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Can I Self Edit My Own Novel? How Hard Can It Be?

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Some people believe that editing your own work is a good idea, while others think it’s terrible. The truth is, you can edit your own work if you want to.

It won’t be perfect and there will probably be mistakes in the book that no one else would have caught, but it could help save time and money for some authors.

Many successful authors do edit their own books because they know what needs to be changed from personal experience. You may not want to self-edit your first book or even second, but after you’ve written many novels then maybe it’s worth a try!

How to start editing your novel?

Editing your novel is not easy. You have to make sure the story flows seamlessly from one chapter into another, while also making sure that it has a logical progression and tone throughout all of its pages.

Sometimes people are unaware they’ve shifted focus on their book’s protagonist or failed to give readers enough information about who should be following at any given time in order for them to understand where the plot is going next.

Editing can be exhaustive work so you want to take care with how much editing gets done as well as what type of edits get made because changing too many things could lead away from what was originally intended by ending up being drastically different than when first authored before publication!

Can you self-edit your own novel?

Steps in editing a novel?

Developmental Editing:

This type focuses on checking for inconsistencies within plots (their progression, tone, and character development), flow of ideas from point to point (whether the author has left gaps or set up a certain scene too early when it could be delayed until later in the story) and overall organization.

It should also catch any inaccuracies with grammar, spelling, syntax, punctuation as well as word choice – all while keeping in mind the style and voice of the author.

Line Editing:

This type focuses on editing for grammar, spelling, syntax, punctuation as well as word choice – all while keeping in mind the style and voice of the author.

Basic Copyediting:

Basic copyediting is usually done by an outside editor who will check basic facts and details in your book, like dates and facts.

Line Copyediting:

Line copyediting is done by the editor who oversees all of the formatting within your manuscript – from headings to captions to chapter titles.


Proofreaders are usually employed on professional publishing houses where they will check for any typos or errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Developmental editors are an indispensable part of the publishing process. These overworked, underpaid professionals will rip apart your manuscript and rearrange it until you’re left with a better book than before—a novel that speaks to readers on deep levels they never knew existed.

As a developmental editor myself, I know all too well what this type of editing is like: having to read through someone else’s prose and decide which words or sentences aren’t working;

Deciding whether subplots should be cut out entirely in order for important themes to shine brighter; even deleting entire chapters if necessary!

How long to finish line editing my novel?
How long to edit a novella?

But my work doesn’t end there – these days most writers don’t want just any old feedback from “another reader.” They need help bringing their manuscript to publication-ready status.

If you’re an aspiring author, developmental editing is a must! You’ll learn about plot, structure, tone and theme. This will make your book better in the end with improved focus on what’s important to readers.

It can be expensive but I still recommend it because of all that you get out of this service (even if there are some things they offer which might not apply).

Line edits are used to improve the flow and pace of a story. They cover things like awkward sentence structure, run-on sentences that confuse action, or tonal shifts in order to make your eyes cross less often if you’re doing it yourself.

Copy editing helps correct errors like spelling, punctuation, and syntax on a technical level.

It is great if you have an editor who can do all three types of edits–copy-editing included–but it’s also good to get these done in any way possible. However expensive they are for your budget though!

The bottom line here: If you want to create a high quality book that people enjoy reading then find some editors!

You’re at the final stage of editing and after completing all developmental edits, it’s time to tackle some line or copy edits.

These are quick fixes that you can implement easily if you know what to look for so make sure not to do them until your editor has gone over everything with a fine-tooth comb.

They will be able to see any grammar mistakes I might have missed in my mad dash through this manuscript because there is bound (or likely) going to be some.

List of 10 online editing services

How long does editing a novel take?

The first step in editing your manuscript is reading through it. You will most likely notice some things as you read that need attention, so don’t be afraid to make notes for yourself and edit accordingly.

The best way to deal with these changes is one or two at a time instead of all at once, because then they won’t overwhelm the story by the end (trust me on this).

I highly recommend putting space between passes; just like any good book club meeting or college essay writing tutoring session needs breaks in-between readings.

As the protagonist, you have to start your story with a problem that needs solving. So rather than telling readers everything about the world and backstory through exposition in dialog or narrative sequences early on, sprinkle it throughout chapters so they can slowly learn more as they go along.

