20 Ways to Make Book Editing Easier

20 Ways to Make Book Editing Easier

Being a writer can be pretty overwhelming. Especially if you are a self-published writer. Being self-published you are expected to do technically everything. Not only that you are expected to shoulder all the expenses of having your book published.

If you have the ample funds all’s well and good then. But what if you don’t have the extra money to pay for all the publishing expenses. Foremost among these expenses is hiring people to edit your book. With the usual price going as high as $50 an hour having your book professionally edited can be pretty pricey.

Which is why it is a very good idea to self-edit your book. True if you do a bad job, it might hurt your book’s chances of being sold. But who’s to say that you can’t do a good job. A good many writers do their own book editing and have had no problems. Here are some 20 easy to follow tips on how to edit your own book.

1. Don’t rush the process

One of the biggest mistakes you can ever do if you edit your own book is to rush the process. Book editing takes a lot of work. Not only do you have to do the usual grammar checks on the book. You also have to make sure that your work makes sense. Which is why when you finish your work don’t immediately rush to edit your work. Take a rest, go out and have a change of scenery.

Take a week off and go on a short trip. Just as long as you change your routine. You may not notice it at first but after finishing a book, you are most likely suffering from mental fatigue. And to start on them immediately won’t do you any favors. You will inevitably make mistakes because you are not fully prepared for the process.

2. Have family and friends read your work

The best thing about writing your own book is that it can be a family event. Having family and friends read your work can help you gain a whole new perspective on your work. One of the setbacks of editing your book is that you might have a narrow outlook on the story.

Which is why it is a good idea to have someone who is not fully invested look at your work. By having someone else read your work, you can have an unbiased response and make the necessary changes.

3. Eliminate overused words

One of the most common mistakes done by writers is that they tend to overuse certain words. Consider them as your favorite words and although there is technically no limit on the use of certain words it can be quite annoying for readers if they have to see the same word in every sentence.

The type of book writing software that you use is also a factor because they have different functions that can help you locate overused words. Two great examples is Scrivener and Microsoft word. If you are using Scrivener there is a function wherein you can see the frequency with which you use words. Microsoft word also has a free Word Usage and Frequency add in that makes it even more efficient.

4. Be consistent in your spell checks and grammar lapses

Although most book writing software already come equipped with a spell check function, it always pays to be vigilant. When you edit your work always make it a point to double check your spelling. With the enormity of the task of editing your book you may miss some misspelled words. Which is why you should always set aside some time to double check your work.

This also goes for grammar. There are various Automatic editing tools that you can use to make your grammar more refined. Some great examples of these editing tools being Grammarly and Autocrit.

5. Replace unnecessarily complicated or obscure words

When you edit your book try to identify unnecessarily complicated words. Sometimes in our wish to impress readers, we end up using words that normal readers would usually have to look through a dictionary to know. You can of course use complicated words, but only if it adds something to the manuscript. If it does not, it would only look awkward and unwieldy. Using them too frequently would only make you look pretentious to your readers.

6. Refrain from going overboard in your attribution

Although it is okay to be colorful in your attribution, going overboard with it can be annoying for readers. Try to be more subtle in how you use attribution. It is enough to use said or you don’t even have to sue attribution at all.

7. Also refrain from going overboard with punctuation, fonts and sizes

Some writers have the habit of overusing punctuation, fonts and sizes in order to add emotion to their sentences. Try to avoid this practice, because it is technically a way to hide the lack of emotion in a dialogue. Here are some examples of overusing punctuation, fonts and sizes.

  • He lost…… HIS HAND!!!!!!
  • I WAS WRONG!!!!
  • He broke the vase….I AM SOOOOO ANNOYED!!!!!

8. Refrain from using old cliches

Nothing annoys readers more than cliches. Old and overused tropes that do not anything to the story. If you want to really impress your readers don’t rely on them. Think up something new and exciting.

