Indie Authors: Self-Editing Before Getting Your Manuscript Edited

By Phoebe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Phoebe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Editing is an important step to publishing, both indie and traditional. A book that is poorly edited can be a big turn off to readers. Bridget McKenna gives an example in her post, “Why I Didn’t Keep Reading Your Book, Part 2“:

Your opening sentence demonstrated that you don’t know the difference between “number,” which is used to describe things that can be counted, such as fenceposts and birds, and “amount,” which is used to describe something functionally impossible to count, like water or sand. So “a large amount of birds” flapping around the very first line of your book didn’t fill me with a sense of promise for your writing or a lot of respect for your editor. I’ll never know whether you told a good story—what I found in the few pages convinced me you couldn’t write well enough for the quality of the story to make a difference to me.

Steamfeed has a list of grammar mistakes to watch out for, so as to keep your readers happy. Examples include it’s v. its, affect and effect, and quotation marks. Continue reading


Indie Authors: Editing Tips to Attract Readers and Save Money

By Digital-Designs (Red Pen, Yellow Pen....) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Digital-Designs (Red Pen, Yellow Pen….) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

No first draft is perfect. That’s why editing is such an important step in the writing and publishing process.

There are a few types of editing:

  • Developmental editing
  • Line editing
  • Proofreading

In a nutshell, developmental editing looks at the big picture of a story, and makes sure the tone is consistent and things make sense. Line editing is more granular, and looks at improving sentences and paragraphs. And proofreading is the last step, making sure everything is grammatically correct.

IngramSpark has an article with nine common questions and answers about editing, if you’d like to read more. Some things to keep in mind are that you, as the author, do not need to blindly accept whatever changes an editor recommends, editors specialize in genres so you want to work with editors who have worked in your genre, and using a style guide is important.

There are a lot of things that indie authors can do on their own, but editing should not be one of them. That said, most of my budget for my self-published books goes to editors, and it can be on the expensive side. To help save some money upfront, it’s good to go through a few rounds of revisions, by either going through a checklist yourself, or asking for feedback from beta readers, or both.

If you’re looking for some help in this area, it may be worth considering joining an author collective or co-op. According to Jane Friedman, “Typically, author collectives are groups of writers who meet for the purposes of workshops, education, and networking. Some require members to pay yearly fees, and some, like the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, have a board that arranges events and provides services to the community.” The article goes on to recommend author collectives and give tips on how to start your own.

If you want to try doing a round of edits yourself first, BookBub offers a list of 12 editing mistakes that authors often make, which can be a good starting point. The first thing is the common adage, “Show, don’t tell.” However, also keep in mind that you don’t want to over describe things to slow down the pace. Also make sure you have believable conflicts, a consistent point of view, and good grammer.

On that note, HubSpot has a list of 10 edits that will improve your writing. A lot of the tips apply more to copywriters, but copywriting is important for indie authors too (think book blurbs). Tips include, making sure your benefits stand out (great for non-fiction books), using active voice, removing adverbs, and keeping paragraphs short. Most of these tips can apply to creative writers as well.

Last, many authors write informative blogs where they share their writing process and other helpful tips. Writer’s Write has a list of their favorite author blogs, as well as group blogs, blog directories, and other blog resources.

Happy writing and editing!

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared June 2016.

Guest Post: 6 Questions (and Answers!) about Editing Contracts You’ll Want to Know

Editor’s note: For more information on what to include in an editing contract, see Megan’s “8 Must-Haves for Freelance Editing Contracts.”

By Megan Harris

If your book is complete, or in the process of being completed, you may start to think about the next steps involving your book–namely, hiring an editor to help you polish your work. Before you send your manuscript off to the cutting room floor, however, it’s important to provide parameters for your project and sign a contract.

Here are some of the most common questions writers who have never hired an editor ask, and some answers to help you along the way! Continue reading

Editing Tips and Resources for Authors

By Ernest-Mtl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ernest-Mtl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to editing your book, authors have a lot of options. The first step is to self-edit. This can help cut down on costs later when you start working with a professional editor (which I highly recommend doing).

