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I have worked with words throughout my career. My degree is in English, and during thirteen years in marketing I was responsible for direct mail copy and the company's collectors' club magazine, which enabled me to develop excellent attention to detail before I went freelance in 2004.
I believe that effective editing and proofreading require proper engagement with the text, and that a good understanding and working knowledge of the subject matter can make a real difference. It is also vital to ensure that the writer's voice is maintained while being aware at all times of the needs of the reader.
In recent years I have especially enjoyed working with first-time authors and self-publishers, helping them to ensure that their work is in the best possible shape for publication. Literature, popular music, art and architecture are areas of particular interest, to which I can bring a good level of knowledge and familiarity.
Copy-editing, copywriting, on-screen editing, proofreading, rewriting
Books, e-books, sleeve notes, company literature, illustrated books, magazines, multi-author books, newsletters, travel guides, websites
Qualifications and awards
BA English Language & Literature, PGCE (Secondary English), City & Guilds Licentiateship (LCGI) in Editorial Skills
Freelance since 2004
Tutor for the Publishing Training Centre's Essential Proofreading distance learning course since 2009
Switching to Fiction (Editing for Indie Authors at Sentence Level) (Louise Harnby) 2022, Copyright for Editorial Professionals (CIEP) 2022, Introduction to Fiction Editing (SfEP) 2019, Efficient Editing (SfEP) 2018, Practical Mark-up of PDFs (SfEP) 2017, On-screen Editing 2 (SfEP) 2011, On-screen Editing 1 (SfEP) 2010, Basic Proofreading by Distance Learning (Publishing Training Centre) 2006, Proofreading for Accreditation (SfEP) 2005, Basic Editing (PTC) 2005
Baker Street Press, The Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), Bitter Lemon Press, Bloomsbury Academic, CIEP, EQL Limited, gta Verlag (ETH Zurich), The Literary Consultancy, Pitch Publishing, RefineCatch Ltd, Swift Press, Tale Trails, Tetragon Publishing Services
Architecture, art, biography, education (secondary), English language, English literature, fiction, history (heritage, local), literary studies, literature in translation, manufacturing (ceramics), music (general, popular), marketing, politics (British), sports (general, motor, soccer), tourism/travel (general, UK), transport (general, canals)
Ian is an astute and reliable copy-editor and proofreader. He always delivers on time and I’m happy to recommend his services to others looking for a talented freelancer.
Alex Billington, Tetragon Publishing Services
Checking back through my records I realise that Ian and I have been working together for over 15 years. During this time Ian has taken in his stride British dialect, ghost stories, murder stories, family walks, specialist local history and visitor guides, providing timely responses to manuscripts of varying lengths, returning thoroughly checked work along with constructive comments. In an age when people rely (way too much) on spellchecking software, a 'proper' book is proofread and copy-edited; it is money well invested and can save some embarrassment after it is too late to make any changes.
Ian has also been generous with his grammatical knowledge when I am trying to untangle a particularly tricky bit of text, or when I have a bee in my bonnet about something I have read or heard.
Chris Gilbert, Marketing Manager, Landmark Publishing; Production Coordinator, Bradwell Books
As a first-time author I originally thought the editing and proofreading was going to be painful. Fortunately, working with Ian it turned out to be a great experience! I found him to be extremely knowledgeable, he did a great job guiding and teaching me, and most importantly he delivers exactly what he says. I genuinely can’t thank him enough for his exceptional work, I know my book is much better for it. I’ll be using him for all future work!
Liam Eves, author
After four books, I can attest to Ian Howe’s thoroughness as a proofreader. Ian hunts mistakes in pursuit of the perfect manuscript. He’s obsessed with accuracy. Besides punctuation and grammar, Ian applies his experience and knowledge to fact-checking and word choice. His timely response, clear communication, and straightforward manner almost make receiving a “red marked” manuscript enjoyable. He responds to questions with friendly, educational emails, sometimes peppered with humor. Ian provides clear instructions on an ms submission and creates a style sheet tailored to an author’s preferences. His query list before he completes the final version is easy to follow. Ian’s a master of grammar and words and inspires confidence that his final copy is of the highest quality.
Charles Puccia, author
Ian’s changes made the text in my novel more accessible to the reader, and his instincts for clarifying the English language are well honed. In terms of picking up anachronisms, I couldn’t fault him. His proposed time frame to carry out the work was two weeks, which he delivered on. Overall, Ian is thorough and professional in his work, and as a copy-editor, I can’t recommend him enough.
Nick Sanders, novelist
Ian's input is accurate, sympathetic and helpfully creative. Turnaround is quick too. Within only a few days texts were clearer and more complete, so that I felt far better prepared for the next stage. A hugely valuable part of the process.