9. Use established writing styles

If you want your book to look professional you should follow established writing styles. One great example is the Chicago Manual of Style. This is considered to be one of the best editorial references ever and is widely used by most writers.

You can subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style for only $35 a year. Of course you don’t really need to religiously follow it. But it is still advisable that you follow the format and learn more about it because it would help you improve your writing style.

10. Make sure your punctuation are used correctly

Have you ever had a problem with punctuations? Overused or used them incorrectly? Don’t worry it is a common problem for most writers. Just brush up on proper punctuation and make the necessary changes if you see them.

11. Don’t go overboard on the editing process

It’s okay to be thorough in your work but there is no need to go overboard with it. Although you should be critical of your work during the editing process, overdoing it would ultimately do more damage than good. Try to find a good balance between being vigilant with your grammar and spell checks and completely rewriting the book out fear that it is not perfect.

12. Read it out loud

Take the time to read your book aloud to yourself. This will allow you to properly scan your work for errors in grammar. Try to get the flow of the dialogue and see which parts you can improve. Take note of the errors as you read them and make the corrections accordingly.

13. Cut out unnecessary words

Try to make your work as concise and direct as possible. Don’t make your sentence composition too flowery. Unnecessary and superfluous words will not do your writing any favors. It is better to write sparingly but clearly than to write extensively but the sentence composition ends up complicated.

14. Make changes on the story structure first

One common mistake that some writers make is that they pay more attention to the sentence composition than the structure of the story. Thus when they find out that there is something wrong with the story structure, they will have to cut out huge chunks of sentences from the first draft. Thus wasting hours of editing work. This is why when you edit your manuscript always start with structure first then the sentence composition. This will save you a lot of time and effort in the end.

15. Take a systematic approach to the editing process

When you edit your work, take it slowly but surely. Although it may seem tedious at first it is important to remember that editing requires you to be meticulous and patient. Because if you hurry the process and there are errors in the final draft you are still the one who will lose readers.

16. Ask for advice from fellow authors

If there is a part of your book that you are discontented with or have trouble with, it is a good idea to ask fellow writers for their advice. Book editing is a very engrossing and work intensive bit of work. If you ask other authors for advice you can have a fresh new outlook on your book.

17. Use an editing app to be more thorough

Although editing apps are never as accurate as a human editor, they are still useful. This will help you to refine your manuscript’s overall tone. One great example is the Hemingway Editor app.

18. Keep a checklist of corrections

It is understood that book editing is very complicated work, which is why having a checklist of past corrections will really come in handy. It does not matter if it is your first or second draft. Always have a checklist so that you can make corrections as soon as possible. Having a checklist also helps you to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.

19. Work on your writing style

True, you are writing your book and you are technically way above the level of a beginner. But this should not dissuade you from trying to improve your writing style. On every draft that you make, be it the first or second always try to learn from past mistakes.

20. Trust in your skill as a writer

One of the biggest challenges a writer could ever face is self-doubt. This is a challenge because doubting your skill will slow your growth as a writer. Always remember that you chose to be a writer and any setback can be overcome with hard work and determination.

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One thought on “20 Ways to Make Book Editing Easier

  1. Cheri Cerio

    Excellent article!

    I do have a few contributions to add as my husband has two self published books and I have published a number of calendars for my charity.

    In writing, it is excellent to establish a writing routine allowing for a daily word count goal. My husband participates in National Novel Month which takes place annually in November. If successfully completed, you have accomplished a tremendous feat during a holiday month, and you can find to write having made it a habit. After finishing the book, shelf it for a month. It is ok to come back to it for your first reading because its isn’t so fresh in your mind. (And in the publishing world December is known as the national reject month as they receive thousands of unedited manuscripts.) As you read it, review for the obvious errors of awkward phrasing, glaring spelling errors and the flow of the story as well as character consistency and plot holes.

