Note added 2014: Due to various elements of Real Life that I did not have when I started on this venture (including but not limited to: a job, a wife, a son) I am no longer proofing except for close friends. (If you think you might qualify but you're not sure: yeah, you probably do. I'm a softy.) Random strangers, feel free to try me but probably I'll have to say "no".
Like the title says: I will proofread English-language writings (theses, essays, outpourings of creativity, whatever) and accept payment in books.
I'm a native English speaker, and I like to think my grammar is not too bad. My spelling is a bit erratic (partly because New Zealand hasn't quite made up its mind whether to follow American or British standards) but I'll catch standard spellchecker goofs ("loose" for "lose", "wether" for "weather" for "whether"). The rest of this site should give you some idea of my standards, with two caveats: I don't properly proof blog posts, so what you see is first-pass-plus-accidental-observation, and the software I'm using sometimes makes the wrong decisions about whether to use left or right quotemarks.
This isn't my day job, so I don't have a fixed pay scale (although getting a dissertation professionally proofread can cost well upwards of a thousand euro -- I'm cheap.). You'll find books valued between small change and US$95 on the wishlist, and you can pick a something or two as you think appropriate --- perhaps by value, perhaps a favourite of your own, perhaps something related to your thesis topic. Doesn't have to be new, but please unmarked. (Short of time or patience? I've got a short list too.)
This idea was prompted by a Dutch student asking me to give feedback on her English-language MA thesis. Since I have a nearly-fulltime job I don't really need the money, but I'm one of those warped individuals who actually enjoys this sort of thing. Not enough to do it for nothing, true, but I wouldn't feel right charging an hourly rate --- payment in books seems a perfect solution. (Also since I have a nearly-fulltime job I won't always be able to accept requests. Contact me early, the day before a deadline is not likely to work out.)
One of the unexpected pleasures of this work is the range of material I get to look over. So far I've proofed:
- An MSc thesis on HTML template induction;
- An English translation of a Dutch film studies textbook, on the work of Lars von Trier;
- An MA thesis performing a Heideggerian analysis of a science fiction scenario;
- An MSc thesis on profinite completions (I don't know either);
- A note demolishing some particularly foolish claims about the relationship between generalised quantifier comprehension and formal learnability;
- "Discovering the Truth by Conducting Experiments", an MSc thesis that earned 9.5 instead of 10 because it "wasn't accessible enough" (read: the thesis committee couldn't follow all of the details);
- A history paper touching on cannibalism in the Weimar Republic;
- A masters thesis on the Master Argument;
- A PhD thesis on modality with data in five languages I don't speak;
- An MA on WDefs;
- A dissertation on the space and time complexity of quantifiers;
- About half of a dissertation on (linguistic) focus;
- PhD theses on game theory in pragmatics, Hebrew parsing, and logics of interactive belief change.
Whatever will be next?! If you're interested, get in touch. My email is
@logophile.com, the name is
Some related webby stuff
The Firefox extension bookburro makes comparison shopping easy (thanks Erik for the tip). Or you could stroll over to BooksPrice (I use these guys myself --- and they, like you, have given me a book).