Editing Tips for Non-Editors to Master their Work and Be Successful

Writers are basically just small business owners and we are expected to wear a lot of different hats. We can no longer assume one role. The demands are too great. We have to don many hats – concept developer, writer, and editor. I am certainly not saying that you should skip the process of hiring an editor. After all, a book is only as good as the person who edited it. But you can save yourself a ton of money by following a few simple editing tips – one of which is to polish your own book before you send it to a professional.

Plus content is King so you will also be editing your own blog posts, social media content, and other promotional material. This content is required but it would cost you an arm and a leg to pay for editing of it all. What if I told you that you don’t have to be a professional editor to master your work?

As a professional editor, I’m sure you’re ready for me to start with the sales pitch about how you should never try to edit your own work but that’s not what this is about. I’m sure you’ve heard that pitch a million times. I’m going to give you a few editing tips to help you get the ball rolling.

Know the Two Types of Editing

My first editing tip is to learn about the different types of editing so let’s focus on the two most important ones.

Copyediting: This is done on a sentence by sentence level. You will focus on technical issues in the writing. This includes punctuation, spelling, grammar, and consistency. Copyediting and proofreading are almost identical. In short, copyediting is basically advanced proofreading that is done in the beginning whereas proofreading is a final read-through that is done just before publishing.

Line Editing: This focuses more on the content itself rather than the technical issues. You should never try to do line editing and copyediting at the same time. Voice, organization, and strengths are all assessed during the line editing phase. This is a more complex form of content editing that is done later on in the editing phase.

The Four Phases of Editing

There are four phases of editing that are as follows:

  1. Content Editing: Initial review of writing. Strictly observing organization and flow. Here, you should make notes.
  2. Copyediting: You will read the book carefully, checking for technical issues. You will also address all notes made in the content editing phase.
  3. Line Editing: Now the book will be close to polished so this run is designed to focus solely on flow and narrative. It’s basically a second content edit but more strict. You will be fixing issues as they pop up.
  4. Proofreading: Finally, you do one more read-through to ensure that there are no mistakes. This is the final pass before publishing.

Editing Tips for Non-Editors

The words you use in writing makes all of the difference and it will impact your audience in ways that you might not have thought of.

Passive Voice

There isn’t anything wrong with using a passive voice in some situations, but you should always reword a sentence to make it sound more active when possible. Just make sure it doesn’t change the meaning.  An active voice is more engaging and keeps the reader interested.

Meaningless Words

A word that is redundant or meaningless should always be avoided. This is actually a common mistake for writers. If a word does not add to the value of the content, then you can replace it with a more active word that does.


Many writers think that jargon makes them sound more knowledgeable but in most cases, it just makes them come across as a blowhard. Jargon is lazy writing and confuses readers. Replace jargon with universal words. If you confuse them, you lose them.

Follow these simple editing tips so you can get the most bang from your buck. It will make success so much easier to achieve.