Jane Friedman has a great post on how to write a book in three drafts. There’s the messy draft, which is a first draft and often unorganized. Then there’s the method draft, which outlines the messy draft and starts the rewriting process. And last is the polished draft, where you start asking people for constructive feedback from beta readers.

After getting feedback, you can go back and take a look at your paragraphs. Joseph Blake Parker offers six tips on how to write strong paragraphs. Basically, you want to know what kind of paragraph you’re using (descriptive, action, dialogue, etc.), determine paragraph lengths depending on whether you want to slow a scene down or have an action-packed scene, and use important words only one time per paragraph.

Next you can use tools, such as Grammarly or the Hemingway app, to help clean up your manuscript. There’s also After the Deadline, an open-source plugin/extension/add-on/etc. that uses AI and natural language processing to find errors and offer suggestions.

Last, you can hire a professional editor to make your book even better. Some places you can go to find an editor include NY Book Editors, Sandstone Editing, and BookBaby.

After all that, you can choose to either self publish your book or to try and go the traditional route. If you want to go the traditional route, Writer’s Digest has a guide to literary agents, where you can learn more about agents, and get tips on how to query and submit.

Indie Authors: Working with Beta Readers

Beta readers are amazing. They can help find plot holes, grammar mistakes, and other issues with manuscripts. They help save you time and money with editing. And they are part of your fan base, and a great first marketing step for a book. Continue reading

Poetica, A New Editing Tool


Very recently, a new tool for editing called Poetica (that I’ve been waiting on for nearly two years, since I first heard about it at Books in Browsers) launched.

Poetica was created to bring the elegance and trust of paper editing to the digital world. As you can see in the image above, editors can add annotations, comments, and more in different colors. The interface is slick, and meant to promote a collaborative experience. Continue reading

Why You Need an Editor (And How to Save Money Finding One)

After writing a book, the next big step is to edit it. Editing is incredibly important because it helps to make a book the best it can be, by keeping the story flow, making sure all the events are consistent, developing the characters, and even correcting grammatical and spelling errors, among many other things. Continue reading

Widbook Guest Post: Don’t Overwrite On



By Mary Ann Lombardo – Widbook blog

This post was originally featured at the Widbook blog and written by Mary Ann Lombardo. Widbook is a global community for people who love to share stories. Writers can publish their work in an ebook format and readers meet content and everyone get connected! For the last three weeks Widbook has been my guest. See the other two guest posts, “Character Development is Hard and People Are Weird” and “Outlines and Notecards and Timelines, Oh My!

As much as I encourage Widbook writers to Write On, there is a point in which you can overwrite. Self-editing can be tricky, especially when you’re an upcoming writer desperate to prove your wit; an eager beaver with a surplus of literary charm. Continue reading

Indie Authors: Finding an Editor

credara-coverJ E Henderson, author of the Credara series, has kindly agreed to let me publish an email exchange we had, which provides some insight into why it’s important for indie authors to work with editors and how to find the right one.

Henderson’s editor is Lynette M. Smith of All My Best Copyediting.

“I found my editor by a referral,” he said. “If you notice, her website says she edits non-fiction. But she said she would do it because of our mutual friend. Needless to say she made me feel like a grade school dropout. Which was WONDERFUL! She’s really great. I highly recommend her.” Continue reading

A Guide to Grammarly, The World’s Best Grammar Checker


I was lucky enough to recently be granted access to Grammarly, to check out all its features. And boy, are there a lot of features.

But, first a little background. Grammarly is an automated proofreader, which checks for over 250 types of grammatical errors. This includes parallelism, misplaced modifiers, comma splices, subject-verb agreement, etc., and is much more comprehensive than Word’s spelling and grammar check.

The site offers a 7-day free trial, and after that you can choose between three pricing options: monthly, quarterly, and annually. If you choose the annual option of $139.95, you get a significant discount per month ($11.66 per month versus $29.95 on the monthly plan).

Now, on to the features. Continue reading