Self-editing: Why do it?


So, you think you're ready to submit your manuscript to a publisher, or you're ready to send it off to a developmental or copy editing service to polish it to within an inch of its life before you self-publish. After all the writing, rewriting, rewriting some more have been done, don't neglect to go back through and do a little self-editing.

"Why?" you may say. "That's what I'm paying editors for."

The reason is simple. You want to send your manuscript to your editors, those guys you're paying the big bucks to, and allow them to concentrate their time and efforts where you need it most: character development, timeline issues, those pesky acronyms POV and GMC. If your book goes to them riddled with simple mistakes that you could have fixed yourself, that makes it so much more difficult for them to concentrate on the really good stuff you've written. All those beautiful words for which you gave up vitamin D in order to sit in your dark little corner and type into your word processing program.

Hey, I'm not trying to train you to do my job. By self-editing, you're training yourself how to look for those errors that stand out like a red poppy in a field of green grass. You're always going to miss something. We all do, especially when we've read the same words over and over and our brain insists on supplying that missing word or doesn't see that you've used "your" when it should have been "you're." That's what you pay your copy editor to find when you've finished that final draft.

So, today I thought, hey, I'll put together a few things that authors can look for when they're self-editing. Sort of a self-editing, self-help list. But then I thought, hey, why do that when there are so many good articles on the subject? With that in mind, below are my top three reads for self-editing. And by all means, don't forget Strunk and White's Elements of Style.

Self-Editing Basics: 10 Simple Ways to Edit Your Own Book from The Write Life

The top 10 golden rules of self-editing from The Writer

The 7 Deadly Sins of Self-editing from The Writer's Digest

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