A few days ago, I posted 10 tips for self-editing, to help authors when they are doing the first stage of editing themselves, before enlisting the help of an editor. In today’s post, I will list 5 more tips, which I generally do on the next stage of editing, once it’s been edited once by myself, and once by someone else. There isn’t exact science to the number of edits a book will need, and you could probably edit it a million times and still find more things to change. I find the best way to do it, is to have one big structural edit, checking for continuity of plot, that the characters are developed enough, for flow and to see if it holds your interest. Once you’ve addressed any issues and made the changes, you would then read through again, and if you’re happy with it, move onto a line edit, which is where you go through the book, line by line, checking for errors. You may need to do several structural edits before you do the line edit, you may only need to do one. It really depends on how much work the book needs, and will vary from author to author, so find the right number of edits for you and your work.
If you decide to line edit it yourself, here are some tips to make it a little easier. These are methods and ideas I use myself.
Self-Editing Tip #1: Print it out
I know that in the first set of tips I said that you can send it to your Kindle, and read it on there in order to catch the mistakes, but honestly, the best way to catch errors is to go old school and print out a copy to write on by hand. Besides it being easier to read, you can also give your eyes a rest from looking at your computer screen.
Self-Editing Tip #2: Read it out loud
You don’t have to read it out to an audience, just to yourself. By reading it out loud, you can hear when dialogue sounds clunky, and you can also hear when you automatically add in or remove words as you speak, and then see on the page that those words should or shouldn’t be there.
Self-Editing Tip #3: Record It/Get someone else to read it out loud
This is an extra to tip #2. It can be easier to hear the errors if someone else is reading the book, as they are more likely to read what’s on the page, not what you intended to put on the page. Alternatively, recording yourself reading it out loud and then listening back to it can also work. This exercise is great practice for when you create the audiobook too…
Self-Editing Tip #4: Stop shouting!!!!
In the age of social media, it seems normal to use multiple exclamation points, to punctuate how excited or angry we are etc. In books, however, exclamation marks should be used sparingly and only usually in dialogue. And even then, just one will suffice. I have read many books recently, some fiction, some non-fiction, where they use this form of punctuation so much, I feel like I am being shouted at. It became a bit of an ‘in-joke’ with one of my clients, who had used over 400 exclamation marks in their book. I was pretty ruthless in the editing, and I managed to reduce it to just 11. And most of those were in the acknowledgements. In my opinion, if you need to use an exclamation mark, it must not be a very funny joke. So in the line edit, please do remove as many as possible!!!
Self-Editing Tip #5: Find beta readers
At this point, it is a good idea to get some other people to read your story. You may trust your editor’s opinion, but it doesn’t hurt to gather a few more. Finding beta readers can be tricky, and there are a few different ways to do this. I tend to ask family or friends who I trust to give an honest opinion, and for the last few books, I have asked some of my readers to beta read for me too. You could team up with other Indie Authors and beta read for each other, or approach people through forums to be your beta readers, but I am wary of asking a complete stranger for their advice, because they may give you negative feedback purely because your book really isn’t their cup of tea.
I will post my tips for proofreading in the future, but if there are any questions you have on the process of self-publishing your book, please do comment below or send me an email.
Michelle is the author and publisher of 8 Visionary Fiction novels, all available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. She spends her days helping Indie Authors to publish their books, taking photographs and making gluten-free cakes.
If you need any help with your publishing journey, please do get in touch with her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can book a Skype session or a phone call with her, or ask questions via email. Please do follow this blog to receive more posts on Indie Publishing.
Disclaimer: All views, ideas and tips presented on this website are my own, based on my own experience and the experience of my clients. It is by no means the only way to do it, or the right way to do it, but it is the way that works for me. Please take what helps you and makes sense to you, and don’t worry about the rest for now. Please know that I take no responsibility for anything that happens as a result of you following my advice. I have created this blog as a resource for Indie Authors to help them make the publishing journey a little easier.