Saturday, 4 June 2016

Do I really need an editor? #amwriting

The End.

Congratulations! You have finished your manuscript, well done you…now what?
One thing is for certain; this isn’t the end – far from it. And as much I hate to say it, your book is far from perfect…yet. But it will be. It has to be.

You may have stumbled upon this post because you are interested in self-publishing and are looking at your editing options. I know I certainly googled self-publishing enough when I first considered this option, and I bought so many ‘How to..” books on the subject that I have a bookshelf dedicated to it – I know, how sad is that?!

In this competitive market, your manuscript has to shine, regardless of how you hope to publish it. An agent isn't going to look twice at a manuscript full of school-boy errors, and if you are thinking about self-publishing, then your book needs to be at least as good as those produced by the big publishing houses. And this, unfortunately, is not only going to take a great deal of time, but also money.

Everything I have read and everything I have been told states that: 


Sorry, I shouted that, but I thought I would make that clear from the start. 

What does an editor do?

 “There are also two kinds of editing - story editing and line editing. Line editing is about grammar and technical things. Story editing is completely different. It's about character development, scene building, story structure, and narrative voice. Line editing can be done by any experienced grammarian. Story editing requires a whole different level of ability.” Dan Edwards - author

However…not everyone can afford this option. Now I can hear a few people shouting at me – “You should not publish a book that has not been edited by a professional.” In an ideal world, you would have an editor.  I had two editors for my debut novel. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for everyone. So I posed this question to an author’s forum I belong to. Initial I was met with the same “You must have an editor,” response, but then something incredible happened – I started to be given advice, and I learnt a lot, and I want to share that information with you today.

This information is worth taking a note of – even if you do decide to employ an editor. The information I'm about to share with you is fantastic for proofreading. I will certainly be using some of it from now on.

*Please note.
I do not endorse any of the companies or software I am going to mention – until a week ago, I had not heard of half of them. I am merely sharing information.*

Let’s begin…

Basic supplies

A printer

Paper (a lot of it – I go for the cheap pack of printer paper you can get in the supermarket).

Invest in some Stabilo pens (blue and red) – these pens are fine tipped and fantastic for proofreading. In fact, these pens are the ones that most editors and proof-readers use.


A coffee machine – actually that is optional, but it helps!

Time – and by time, I mean time. Give your manuscript a rest, at least a week – preferably longer, because when you come back to it, you will have fresh eyes.

Tip 1

Word Spell Check

Run your manuscript through Word's spell check, but do not rely on this completely. Word spell check, checks to see if you have the right spelling.

For example,

It will not tell you if you should have used past or passed.

It just makes sure you have spelt which ever word you have used…right.

Buy a dictionary – a good one.

Tip 2

Print out your manuscript.

This is a must. You will pick up things from reading your manuscript in print that you completely missed when looking at it on a screen.

Get those pens ready, because you are going to need them.

Read it all the way through to make sure the story flows – if it doesn’t, correct it.

Now it is time to check those words!

When I do this, I do it chapter by chapter. If I had a massive pile of paper on my desk, I would do a runner and never look back! Now this cannot be rushed, take your time. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph needs your attention. A great tip is to read your book backwards. Start with the last chapter and the last page. Read the last sentence and go from there. This way you are not going to get caught up in the story.

Get those highlighters out – highlight every word, one at a time – this is another excellent proofreading tip, it is amazing what you can pick up.

Tip 3

Read it out loud.

Give your characters accents if that helps - but make sure you read what is written and now what is supposed to be written!

now? I meant not... See what I mean?

Tip 4

Take another break and come back to it.

You will need fresh eyes again.

Tip 5

Invest in some software.

There are many programs out there that you can buy that will help you with your grammar. I have one and I wouldn't be without it.

 *Please note the blurb under the logos are the companies own words - not mine!!*


Our software helps turn your good writing into great writing.
Improve readability and eliminate errors.

Grammarly makes sure everything you type
is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free.

Communicate quickly and accurately with Ginger Page's one stop writing shop – writing tools that help you express yourself better.

Meet your new critique partner.

The fresh set of eyes your manuscript needs.
Instant, unbiased feedback without the hassle
Save time and take control of the editing process.
Polish your manuscript and write better fiction.

Expresso is a little tool to edit texts and improve your writing style. It will teach you to express yourself through writing more efficiently and help make your texts more readable, precise, and engaging.

Scribophile is a respectful online writing workshop and writer’s community. Writers of all skill levels join to improve each other’s work with thoughtful critiques and by sharing their writing experience.

