Self-Editing Tips Every Author Should Know

If you are a self-publishing author or an independent one, editing your whole work is a necessary evil. That doesn't mean it has to be difficult, though! A little self-editing can make your book more readable and understandable for your audience.

self-publishing author

Whether you're self-publishing your book or are planning on working with traditional publishing houses, your first step after writing a manuscript is to edit your work. No literary work becomes a published book after its first draft.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Every writer should know how to edit their work before submitting it to a professional editor.

Many bestselling authors hire professional editors to edit their work, but that doesn't mean you can ignore self-editing! It's also a courtesy for them because it will take less time for them to catch every error you had, such as spelling mistakes and punctuation errors.

But before you start on your developmental editing, you need to understand how the whole process works before heading in with a book editor for a professional edit.

This blog post will help tackle editing basics and tips that every author can do and practice with.

What is self-editing?

Self-editing is the final proofreading of your book. This may include grammar and punctuation corrections and self-reflections on plot, structure, and overall development. This process is complicated because your brain can't edit what is written primarily on the first draft.

The process requires the author to evaluate their own work as if they were reading someone else's book.

When you edit your book, you want to go through it as a reader. This is a crucial stage where you reread every part of the prewritten paragraphs for your book before submitting it to a professional editor that can finalize your work.

Why you should self-edit?

If you self-publish or are self-published, it is cheaper to self-edit than sending your manuscript to a professional editor. This is especially useful for independent authors who seek to cut costs where they can.

You want to edit so you can see the flaws in your work yourself before publishing it. It's easier and faster than letting someone else point out the mistakes that need to be fixed. Some errors may slip past an editor or proofreader, but it's less likely that you will miss them on your own after writing the book several times over.

Best-selling authors have also gone through numerous revisions and drafts with their book editors because they know it isn't always about having good writing abilities. This is a specific case for those writing fiction as they want to be distinguished from other fiction writers.

How long does self–editing take?

Self-editing will take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the length of your work and how fast you read through. For how long this method takes, it's usually a self-edited book that you will be handing over to an editor.

A book editor can help evaluate your work and self-edits to know what needs improvement.

Sometimes self-editing isn't enough, and the editing process may need to go on for several rounds before your work is ready to be published. This means more self-edits and any other forms of feedback (beta readers, critique partners).

What does the editing process include?

A self-edit can include one or all of these steps: self-reflection, sentence structure, word usage, story development, plot holes, and other inconsistencies, along with any grammatical errors. It's essential to edit with a critical eye because there are all kinds of mistakes in self-published or self-edited books.

Some common issues include:

  1. inconsistent word usage
  2. grammatical errors
  3. misused punctuation, wrong words used in place of others, or incorrect sentence structure that leads to confusion
  4. unnecessary and irrelevant details
  5. missing information
  6. unnecessary repetition

During the editing phase, you need to check your entire manuscript and look at the big picture of how you can give the copy editor less time for your book editing. Be sure to keep the intended audience in mind. Be careful to add crutch words that could ruin a good story structure.

What to avoid when self-editing?

Individual self-editing is as essential as self-reflecting on your work for stylistic purposes like voice and narration style. Avoid jumping into self-editing too soon before making sure to self-reflect first!

It's detrimental to edit before knowing what works and what doesn't in your book. If you want to take your plot forward, you need to make sure you're keeping an eye on word frequency and developmental editing.

If you edit by focusing too much on mechanics that do not pertain to style, then you may end up losing sight of what's essential as a writer.

6 Tips for Authors Who Want to Self-Edit

Self-editing can make your work cleaner and more accessible for people to understand. You'll find out what works and what doesn't work in your story during self-editing—and it can even help you decide if certain parts should stay or go.

Here are some tips on how you can start self-editing your book:

1. Start Editing AFTER You Finish All Your Drafts

Self-Editing Tips

Your first self-editing pass should be a developmental edit. Look for any issues with the storyline. There should be a logical succession of plot points that creates the flow from beginning to end. Editing your book should be a part of your writing process, even if you plan to hire a professional editor. You directly from the first draft until the last word so that you won't lose any of your ideas.

Assess your entire manuscript for perspective or setting changes. Do this to tell which stories fit where and who will be telling them. You will know when editing is necessary because your book will look messy, and you'll feel that something is off.

