10 Editing Tips for the Self-Publisher

by Sharman J. Monroe and Keisha G. King, Guest Blogger

Congratulations! You finished writing your book. So many people want to write but can’t seem to get it done. It takes dedication and commitment to write a book. You’ve showed the world you have what it takes. You are awesome!

Although you are self-publishing, your work’s not ready to go yet. Now it’s time to make your manuscript pretty. It’s time to get it ready for printing. It’s time to enter the editing/proofreading phase. You may be thinking, “I don’t know how to edit” or “I don’t need to edit.” I’m sorry to tell you, but you are wrong on both accounts. If you can write, which you did, you can review your work for errors and correct them, and review your work to see if you want to change something in your manuscript. Once your book is printed and circulated, a misspelled word or jumbled sentence will haunt you. Don’t be haunted!  Here are ten editing tips:

  1. Go for the “low-hanging fruit”. Run spell/grammar check. Correct, if necessary, the words underlined in a red or green lines that Spell Check highlights.
  2. Put in on paper. Print your manuscript and read it. I know you know what says, but read it touching a pen or pencil to each word as you read. This process will help you catch many obvious errors, misspellings, absent periods, missed words and incomplete thoughts.
  3. Don’t get sued. Whenever you refer to a source of information other than you, ex., dictionary, website, etc., you must add a formal citation to that source in either a footnote or endnote. Otherwise you open yourself up to being sued for plagiarism or failure to attribute. Once your book is released, you don’t whose hand your book will end up in; it may the author of the information you cited. Add citations. A good website to show you how to do citations is plagiarism.org.
  4. Get permission. Using a footnote or endnote is not enough for some materials. For example, music lyrics. In these cases, you must contact the publisher and request permission to use the information you quoted in your book. The publisher’s contact information can usually be found with a web search. You may need to pay a fee.
  5. Protect your creation. Prepare a copyright page for your book. The copyright page must have the word “Copyright”, followed by “©” followed by the year of printing and then your name. The book’s ISBN number needs to be on this page as well as a phrase that the right to reproduce your work is reserved to you. A good sample of a copyright page can be found on this website: Copyright Page Sample
  6. Say it in pictures. Are you adding pictures or text boxes (5-10 words from the text set in the margin in a box)? If yes, this is the time to add these flourishes.
  7. Get the formatting facts. Your manuscript is typed on a virtual page sized at 8½x11, but your book may not be printed at that page size. It may be printed at 5.5×8 or 6×7 or some other size, Find out from your printer which size will be used in printing your book so you can adjust the margins and page size now.
  8. Know the actual time. Find out from your printer the actual turn-around time for printing based on the day you submit your manuscript. Your printer may need twenty-four hours or more to review and set up your manuscript before it starts printing it.
  9. Use a third eye. It’s your baby so you don’t see the flaws. Hire an editor/proofreader who will read your manuscript and fuss with all those grammar, spelling and punctuation rules you don’t want to know. A good editor can also offer you suggestions to improve the flow of your manuscript turning it into a masterpiece. A good source for editing and proofreading is a professional editing and proofreading service.
  10. Slow your roll. Editing is a process; it’s not a one-time thing. Expect a minimum of four reads, you, your editor, you again, your editor again, to make your manuscript perfect. Don’t rush the process. Haste makes errors that follow you in your published book …. forever.