I know a lot of you want to learn how to edit your own book. While it’s not something I recommend for a lot of different reasons, there are some steps you can take to improve the chances of catching mistakes.
Tip 1: Take a Break before Editing
Most experts agree that if you want to learn how to edit your own book, then you need to wait a specific amount of time after writing the draft to edit it. This puts distance between you and the writing, providing a fresh perspective.
The time to wait is highly debated but my recommendation is to let your draft sit for at least 10 days before editing it.
Tip 2: Be Prepared to Do Twice as Many Editing Passes
When you hire an editor, there are generally four distinct phases and each one can be done in a single pass by a professional editor. However, that’s only because they are completely separated from your story and professionals have experience in editing that you simply don’t have. Deciding how to edit your own book requires you to take up a different mindset. You will have to do no fewer than 8 passes.
Tip 3: Start with Developmental Editing
The first editing pass should always focus on the big picture. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, spelling, or other minor mistakes. Those are picked up during the proofreading phase. Instead, the first pass should focus on character development, plot points, and other story-related issues.
Tip 4: Read it Aloud
There’s a ton of software that will read your text aloud. Hearing a story gives you a fresh perspective, which is an important part of the editing process. If you want to take it a step further, record yourself reading it. Edit it while recording and then again while listening to the audio. This gives you edits from two perspectives.
Tip 5: Copyediting is Done Line-by-Line
Copyediting is the most tedious part of the editing process because it must be done line-by-line. Read a sentence, fix it, and then move onto the next. During this phase, don’t worry about developmental issues. They should be fixed by now. Your job is to go through your entire book one line at a time.
Tip 6: Always Proofread the Book
Give your book a final proofing or two to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Put yourself into the shoes of the reader and just enjoy your book, fixing any typos that might have slipped through the process. I recommend that you put your book away for at least a week before proofreading it.
Final Thoughts on How to Edit your Own Book
Learning how to edit your own book is a meticulous process. You will need to do twice as many passes and it’s still highly likely that mistakes will slip through. But it’s not impossible. Just be patient and make sure you don’t rush through the process. Editing usually takes months to get right.