Editing and Proofreading Tips for Self-Publishing

As authors and self-publishers, we want to put our best foot forward. I can’t imagine anything much more disappointing than receiving a negative book review because of poor grammar. That’s why I’ve put together this post on editing and proofreading tips for self-publishing.

These are steps 2, 3,  and 4 after you write the manuscript. You want to proofread your work and hand it off to an editor. Then proofread again!

What’s the difference?

Keep reading.

Two Schools of Thought on Editing and Proofreading Tips for Self-Publishers

Self-publishing is a different kind of animal. As authors, we have fought the last decade (at least) to lessen the stigma that comes with self-publishing.

Traditional publishers seem a little snobbish, and well, they kind of are. Honestly, I’m not sure where they get off. I’m pretty sure self-publishing out dates them by several millennia. I mean, I don’t think folks were writing query letters in cuneiform back in the day.

There’s a faction in self-publishing that says you cannot and should never edit your own book. You must, at theediting and proofreading tips very least, hire one editor to even be considered a professional.

Then there’s a faction that says, “Hogwash!”

I am in the latter. Well, I’m sort of in both. It actually used to be kind of taboo to talk about self-editing, but I notice there is even a masterclass on it now! Source

Here’s the deal…

When you’re just starting out as a new self-publisher, you probably don’t have a ton of money to invest. A lot of us got into self-publishing to make money, not spend it. You have to guard that bottom line!

Everyone has a story worth telling, and no one should be silenced from telling their story because they can’t afford an editor. Do you think Anne Frank was worried about an editor?

She actually began rewriting her famous diary once she heard that publishers would be interested in that sort of thing after the war. Anne Frank was self-editing! Source

At the end of the day, how and who edited your manuscript is your business alone and not something you ever need to discuss or disclose unless you choose to do so. 

Your work should be so well edited that it never comes into question!

Can you do that yourself?

I believe you absolutely can, and I’ll share some editing and proofreading tips you can put into action.

But first, let’s get the semantics out of the way.

What is Editing?

Editing focuses on how you present information and ideas.

Though editing includes the same qualities as proofreading, the purpose is to make your content easier to understand, better organized, and more suitable for the audience.


Rob at Archangel Ink stated it best in his video Should I Hire an Editor? when he said,

Editing is when you refine your language, clarify your message, and make sure your material is powerful, persuasive, and engaging.

A lot of revision and rewriting occurs in the editing phases.

In fact, large publishing house companies put a book through 4-6 rounds of editing before the proofing process.

What is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the final critical step before you launching a book and after editing.

I’m going to jump in here and say that I do the equivalent to a proofread, meaning I don’t make any major changes to style and structure, before I hand over a manuscript to the editor. I want to make sure I’ve run through and fixed any blatant typos prior to editing. Proofreading can happen any time in the process and should happen more than once, and probably more than twice.

Grammarly.com explained proofreading best when they shared,

When the material…has been edited, laid out, and designed, the proofreader searches for typographical errors. The proofreader works with a facsimile of a finished product, or a proof (hence the term proofreading).

Proofreading is merely the process of making sure the product is show ready.

A good proofreader won’t suggest any major change. They spot any minor text, formatting, or layout errors.

How to Self-Edit Your Self-Published Book in 10 Steps

If you decide to save the money and edit your book yourself, you should know that you’ve just taken on a time-consuming and daunting endeavor.

Be careful. Don’t get caught in an endless cycle of editing and rewriting. Your book will never be perfect. Accept that and move on.

You’re going to be beyond sick of your book long before you’re done.

They said Hemingway said this, “Write drunk, edit sober.”

Apparently, there’s no source citing him as the originator of that quote.

That’s not the point.

You should absolutely write your book with reckless abandon. Just get those ideas out!

Editing is when the true crafting of the story happens.

That being said, it’s only fitting if you ask me that the author edit their own work at least once.

Let’s get started.

Step 1. Let your book rest. If you’ve just completed the writing, this is a bad time to start editing. Let it rest for at least a week (more if you can). In fact, you’re going to want to let it rest between each step and take this process pretty slow.

Step 2. Read through the entire thing and fix any glaring issues. This is the first “proofread”.

Step 3. Go through with your favorite grammar checker. I recommend Grammarly or ProWritingAid. HemingwayApp is a free alternative. Fix typos and consider the other fixes they suggest, but be cautious. They are not always correct.

Step 4. Read through for structure. Does your manuscript adhere to your outline? Does it fit your timeline? If not, make the necessary edits.

Step 5. Read through for readability. Now that you’ve fixed any structure issues, does everything read well? Does it flow?

Step 6. Read it backwards one sentence at a time and make sure each sentence is complete and correct out of context.

Step 7. Let Microsoft Word read your book to you. Fix any discrepancies you hear.

Step 8. Run through again with your grammar checker.

Step 9. Perform a final proofread.

Step 10. Release to your beta readers and fix any issues they find.

I’ve published books with less editing than this from a professional editor. This is thorough and actionable!

Hiring an Editor or Proofreader

Taking your book to a good editing and proofreading service is like taking your car to a full-service car wash where editing your book is like getting the entire vehicle looking presentable and shiny.

If you want to hire an editor, I recommend checking Fiverr where you can find affordable services from my vetted list of providers.

Am I Missing Anything?

Am I missing any self-editing tips or do you have a good, affordable editor you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!


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