Kayla Hicks - Author Kayla Hicks - Author

The Art of Self-Editing for Authors

4 min read

Tips for self-editing before handing your manuscript off to a professional editor

If you want to release a professional product that will captivate your readers, the key is wonderful editing in both grammatical and developmental stances.

But what many authors don’t know is that:

  1. You cannot rely on your own self-editing to produce this result

  2. You cannot rely on the editor to catch every discrepancy

Why is this?

Because humans make mistakes, and often, we accidentally autocorrect what we read in our heads as we go. This means that a single manuscript should undergo several rounds of editing to ensure that it is in peak condition for readers.

So how can authors self-edit and create a process to get their book to professional standards?

Reading your work aloud

One of the most effective ways to avoid autocorrecting what you read in your head is to read the words out loud.

By reading aloud, you have a better chance of weeding out surface-level mistakes such as typos, misspellings, dropped words, repeated words and other mistakes. In addition to this, it can also help you better hear your sentence structures.

Using a grammatical program

There are plenty of useful grammar programs out there that help you spellcheck your manuscript and catch mistakes.

Now, typical writing programs like Word have built-in grammar helpers, but there are also programs such as:

  • Grammarly

  • Pro Writing Aid

  • Ludwig

  • WhiteSmoke

  • Ginger

It can be a huge timesaver to have a program like these checking you as you go along. And like the grammar program in Word, you can choose to dismiss the suggestions made.

Taking a step back

Sometimes the best way to see your book with fresh eyes is to step away from it for a while.

My suggestion would be to set aside your book for a month and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Hopefully, with this time away from your book, you can see any issues you missed from being in your book all the time.

In addition to self-editing, you should take advantage of creating a team of alpha and beta readers to help you with editing.

Alpha readers are readers who see your book after the first or second draft. They offer advice on early grammar errors as well as developmental errors. And after they have helped your book, you should be sure to offer them a free copy of the finished product for their service.

Beta readers see the final edited version of your book. At this stage of the process, they offer developmental feedback on the plot. This can often be useful to fix any last-minute plot holes in your story and get last-minute feedback on the title, and your book description.

Be sure to give your alpha and beta teams a shoutout in the back of the book and on social media.

Because the truth is, you want as many eyes on your book before it’s published.

Every person that reads your book will be able to provide you different feedback and help your book in some way.

When it comes to hiring a professional editor, know that it’s possible to find an affordable editor.

When figuring out where to spend your precious budget, know that spending it on an editor is the right call.

Editors can be found on freelance websites like:

  • Upwork

  • Fiverr

And they can be found at a reasonable price point. But you have to know how to do it right.

When you list a job on a service like Upwork, you need to say:

  • What is your ideal budget is

  • Your book word count

  • Be willing to pay $50 for an edited sample of the first three chapters (this way you can get a sense of how they work)

  • Your deadline (make it reasonable)

Once you begin getting responses, be sure to check:

  • Their profile and service reviews

  • How many jobs they have completed

  • Their profile itself

If you decide to go through a service that offers a team of editors, know that this will come at a higher cost.

The editing part of the publishing process is the most tedious, but in the end, it’s what makes a book the best it can be.