Economics of Proofreading

Proofreaders Proofreading cannot be fully cost-effective where volume or unpredictable work flow prevents proofreaders from managing their own time. Examples would be thermographic trade printers of business cards, network hubs, and newspapers. The problem in each of these environments is that jobs can’t be put aside to be re-read as needed.

Economics of Proofreading

In the first and third example, volume and deadlines dictate that all jobs be finished as soon as possible; in the second, jobs presently on-site at the hub are hurried, regardless of their formal deadline, in favor of possible future work that may arrive unpredictably. Where proofs can programmatically be read only once, quality will never be superior on average. Instead, it will randomly but persistently fall below expectations. Even the best and most experienced readers will not be able to consistently push the margin of accuracy far enough to justify premium pay.

Production technology can also moot the need to pay a premium for proofreading. In the example of thermographic business-card printing, even when there are no reprints, there is considerable wastage of paper and ink generated in preparing each of the press-runs, which are separated by color. When (as often happens) there is unused space available on the plate, there is no increase in production cost for reprints that use that space. Only when reprints are so numerous that they push production-staff into significant overtime would they increase costs. But significant overtime is usually the result of a high volume in new orders using up the eight-hour day. In such industries proofreading need only – and can only – make a marginal difference to be cost-effective. As for the customers, many will never return even when their jobs are perfect, and enough of those who do need a reprint will find the retailer’s cost-saving price to be satisfactory enough to tolerate a late delivery.

Only where workload volume doesn’t compress all deadlines to ASAP and the workflow is reasonably predictable can proofreading be worth a premium wage. Inflexible deadlines mandate a delivery time, but in doing so they necessarily don’t mandate delivery before that time. If deadlines are consistently maintained instead of arbitrarily moved up, proofreaders can manage their own time by putting proofs aside at their own discretion for re-reading later. Whether the interval is a few seconds or overnight, it enables proofs to be viewed as both familiar and new. Where this procedure is followed, managers can expect consistently superior performance. However, re-reading focuses responsibility instead of dividing it (as double-reading and copy holding, both described above, do) and obviously requires extra effort from proofreaders and a measure of independence from management. Instead of managers controlling deadlines, deadlines control managers, and leeway is passed to the proofreaders as well as commensurate pay.

Proofreaders, Proofreading Services