Most people ask me to proofread their first draft. Big mistake.

I’m really good at proofing. Whether you want me to check a paragraph, page, book or website, I’ll ensure your copy or manuscript is error-free and easy to understand.

My first real role – not counting car-washing or the Saturday job in a cake shop – was as a proofreader. I was hired by publisher Book Club Associates and methodically trained by a meticulous, eagle-eyed and irascible editor. I marked up text with mysterious hieroglyphic-like squiggles. Fowler's ‘Modern English Usage’ became my bible.

Pedantic to a fault, I can spot an errant typo or literal at a thousand paces. This makes reading The Guardian challenging, but clients like my knowledge about semi-colons and whether they should write discreet or discrete. And proofing isn’t just about errors but covers repetitions, style and continuity. A proper proofer sees the big picture as well as the fine details.

So why won’t I check your first draft? Obvious, really. By the time changes have been made along the line, your copy is likely to be so different that you'll have to ask me to read it through again. And why pay twice?

Proofreading should take place at the very end of your writing, after copy-editing for facts and sense, and when you're 99% sure you're ready to publish or send it to a literary agent.

I'll check your work with a fine-tooth comb for grammar, spelling, punctuation and missing words. Being me, I'm likely to make comments about style too, where necessary, but you'll decide whether I make any suggested changes, because that takes more time and will add to your bill.