Finish your whole manuscript first and avoid editing during the writing process as this messes the flow of your book.

Try to edit in stages: reread and find what's missing in the whole manuscript you've written. Only when you feel that your work is complete should you edit with a focus on stylistic choices (voice and narration style, tone). It may not be like self-publishing where anyone can self-publish a book with no applicable standards.

Reflect on what's missing in the story and visualize your book in its entirety as to how it flows. It's OK to reflect during different stages of writing, but don't worry about self-editing until you have finished every draft from beginning to end.

2. Know Your Writing Style and Preferences

Self-Editing Tips

When you start writing your piece, you begin with your word document and write out your ideas without formatting everything. This is a typical case for those who write fiction as they want to distinguish themselves from others through their writing style.

To them, great fiction writers must master storytelling, develop believable characters, and hold a reader's focus from the first page. They must also learn the art of book editing—an essential step in the publishing process.

Fix punctuation and grammatical errors and mind double spaces for your work to be easily read.

Also, find and replace words you repeat too often in your story, known as crutch words. If you see lines written in passive voice, rewrite them in the active voice.

Edit your work based on your writing style and preferences. You know the voice you want to capture in your book, but it's essential to self-reflect to ensure that you're not forgetting anything—or adding unnecessary details!

3. Take A Break in Between Editing

Self-Editing Tips

As an author, you know that the editing process, whether you or a professional editor does it, can cause mental strain and exhaustion.

Take self-editing slowly and work through one step at a time. Take a break when you feel like you've run out of ideas to write down and edit so you can come back to your book with a fresh perspective on it.

In this way, self-editing will be less of a chore and more enjoyable for you as an author because you'll have the chance.

4. Read Your Book Out Loud To Hear If It Feels Natural or Awkward

Reading aloud your manuscript helps you understand what needs to keep your story forward. Reading through all the written words enables you to analyze your point of view and overall story structure.

If you need extra help, try to have fresh eyes who can view your manuscript for you or beta readers who can go through your work while you read it aloud to them. Most editors also help out by letting you read to them the whole point of your book.

A beta reader is either a hired professional or a friend or family member who volunteers to read your book and give feedback.

With the help of a beta reader, you will know exactly what to change through the feedback they give after reading your book.

Once that happens, you'll find that you can not only cut the fluff out of your book, you can also make your book sharper and more refined (e.g., replacing passive voice with active voice).

Ensure that there are no grammatical errors because this will reflect poorly on the author and look unprofessional. Editing your whole work helps improve any mistakes in spelling words or grammar so readers can better enjoy what they're reading.

5. Find Useful Tools That Can Speed Up The Process

Book editing can get difficult and repetitive over time. It makes you question how long you've been editing and may cause doubt on whether you could continue with your book.

Improve the speed of self-editing by using tools that can make reference editing simpler for you like track changes in your word document on Microsoft Word, notepad with self-marking tabs, self-tracking documents, and more. It's important to know what works best for you!

Use tools to your advantage especially when you need extra help.

For instance, look for computer programs that spellcheck and find errors for you like Grammarly, Hemingway, or Sapling. While using these programs, see if there are any missing words or sentences because this can make your document look unprofessional.

Software like these simplifies the self-editing process by telling you where to improve on in your work without letting you leave out key details in what you've written!

6. Don't get overwhelmed!

The most important thing you need to recognize is how self-editing is a rewarding, but long process. Give the processing time to work and don't stress yourself out because self-doubt can lead to self-loathing.

Take self-editing slowly so you feel less frustrated when trying to edit your story. You should be able to enjoy the process in any way, whether you read for entertainment or self-reflect!

Editing your work shouldn't intimidate you but instead, inspire you just like how it inspired this article! Feel free to use these self-editing tips in your own writing or if you need help with editing.

Editing is an important step in the publishing process, and it’s one that should not be skipped. However, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

Writing isn't just for publishing; it's also a form of self-expression that only works the way it does because of self-editors like us!

There are plenty of self-editing tips every author should know before they begin the process. If you need help getting started, or would like someone else to look over your work, don’t hesitate to reach out at We have a team of experts who would be more than happy to assist you on your journey towards bestselling status.

Thanks for reading!

For more helpful content in becoming a better author, check out my article on How to Start Writing a Book , Copyediting vs. Proofreading or visit our website today