The most important thing is making sure there’s enough of a compelling opening for when readers first pick up your book- don’t give away too much information at once.

What to look for when editing a novel?

Pacing is crucial to writing. Paying attention and making adjustments for pacing can make a huge difference in your finished product—whether it’s a story, speech, or anything else that needs an audience’s full attention.

If the pace feels too slow then you need more showing than telling; if it feels rushed there should be some more tellings rather than showings. Believe it or not but sometimes when the pace seems jumpy and erratic this could mean transitions between scenes are needed because these gaps really interrupt everything.

What do I recommend? Sometimes breaking up chapters into smaller sections would help (or just lessening how often switch of scene occurs) so that readers will have time to adjust without feeling confused by all those confusing jumps back and forth.

It’s impossible for an author to know what they’ve written long enough before writing it, but you can always put yourself in a reader’s shoes and go through the whole story or chapter with them as their guide.

Questions to ask when editing a novel?

You have to be careful with transitions.

You want the reader to feel like they’re immersed in your story rather than being jarred by jarring words or phrases that don’t flow smoothly together and pull them out of a scene, which can quickly cause confusion about what’s happening because it doesn’t make sense anymore.

So take note when you see something isn’t working as well so you know where to cut it off, but also study for key transitional passages such as those between chapters since these are important tools used throughout the manuscript.

Does a publisher edit novels?
How much should I pay an editor?

I found this difficult at first too because I had all sorts of different ideas running through my head on how things should go and wanted everything included without ever considering whether there was enough room left.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “less is more.” Did you know that it’s true? You don’t need to use a verb all of the time.

In fact, using too many verbs can weaken your sentence and make them sound repetitive or generic when they could be strong by themselves!

To avoid this problem in future writing sessions, try substituting stronger words for less impactful ones like he nodded instead of he knew that as well as replacing several students with just one student who did something special.

How long does it take to self-edit a novel?

Editing your own novel can take anywhere from a couple of months to a over a year.

The pace at which you edit largely depends on how often and intensely you work, as well as the size of your book. However, if you work consistently (and it’s not too long), editing could be completed in 4 months time.

Should I get my book edited before sending it to an agent?

Despite the many benefits of self-publishing, it can be difficult to get your work noticed in an overcrowded marketplace.

You may need some help from editors who have access to a distribution network that you don’t.

It’s important not just for spelling and grammar errors but also organization and clarity so readers know what they’re getting into by picking up your book (or e-book).

When you stop submitting novels or other pieces of writing to agents due diligence is needed before publishing them yourself through social media sites like blogs or Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Make sure there are no typos, bad punctuation usage, continuity issues with story lines at multiple locations as well as any formatting problems such as spacing between paragraphs which might confuse people reading on e-readers.

If you’re self-publishing through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing then it’s a good idea to have someone edit your book for spelling, grammar and continuity errors as well as organization of content.

This is not the same thing as selecting “Check Grammar” on Microsoft Word or another writing program which will only check for punctuation usage but won’t tell you if there are any misplaced words in sentences that could be unclear to readers.

People also ask

Do publishers edit your book?

It is not the job of publishers to edit your manuscript. Their goal, instead, is to pick out a work worthy enough for their prestigious company and they are usually at least looking over it before accepting or rejecting it. If you don’t want editing on something that isn’t your strong suit then check out online services as an alternative solution!

Is Self Publishing worth it?

The question of whether to self-publish or get a publisher is difficult. If you know what your end goal for the book might be, then it’s easier to make that decision–self publish if you want more creative control and are willing to pay upfront with higher royalties; go through a publishing company when money isn’t an issue for either option (and don’t need as much creativity).

What is the difference between line editing and copyediting?

Copy editors are responsible for looking at the general mechanics of a piece, like grammar and spelling. Line Editors focus on style, examining sentence structure in order to make them more engaging.

Resources relating to Can I Self Edit My Own Novel:

How to Edit Your Own Book – MasterClass

Self-Editing Basics: 10 Simple Ways to Edit Your Own Book

How to Edit a Book: 7 Simple Steps – Jerry Jenkins

How To Edit A Book (Self Editing Tips From a 4X Bestseller)