    Next select three close friends to critique your book and genera. If you don’t trust them, ask them to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement until you have finished the final draft and are ready to go to print. Ask them to circle areas that don’t flow and take them out of the story. This helps your editor tremendously.

    After you have received their feedback, please don’t take it personally. We know your book is your baby, and they are helping you raise it to a publishing level. Take the critiques seriously and try to make corrections without misdirecting or distorting the point of your book.

    Finding an editor: if money is tight there is the lesser popular way to proceed. There are many college students seeking opportunities on campus that can talk to their professor about getting credit for such a task as an internship. They would absolutely adore an opportunity to be published prior to graduation. From English teachers, to any liberal arts student, there will be possibly a teacher that would make it a project for their class depending on your content. Be open to the critical feedback and attend the class if given the opportunity. Finding plot holes you may have missed and hearing the interpretations of various character’s motivation can be enlightening. Please again remember it isn’t personal and maintain composure during the feedback. You can consider it as practice for speaking engagements that will follow when your book gains success.

    I know a literary editor/publisher that has verbal software that reads him the book to him as he makes notes. His justification is that if the book can stand up to the verbal test in flow as he creates the character in his mind, and it is entertaining it is worthy of being of being brought to distribution. He makes an offer of a contract, and brings on the writer in what he calls his stable. The more entertaining a speaker the novelist is the more invitations the writer gets to convention speaking appearances, radio spots and other schedule appearances for marketing the book at meet and greets and Barnes and Nobel.

    Now the big question: how to publish? If the publisher has doubts regarding your book and marketing capabilities, you will be asked to come out of pocket for various fees. Another option includes more work on your part. My family has chose not to sign on with the standing offer we have with publishing house just yet for a number of reasons and these are things that must be considered:

    1) Are you willing to sign the rights of your character away? Lucas has shown us merchandising makes millions.
    2) Publishing companies order books in bulk and having to accept a pallet of books back because the retailer forgot to distribute it to their stores is not financially possible if you have spent the money.
    3) We prefer to use a service provided by Amazon called Create-a-Space. The books are printed to order. You are capable to create your own book cover if you have that skill, format the book yourself and Amazon applies for your ICBN number and carries it on their site. They are capable of drop shipping the novel to the individual who ordered it. The writer then gets either monthly or quarterly direct deposits the only books that you keep in stock are for your table at any scheduled events. The issue of keeping bulk books in stock with the hassel of mailing them outside not yours. Be sure to dedicate your book appropriately and give appropriate credit in the book to your test readers. Finally, if you camped out in a coffee shop to do your writing, thank them and provide them with a free copy to display with a note card that includes a link or your website where they can order the book. They would appreciate it.

    If you choose to sign on with a publisher, you are entitled to a copy of the book and should your book be optioned, notice how much of a cut they get. Optioning a book is the holy grail of an author’s dreams. It pays the author thousands of dollars to have the exclusive opportunity to turn your book into a film until a certain date. It may not happen, but options expire and can be purchases over again and again. With his, you may decide to take a crack at writing the script, but unless you are versatile and good at writing dialog in new writing formats, this is an incredible challenge. Having approval over the final script draft may be possible, but don’t be a diva. People like the script writers will interpret your work one way, the actors will interpret your work another way, and the final outcome may be barely recognizable. The final outcome is you will be paid and it is just a job that you are very passionate about. Never take it personally.
    One more thing to consider regarding the format you publish. Audio books are often shared in the dark web as well as digital copies of the book. Allow me to tell you a story. My husband released his book in Kindle format and nook. He only had one sale of the nook copy, and another friend made him aware that his book was available on a TOR sharing site (one of the upper layers of the dark web.) After a little digging, we knew who purchased the book and shared it. Not another copy ever sold on the nook format. So we know who shared the book and began getting comments from those people he shared it. It is difficult to maintain composure when you are face to face with a thief, but you have to maintain composure for professional and career purposes. It is a risk to put your work out for exposure, but do understand that you will not always be compensated for your work.


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