3 Tips for Self-Editing Your Work

You've written and written and finished your first or second draft.  You may think you're ready to send it to an editor.  Think again.

The more you can self-edit your writing, the easier the editing process will be with the editor you pay to go through your work.  And, honestly, the cheaper it will be.

Before you think of paying an editor, first consider doing these things:

Step One: Print Your Manuscript

Printing your manuscript may sound like an expensive waste of time, but it is critical to vary the way you see your work, which makes printing a valuable place to start.  Once you've printed your manuscript, move to Step Two.

Step Two: Read Your Manuscript Out Loud

This is a crucial step in the self-editing process, and a good one.  When we read out loud, we hear things that we would otherwise miss.  We tend to read out loud slower than we read silently, so it's also a way to make yourself go slowly enough to catch errors in the text itself.  Make sure you have a highlighter as you read (or four – one for grammar, one for tense, one for spelling, one for various other issues in the text) to mark those places you need to return to.

Step Three: Read Through for Specific Problems

Does this mean you are supposed to read through your manuscript multiple times?  YES!  Read through specifically looking for voice issues.  Read through specifically to look for spelling errors.  Read through specifically to look for tense issues.  Read through specifically to look for plot holes.  Read through specifically to look for grammar issues.

This may feel like overkill, but you literally can't read through your book too many times before sending it to be edited.  There are some well-known authors who will tell you they go through their manuscripts at least 100 times before sending it to be edited.

The joy of this last step is that the more you do this, the better you get in your initial writing phase, and the more proficient your writing time becomes.  The more proficient your writing, the less editing it will need in the long run.  And that is a wonderful place to be.