Costa Rica Writer's Retrea

Self-Editing Tips That Save You Money

For 35 years I have been an editor and proofreader. Yes, you read that right. Thirty-five years! I’ve edited everything from legal and medical reports to liner notes for a CD; from press releases to websites; and Ph.D. theses to novels. And yes, I know that both PhD and Ph.D. are correct versions of the abbreviation for the Latin term philosophiae doctor. I read every single day. Being a voracious reader has made me a better editor so the first piece of advice I have for anyone who wants to write a book is, read a book.

Read a best-selling book in the genre in which you want to write and pay attention to the book’s structure, style, diction, tone and narrative voice, as well as the author’s use of punctuation. Take notes. Look up “How to Write a Nonfiction Book Outline” or “writing an outline for a fiction book” on Google, read about that, and then write an outline for your own book. Once you have created an outline, write a first draft of each chapter, paying attention to your narrative tense. Be consistent with it. If you’re recounting something that happened in the past, use the past tense. Think about who your audience is and write for them. Don’t use a flowery word when a simple one will do. These things alone will make your editor very happy and save you considerable expense.


However, before you submit your manuscript for editing, here are seven more things you can do that will save you a lot of money:

  1. Use your computer’s spell check and grammar check on the entire document and make its suggested corrections.
  2. Don’t use the same word over and over within one paragraph. Use a synonym finder to find different ways of describing the same thing.
  3. Pay attention to your diction. Diction is word choice, or the style of speaking that a writer, speaker, or character uses. The diction that you use when you speak or write should be matched to your purpose or audience.
  4. Understand what syntax is. Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language. In this case, it would be the English language. Pay attention to word order.
  5. Read each chapter that you’ve written, carefully, out loud, before you submit it for editing to make sure that it sounds the way you want it to. If you trip up on a sentence when reading it aloud, chances are that others will.
  6. Be concise. Express what needs to be said without unnecessary words. Stay on point.
  7. Make sure that you’ve covered your key points for each chapter.


Don’t skip this self-editing process unless you want to go broke before you sell a single book. I promise it will be worth your time.

About the Author

Christine Bode is the Chief Editor, Publish and Promote, a Proofreader and a Social Media Manager. She is a professional editor and proofreader who is articulate and has a keen eye for details. Christine understands how to create impact through written communication to engage audiences. Her website.

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