale interviews LoriAnn Murray-Linek

LoriAnn Murray-Linek– child of the eighties and traveler of the world has gone into business proofing and editing manuscripts. Now, I’m a guy who needs editing. You can ask people I’ve interviewed and they’ll tell you that without editing, Nick Wale is a windbag. So, of course, it delights me that my wife-to-be is a grammar gremlin. Let me tell you, she is one helluva proofreader! Just ask her clients!

Q) Hi, Lori– nice to see you have a moment to spend with your husband-to-be! Tell me a little about yourself. It’s about time I asked!

A) Well, I had the privilege of growing up with parents who loved reading and all the arts, really, so I’ve always been around massive quantities of books. I was an “oops” kid they had late in life, so I essentially grew up an only child. I frequently had to amuse myself and, for me, that meant hours with my nose in a book of some sort.

As a result of reading about so many different subjects, my own interests are wide and varied. I’ve worked as a travel agent, spent several years teaching English as a Foreign Language in Korea, did a stint as a paralegal, have a degree in computer networking, and another in pharmacology. Medicine is a love of mine and one of my specialties is writing about medical subjects– especially alternative medicine. I’m also a keen philatelist and cross-stitcher.

Q) What drew you into the world of proofreading and editing though? Surely, you’d rather be writing?

A) I do love writing and I feel good writers make the best editors and proofreaders. If one loves the storytelling process, then it’s easy to guide another writer to improve their own writing style in an effort to craft a great story. I’m also terribly OCD– one of the curses of being a classic Virgo. As a result, I’m very detail-oriented and catch little things many people might not see such as a missing period or a wayward quotation mark. I seem to have a natural penchant for English grammar, but I do often rely on my trusty reference manuals, as well!

Q) So how do you feel about proofreading and the editing process? Do you feel you are hired to add to the story? Or do you feel that your job is to make the story run smoothly and efficiently to make the writer’s work look good?

A) I’ve heard a few horror stories about editors who have picked apart and re-worked a story to such a degree it was nearly unrecognizable to the author. My view is much more conservative. My strength definitely lies in making a manuscript look good and read smoothly– proper grammar, subject-verb agreement, punctuation, formatting, etc. However, I will make suggestions from an editorial perspective where appropriate. For example, I might suggest “better” word choices, recommend removal of extraneous material that may detract from the plot line, bring attention to “holes” in the story, suggest additional character development, if necessary, etc. For the most part though, the author has crafted a work of art that should be minimally changed to preserve the integrity of the product. I see my part simply to make it flow smoothly to the greatest degree possible.

Q) So why should an author pick you for their proofreader? Why are you special?

A) First of all, as a writer myself, and my own worst critic, I am very gentle when it comes to criticism. Nobody wants to hear, “This is crap. Throw it out and start over!” I see one of my primary roles as one of guide, and if I can help a writer to grow in the perfection of their art, that is very fulfilling for me. There are gentle ways to communicate changes to be made. It doesn’t have to be a harsh, nasty business.

Secondly, I’m prompt. Jobs are usually delivered when I originally promise them (frequently earlier), and if there’s a snag, I will communicate immediately. I always answer emails and stay in close contact with people.

Finally, I’m an easy person to work with. I’m quite easy-going and pleasant (if I do say so myself!) I truly enjoy interacting with many different kinds of people.

Q) You recently underwent brain surgery and then gall bladder surgery. How does it feel to be back in the saddle working?

A) Wonderful!! I didn’t even know I had a brain tumor for several months before it was diagnosed. All I knew was I felt I was slowly circling the drain. I’m a naturally energetic person and feeling so badly for so long really took a toll on my psyche. A few months after I was back on my feet after brain surgery, I was back in the hospital having my gall bladder removed and was down for another month after that. Suffice it to say, I’m done with major medical issues for a while! Fortunately, I have had plenty of downtime since then to really regain my strength and feel one hundred percent again. I’m raring to go!

Q) Ready to take on the world? What kind of work do you like to do? What kind of manuscripts send you into a frenzy?

A) I love all great stories, regardless of genre. I’m not a big horror fan, but I am still happy to proofread a horror manuscript. Axe murderers and Zombies still need to use correct punctuation, after all!

At the risk of divulging one of my biggest secrets–that I am a complete geek–I really like academic and technical documents, especially anything related to medicine. My first editing job when I was a teenager was re-typing and editing a manual for a hospital radiology department. It was over two thousand pages long. Originally, I was only meant to re-type it; but, since I have these wonderful OCD tendencies, I was fixing errors as I went along and re-wrote parts to improve readability. When the head of the Radiology Department saw the first few chapters, he said I had actually made it enjoyable to read! If that doesn’t make me a geek, I’m not sure what does.

Q) Well, if the head of the Radiology Department was impressed, that’s enough for me. You’re hired! How much are you?

A) I prefer to base pricing on the complexity of the project. To that end, I request a sample– the first ten pages or first chapter usually suffices. A relatively “simple” project–one that needs only proofing, minor grammatical changes and very light content editing, for example– runs $3 per page (12 point font, based on a average of 280 words per page).

A “complex” project–a manuscript with many grammatical and punctuation errors, formatting problems, and requiring more editorial “body work” is $8 per page.

A manuscript that falls in the middle will be priced appropriately.

I don’t charge a flat rate because every document is different.

Q) So how can people get in touch with you?

A) I’m constructing a website that will be live at the end of this month. Until then, contact me through Facebook (LoriAnn Murray). You may also email me at proofperfectinfo (@)

Well guys, you’ve heard it yourself and now I’m telling you again. Need a proofreader? I have a fiancee who is happy to take on those duties! Thanks, honey!

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