This week I discovered the difference between proofreading and copy editing, the two being distinctly different entities. I learned to use a set of symbols for annotating texts with corrections (thankfully I do not have to memorise them all!). Proofreading appears to be a lot less nuanced than copy editing, with the latter being a less precise science. The rules for proofreading are more rigid and defined, with the caveat that a given publisher is likely to produce a stylesheet defining the parameters of the work they would like to be produced, ready to send to the typesetter.
Proofreading is, I have discovered, far from the art of making a book publishable per se, rather it is preparing work for the typesetter and as such the manuscript ought to be delivered in a language the typesetter understands. He or she cares nothing for the content of the book (save for formatting it, the quality of the writing, register, spelling, grammar and so forth. It is therefore important that a proofreader produces accurate data for the typesetter to use in order to produce a finished manuscript. In this sense the content of the book really does not matter. It could be a dictionary for all that it matters at this stage. The point is that this process is the conversation from the word processing document that the author will produce into something resembling a book. There are no more stages of preparation after this point. Once this complete and the typeset manuscript is delivered it is then a matter of approving proofs and going to press. Any mistakes at this point ought to have been dealt with. Whilst I am sure that there are occasions where errors may still have been found, the majority of books at this point are, from an editing standpoint, finished. From here the printing press awaits, along with distribution, marketing and sales.