Easy to Follow Steps on How to Self-Edit Your Book

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May 7, 2016

If you are for successful self-publishing, you may want to consider making sure your book stands out from the rest. So any action you can do to drive traffic to your book will definitely be worth it—including self-editing your book.

LitFire’s Richard Stephens (right) with Sharron Ensign (left) and Jenna Ellis, ESQ (center) during the 2016 London Book Fair.

If you are an author who would like to try self-publishing, you will need to buy editorial services. Before this, you need to do some self-editing. Self-editing will help you save money and allow editors more time to spend on the faults you have missed. Here is a checklist to help you get started:


1. Write the first draft and let it rest

Forget everything you know about spelling and grammar rules when writing your first draft. After you finish, print it out and step away from your completed manuscript for a few days to a week. Editing your draft straight after writing will not only make you bias toward your own work. You will not be able to notice mistakes, too.

Allow several days to pass and the next time you read your draft, the typos, grammar, and spelling errors will jump off the page at you. Other authors find it helpful to hear their manuscript read out loud. This way, it is easy to catch awkward words that are in sentences and notice confusing phrases.


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2. Replace repetitive words and punctuations

Most writers tend to use some words over and over again. These words are comparable to personal habits and mannerisms that are hard to resist. Save your literary editor some job, and delete these repetitive words from your draft. The same rule applies to punctuations.

3. Use simple words

Readers come first. Your novel is not the best arena to parade your fancy vocabulary. Unfamiliar words just slow readers down and only lead to frustration.

4. Check spelling and grammar

The long hours that are spent in front of the screen may be the reason why our eyes start deceiving us. Revise your first draft through paying attention to those tiny squiggles under words and sentences. A lot of book editing services charge by the hour, so this meticulous step should ease the workload on the editor, thus lowering the price of editing.

5. Use verbs and nouns instead of adjectives

Adjectives strengthen or clarify an image, but it has become a cliché. A strong manuscript is a product of nouns and verbs. If one character hands another character a bunch of flowers, tell the readers what these flowers are. Are these roses, tulips, or hydrangeas? Don’t tell your readers what these flowers look like using fancy adjectives. Same thing applies to the choice of verbs. A well-chosen verb creates a personality for different characters in a novel.

6. Avoid stating the obvious

If Veronica pounds her fist on the table, there is no need to tell the readers that she’s angry. By pounding her fist will tell the readers that she is, in fact, angry.


7. Follow the industry standards

Format your manuscript to abide to industry standards. Editing the format will allow editors and beta readers more time to correct actual words instead of editing your formatting. Send your draft as a Word document and use double space in line spacing. Then, use one space after each period, and create page breaks between chapters. Finally, use black, 12-point, Times New Roman as the font.

Self-editing your manuscript before handing it over to an editor will do both you and your book a favor. Yet, avoid overdoing it. Remember that even after following the advice above, you will still need an editor. This is to assure that your manuscript is as polished as possible.

P.S Line: Create an arresting manuscript that will keep readers flipping the pages from start to end. Here’s how to create a solid story structure.

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