I know one writer, who recently self-published a book, who rejected all editing advice. When she received the printed copy of her book, yup, you guessed it, it was not good. It was riddled with mistakes and she was very unpleased. But, the mistakes were hers and things that would have been caught if she had allowed an editor to work with her.
Just in case you are one of those people who feel they can be their own editor, here are a few tips for you to at least catch a few more mistakes in your writing.
1. Use spell check. However, this is not the end all to your editing. Yes, it will help you catch words that you inadvertently misspelled. You will often find words with transposed letters you didn’t notice. I like to use spell check after I’m done with most of my editing to “ignore” certain words. For example, on more than one occasion I have edited a writer’s work and found they spelled an unusual name two and even three different ways throughout the book. Pick the spelling that you want to use and ignore that one in your spell check. Other spellings with come up as wrong allowing you to then correct them.
2. Track changes. This can be a useful tool when editing. Once you complete your first run through, save all the changes in a new document. You can then compare two manuscripts side by side and see where you may have missed something. This is especially useful as far as spacing when you’ve added or deleted something.
3. Enlarge your text. When editing, sometimes I find more mistakes when the text is larger. I can see spacing issues easier and spelling errors seem to jump off the page. It also helps with eye strain if that’s a problem for you. This works well in your final edit when you are simply scrolling through the text looking for formatting errors.
4. View different formats. One of the problems with editing your own work is that you begin to skim over words because you already know what they say. Putting your book in a different format helps you to see things you didn’t see before. Read your manuscript in print, in Word, in a PDF, change the font, etc. This helps you lessen the skimming and find more errors.
5. Find readers. I have discovered first readers to be an invaluable tool for me. These are people who simply read for the enjoyment of it. They find inconsistencies in my stories. They find duplications. They may catch a few typos or grammatical errors, which is fine, but it is the story line that I am most concerned with. Find people you trust and people who will not just say, “I loved it!”
6. Find an editor. Now is the time to find an editor. Yes, the above items will help you get better at editing your own work, but you still need a trusted editor to go through your work one more time.
When publishing or self-publishing, you want your book to be the best that it can be. Don’t think
that just because you publish with a traditional publishing house that they will catch all your errors, either. Nothing is more discouraging than receiving print copies of your books that are full of mistakes, or seeing things you wished you’d changed. Take your time to give your book a thorough edit before going to print. You will never regret too much editing.