MRM: Five Ways to Self Edit Your Own Work

As writers, we feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when we finally publish. If you do it right, your work will draw praise from your intended audience. But if you do it wrong, reviewers take notice. One of the most common reasons for one and two star reviews is grammar.

Whether you hire an editor or your publisher appointed one to you, it is your job to get the manuscript to the highest level it can be. Something to keep in mind is that when editors obtain a manuscript for a sample edit, they are also determine how much work will go into editing and they charge accordingly. Simply put, the fewer mistakes you have, the less you pay.

Editing Basics for Authors

Misspelled words, misplaced commas, tautologies, misuse of words, dangling modifiers, and run-on sentences are just a few of the most common mistakes authors make. No matter how many times you read it, there are grammatical errors that you don’t catch.

The reason we have trouble catching our own mistakes is that we’re too closet to the material. We know what it is supposed to say because the concept fills our mind. When we read our own work, that same mind fills in the blanks where the mistakes are and we keep going. We see what we expect to see.

The purpose of editing is to make your book the best it possibly can be for readers. Except for completing the writing of the book, it is the most important step in the process. Here are five tips to help you succeed.

Self-Editing Tips

  1. Walk away from it. Some time away from the pages will increase your chances of finding mistakes when you look over it with fresh eyes. We recommend at least a week’s separation between you and your manuscript.
  2. Run spell check. See what changes are suggested and review each one. This will get the glaring mistakes out of the way, but be mindful, not every suggestion will be correct.
  3. Read it. Change the font style to something like Comic Sans. Increase the font size. Print out the manuscript. Read it line by line.
  4. Listen to it. Read it out loud. The eyes may scan right over your book’s mistakes, but the ears will not. Another tip is to use Microsoft Word’s Speak and Read Aloud feature.
  5. Get rid of excess text. Does every word contribute to the purpose and overall tone of the book? Did you lead the reader down rabbit trails? When in doubt, scrap portions of the manuscript. Don’t fret! Place all of that copy in a separate document that you can use later for blog posts, social media, and complimentary products to market your book.

What Our Editors Will Do For Your Manuscript

Developmental Editors focus on the structure and content of your book. They won’t fix typos, but they will help you with your organization, presentation, clarity, flow, and tone. Fact-checking, verifying scripture reference, and suggest or provide clearer explanations, anecdotes, analogies, or illustrations. For fiction books, the developmental editing also consists of evaluating the theme, plot, characters, dialogue, pacing, tension, and setting.

Copy/Line Editors cover a broad range of corrections and suggestions. A basic copyedit includes making sure material is logical and understandable, correcting continuity problems, making sure sources are cited for all statistics and quotations, flagging inaccuracies and inconsistencies, search for redundancies, and evaluate sentence clarity and word choice.

Proofreaders search the text for typographical errors, misspelled words (including incorrect word usage), grammatical problems (including verb tenses and syntax), punctuation mistakes (including proper abbreviations and capitalization), inconsistent format, letter or sentence spacing errors, specialized terms, character names, location references, etc., numerical and alphabetical sequences, vertical and horizontal alignment of set-off text (including paragraph indents), and references to illustrations, tables, and figures within the text.

Mandy Roberson Media, LLC Book & eBook Design

If you have questions about editing, publishing, web design, or marketing, please send us a quick email or, if you are ready to begin our design process, click here to get started.

Whether we design and build your website or blog; design and format your soon-to-be bestseller for digital and print release; bring your target audience to you via SEO or social media audits and strategies; or build that e-commerce shop and fill it with your custom creations… Our team believes in YOU, your ministry, and your message.

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