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.