If you're wondering if your fiction needs proofreading for sense and accuracy, it does. Ian is the greatest literary wicketkeeper I know, saving you and covering you, so you can be confident in creativity. I cannot recommend him highly enough.
A. Smith, fiction
I was delighted with Ian's help and support on my first novel. Diligent, thoughtful, and with a real attention to detail, he also bought empathy and a degree of understanding to his work, which made a real difference. As a result of Ian's advice and input, my novel is now ready to be unleashed upon the world. Thank you Ian for your excellent input.
Andy Mack, author
It’s hard to learn that your writing contains errors despite all the days you spent editing and proofreading, but Ian brings such grace, flair and awe-inspiring exactitude to the job of illuminating these mistakes that I felt grateful for his perception. He navigated the waywardness of the manuscript I’d co-written with generosity, attentive to its quirks while gently supporting the greatest possible clarity.
Maddy Costa, author
Ian was an unfailingly generous and meticulous copy-editor. He always met the book on its own terms, thoughtfully and carefully recognising its intentional eccentricities and providing helpful guidance on smoothing its rougher edges. The book is markedly better for his contribution and for that I am profoundly grateful.
Andy Field, author
Ian has been very good to work with and I don’t think I could have hoped for anything better. As a first-time author, I wasn’t sure what to expect but Ian made the editing process easy, clear and even enjoyable. Ian is efficient, meticulous and, at all stages, explained things if I wasn’t clear about anything. Moreover, I was very impressed by his empathy for the story and his suggestions reflected an understanding of what I was trying to achieve. As well as knocking the grammar into shape, his tactful interventions helped clarify many narrative points which I realised had been niggling me and are now resolved.
I would thoroughly recommend Ian for his diligence, knowledge and professionalism.
Howard Davies, author
As a new author, the prospect of having my work professionally edited daunted me. I had witnessed comments from writers who had struggled with the feedback from their own editors and therefore viewed the editing process as ‘a necessary evil’. I’m glad to say, my experience with Ian could not have been more different. Thanks to Ian, I have found editing to be an element of publishing I will look forward to in the future.
My non-fiction book is about a niche topic which comes with its own lingo and unique phrases. As well as correcting technical errors, Ian also highlighted any phrases which could confound newcomers, while being sensitive to the needs of the more experienced readers. He also highlighted elements which, while not technically incorrect, could be changed to improve flow and style.
Tracking changes and communicating via comments boxes was an absolute breeze. Ian made the process very manageable and, because he also injects his own brand of humour into the responses, I found that I really looked forward to receiving his emails.
Editing will never again be daunting. Thank you, Ian.
Matt Whelan, author
I was lucky enough to work with Ian on my first novel. Not only did he improve my ‘final’ draft beyond measure, he also made it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I thought a copy-editor would check my grammar and hunt down my last few typos but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Ian’s meticulous attention to detail included checking timelines, flagging head-hopping and highlighting character inconsistencies. Best of all, he doesn’t just slavishly apply the rules but knows when it’s appropriate to bend or break them for the sake of the narrative. When Ian’s done, your work will be in the best possible shape – far better than you’ll ever be able to achieve alone.
I’ll definitely work with Ian again and would recommend him unconditionally.
Chris Johnson, author
I am a first-time author seeking publication and wanted a copyeditor for my action adventure novel. Ian was recommended to me by The Literary Consultancy in December 2021.
After agreeing in principle to engage Ian’s services he did a sample edit of the first few chapters and I was impressed by his detailed approach and suggested edits. On the full edit I found Ian professional to work with, liking his forensic, thorough approach and quick turnaround.
The whole experience was collaborative and Ian focused on improving my story, not taking it apart. I feel confident that my manuscript has been substantially elevated because of engaging Ian’s services and is in as good a condition as I can get it in the hope of securing a literary agent, publisher or simply self-publishing.
I would definitely engage Ian’s expertise again on a subsequent novel if I am successful.
Giles Wilcox, author
I have been absolutely delighted with Ian’s work as the copyeditor and proofreader for my manuscript (a work of non-fiction). He was so sensitive to the subject matter and intent of my book.
No one could be more vigilant and thorough than Ian at spotting inaccuracies, whether typos or points of grammar. He was excellent too when it came to suggesting better ways of phrasing a particular sentence, and very good at cutting out the superfluous.
I could not recommend him more highly and look forward to working with him on future projects. Indeed, I wouldn’t dare publish a book without him!
As a mildly dyslexic author of a first-time novel that has taken an embarrassingly long time to write, working with Ian was an absolute joy. I was hugely impressed with Ian’s attention to detail, his helpful and informed suggestions for improvements, and his patience at weeding out my many unnecessary sub-headings! The warmth, humour and knowledge of Ian’s comments and communications made the whole experience a hugely enjoyable journey.