Self Publishing Guide – Editing Your Manuscript

by Rachel Sawden
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Editing your manuscript before you publish is a step that requires a great amount of time and care.

In this guide, I’m going to skip over any writing tips and assume that your novel is finished. Your eight-point story arch is mapped, character goals and stakes are established, your story hooks readers from the opening sentence, and leaves them breathless by the last. Perfect!

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Do not, I repeat, do not publish your novel without having a number of eyes read over it, and by people who know novel writing. Not your friends and family.

I would urge you to hire an outside editor to review the story, look for plot holes, things about your characters that don’t add up. Do at least two rounds of this with the same editor.

Before it goes to print, make sure you hire a line editor to weed out spelling and grammatical errors.

Remember our big goal of self-publishing – appear traditionally published!

Editing Services

You will not struggle to find an editor. I used Reedsy, it’s like UpWork but strictly for freelance publishing professionals in all book services. You can research them, shortlist a few, and ask for a quote for their services. They will return saying yes or no to the service, and if yes, a quote of how much they’ll charge. Reedsy is the middleman who collects a premium. I have found Reedsy to be a wonderful resource for writers.

There are many other places to find editors besides Google search:   Ebooklaunch.comBookbaby.comLulu, and Writers Digest 2nd Draft Services. I don’t feel a great need to put too many here because the options are overwhelming.

I tried to double up with my last round of editing asking an editor to edit for spelling and grammatical errors and look out for story improvements also. My novel went to print with spelling and grammar errors. I believe that I overloaded my editor with things to look out for, rather than just paying them to focus on one thing, and paying another to focus on another aspect.

My very lovely and well-read mother assisted with a post-publish round of editing to weed out grammatical and spelling errors but people are still finding them, unfortunately.

A comprehensive-line edit is something that you should not skimp on as a self-published novelist. Spelling and grammatical errors will give you away as an amateur and you do not want to be seen as that!

Pro tip

When you get your formatted manuscripts, save them in their own folder that is clearly marked so you don’t confuse them with any other drafts!

Oh, and make sure you include a Copyright page at the beginning of the manuscript. Depending on whether your work is fiction, non-fiction or memoir you will need different disclaimers. There are many templates online you can copy and paste – and personalize! Or you can pull a book from your bookshelf and copy from those.

Now that your manuscript is perfect, let’s move onto the next step: Formatting your Manuscript!

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