StyleWriter will make you a better writer – we guarantee it. A bold claim we know, but that’s what our users tell us. Thousands of people download StyleWriter every month and use it to edit advertising copy, business reports, contracts, manuals, newsletters or web pages. Even professional journalists and novelists use the program to polish their writing style.

Author C.C. Hogan has written a guide to using StyleWriter 4. You can view it here 

Tip 6

Use some software that will read your manuscript back to you.

Convert text to speech or audio files.

Convert text from Word, PDF, Webpages or eBooks into mp3 or wav files.

" A lot of newer laptops/tablets come with narrator software (if not, grab a free narrator download). You can highlight it a line, paragraph, or page at a time to have it read out loud while you read along. What our eyes miss, our ears do not." Michele Gwynn - author.
Tip 7

Upload your manuscript on to Amazon Kindle – BUT DO NOT PUBLISH IT !
"Something I do is load the manuscript up to Amazon Kindle [without publishing], then I read it through probably 3 times over making corrections each time. For some reason I seem to pick up more errors that way than if I just keep checking a Word document." Lynette Rees - author

Tip 8


"Betareaders, betareaders, betareaders! Collect a small team, treat them well and they will fossick out every typo and poorly worded sentence in your book, usually different ones from different readers." Nhys Glover - author.

Ask friends, collegues, the postman?  Join writing forums on Facebook. Or use software such as Scribophile.

" In the end, you may be able to edit out the majority of grammar and style mistakes on your own. But without input on how others perceive the story and characters, you are in the dark. We can never read our own work unbiased by the imagery we already have in our head." Magnus Hedén - author

 Tip 9

Trade services

 Do you have something you could trade?

"I've traded services with a multi-pubbed friend who writes in the same genre. I've designed 5 covers for her (ebook and print), and she's edited my two indie books for me. She's tough and very good." Alison Henderson

Tip 10

Hire an editor.

Ask other authors for recommendations  - finding a good editor can be difficult when you are a newbie, don't be afraid to ask us!

As with almost everything else, you can find editors on fiver as well!!

"I have a friend who has used editors on Fiverr an online market place with millions of professional services for all of her books & says getting the right one can work out quite a bit less than elsewhere." Mary Carter  - author.

“Hire an editor. A good one. If you can't afford one, at least find a student majoring in English, someone who plans to edit or write for a living. You'll find that students have raw passion and will work hard. I wouldn't recommend releasing a book that hasn't had a proper edit. No matter how clean or well written you may think your book is, I can guarantee that a second set of eyes will pick up what you've dropped.” Tanja Kobasic - author

  Tip 11

 If you hire an editor, make sure you proofread your work afterwards. Editors are only human and even they miss things ocassionally. 

I hope you have found something helpful in this post. I would like to take a moment just to thank all the authors, editors and professionals who helped me gather all of this information.

Hall of Fame 
Monette Bebow-Reinhard,  Cindy Campopiano, Alison Henderson, Janet Lewis, Jan Harvey, Angela G. Gentile, Jan Nast Carter, Mary Carter, Magnus Hedén, Michael Hammor, Michelle Sonya Dennison, Ed Ryder, Lynette Rees, Sharon Brunsden, Theron Couture, Peter Wendt, Mattie Sophia, Billy McLaughlin, Chris Calder, KuroKoneko Kamen, Tanja Kobasic, Elyse Bruce, George Hughes, LaTonya Watkins, Barb Lieberman, Michele Gwynn, Bryan Caron, Steph Gregory, Lynette Ferreira, Dain Edward, Tim O'Neil, Lynette Ferreira, Angie Murphy, Billy McLaughlin, Courtney Psak, Robert Harkess, Theresa Nash, Ed Ryder, Stephen Logsdon, Matt Deckman, Gigi Griffis , CeeCee Hogan, Lela Markham, Claire St. Hilaire, Lucy Calhoun, Rebecca Addison, Nhys Glover,

 Happy editing!!



  1. Thanks Mary, all very useful information and those links look well worth looking into.
    Just a word of caution about beta-readers though. I entrusted my manuscript (PDF) to someone for a beta-read who in turn asked for reviews for her new anthology, quid pro quo, and I was pleased to help her out with a number of positive plugs for her work after that.
    So far, I've done all the giving and she's done all the taking, and to date, she's not done anything she promised - my chase-up emails have gone unanswered (after having it for more than five weeks). So, basically, she was a bit of a confidence trickster, and I'm now wondering if many of the other reviews she's had have been achieved in this way as well.
    Just a cautionary tale. I really envy people who are able to find trustworthy collaborators, but sadly, there are a lot of dishonest people out there too. I live in hope though!

    Take care - J

    1. How awful for you. Your warning is something to take very seriously - thank you for sharing with us.


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