mastering self editing your ebook

It’s certainly no secret that editing is one of the least loved parts of writing. For every word that is written, another round of edits must be made. Frustration aside, editing is one of the most important aspects of developing and delivering an expertly crafted eBook. World-famous writer Stephen King agrees wholeheartedly, stating that “to write is human, to edit is divine.” For most eBook writers out there, this rings completely true.

Thankfully, editing your eBook doesn’t need to be as painful as it looks. In this article, we are going to look through these self-editing steps:

  • What self-editing means
  • Why self-editing is important
  • Common editing mistakes
  • Tips for self-editing your book
  • Helpful eBook editing software
  • If you should hire a pro

What Is Self Editing?

If you have ever changed a line of text in Microsoft Word, you have practiced self-editing! Put simply, self-editing is simply the process of editing your book without any outside (human) help. Self-editing can include a built-in spellcheck program, a professional grammar website, or even a quick read-through. In fact, the vast majority of self-editing takes place directly during the writing process.

When it comes to writing an eBook, many authors self-edit their pieces in small chunks while they write. Others prefer to wait until they are completely done writing before they begin the editing process. Truthfully, the best and most efficient method of self-editing is pacing yourself while you go.

Related article: Understanding Fonts and Typography: A Complete Guide

Why Self-Editing Is Important To eBook Publications

It goes without saying that self-editing is important to the eBook publishing process. According to the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guide, there are dozens and dozens of considerations involved with proper formatting. Editing your eBook correctly is one of the most important parts of this process.

Doing it right the first time will help you reduce the time spent between writing and publishing your work. Even better, this system works extremely well for those who are just breaking into the business. Self-editing is a wonderful (and daresay low risk) way of acclimating yourself to the requirements of self-publishing.

The best part of editing your eBook? Self-editing is completely free, and comes with no out-of-pocket costs. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Common Editing Mistakes In eBooks

Some editing mistakes are due to human error, some are attributed to our machines, and still others are associated with outdated writing processes.

These are the ones to be aware of:

  • Double spaces at the end of sentences are no longer necessary for proper formatting. If you still find yourself double-tapping the spacebar at the end of every period, you may need to retrain your brain a little.
  • Don’t try to make yourself sound ‘more’ than what you are by pulling out the thesaurus. In other words, don’t let a $10 word do what a $5 word could do better.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get the work done. Avoid being too ambitious with your time frames, especially if you’re new to the self-editing practice.

Tips For Self-Editing Your Next eBook

Despite all the advanced warning, you might be surprised just how painless self-editing can be. In fact, you may actually find yourself enjoying it!

Here are 10 tips for mastering the self-editing process on your next eBook, with as little flinching as possible!

  1. Start with Spell Check. Remember that you are only writing the initial draft, not the final piece! It’s perfectly okay to start your editing at the surface level.
  2. Leave your manuscript alone for a while. We mean it! Giving your piece some extra time to lie low will allow you to edit with a fresher perspective, and catch many mistakes you would have glossed over at first.
  3. Search and replace any problematic words or phrases. In professional and creative writing alike, phrases like ‘alot’ and ‘there is’ should be removed if at all possible.
  4. Look for any of the common mistakes we talked about above. This will really start to refine your eBook moving forward.
  5. Read the piece out loud. Yes, from start to finish! You might be surprised by how many mistakes you catch in the process.
  6. Eliminate anything that falls outside of your planned formatting. Ensure that all words are properly spaced, all letters are flat black, and all lines are in 12-point font. Even if the former isn’t the format you plan on using, make sure that you’re sticking with your predetermined plan.
  7. Set aside a few minutes a day to do your editing. With planned focus time, you’ll be even more productive.
  8. Create a deadline or goal and stick with it. When do you need the piece edited, and how long will you be willing to wait? Adjust accordingly.
  9. Consider getting rid of any distractions while you edit. No more phone notifications or microwave beeping!
  10. Allow yourself to be happy with the final product. You could edit your work forever, but will you ever be happy? Find a place where you can be satisfied with your achievement.

Software For eBook Editing

Spellcheck is a great place to start on your self-editing journey, but it is by no means the place to stop. If you’re looking for some free or lost-cost software to help self-edit your eBook, there are a lot of options to choose from.

Below are some of our personal favorites:

  • Microsoft Office offers a built-in editing system that scores your grammar, formatting, word choice, and many other elements of style. If you aren’t terribly picky about your tools, this one is the way to go!
  • The Hemingway Style Checker is an online program that grades your prose on many levels. Not only will it identify the grade level of your writing, but it can also provide some very actionable advice related to your use of adverbs, conjunctions, and more. Their multi-colored highlights make it easy to stay on your A-game.
  • Grammarly is a free program that can be used as a Chrome extension or Google Docs addition. The advice provided is relatively sound, and can be a great way to declutter longer book sections.

While software can be helpful during your self-editing process, it should be noted that no line of code can ever replace the work of your own mind. In other words: you will likely catch more of your own mistakes than a program will. It’s best to use both in conjunction with one another, especially during the final phases of your project.

Related article: How To Protect Your Book From Plagiarism

Professional eBook Editors: Yay Or Nay?

Not everyone feels as though they have the time, talent, or expertise to edit their eBook alone. In fact, the editing process may take longer than the writing portion itself. If you are planning to professionally publish your eBook, or sell it anywhere online, you will need to ensure that your book is totally error-free.

Not feeling confident in your skills could push you to hire a professional rather than self-edit your work. However, it is important to remember that anyone can self-edit their work, with or without the help of a professional.

Here are some benefits to hiring out an editor:

  • Professional editors have seen it all, read it all, and corrected it all. They will be able to look at your work with fresh eyes, and provide you with a completely authentic report of necessary changes.
  • Editors are trained to look for other mistakes beyond simple spelling errors. Good editors can help you cut the fat out of your eBook. Great editors will help guide the core of your story. Your editor can advise you on other aspects of your eBook, including formatting.

Below are some negatives to investing in a professional eBook editor:

  • Good editors do not come cheap. Expect to pay an hourly or project-based rate according to the editor’s skill.
  • Professional editors tend to take a lot of time. This may set back your deadlines by several weeks.
  • Your editor might want you to make changes that you feel distracts from the purpose of your book. You may feel as though their work is unnecessary for your needs.

At the end of the day, self-editing your own work is an important and even necessary skill to learn. If you want to be a well-rounded writer, it’s a good idea to get lots of experience in all aspects of the process. Yes, this does include editing!

Editing is absolutely vital to any eBook publication, and should be done long before you ever submit your work to a professional platform like Kindle. However, there are many ways to ensure your work is picture-perfect first, like troubleshooting from a ‘common errors’ checklist. Editing software and programs, including good ol’ spellcheck, can help you stay on course.

Be certain the love you pour into your work is completely self-evident. Following along with the self-editing process is a great way to maintain the integrity, thrill, and impact of your work. You can be your own writer and editor — you just have to get started somewhere.

Happy editing!