Book Editing: Follow These 10 Easy Steps and Edit Your Manuscript

It doesn’t matter if you’re self-publishing your book or planning on working with the traditional publishing houses. The first step you do take when done writing a manuscript is to edit your work.

No literary work ever becomes a published book after its first draft. All types of bestseller authors have gone through various book editing, reviews, and drafts of all types. It would help if you also edited because you ask readers to come into the world you’ve created.

This gives you the mandate to deliver a top-notch story that’s good and engaging with no type of structural problems or technicality that makes the story hard to read—this goes for nonfiction too.

There’s a need to make sure that all the line is clear, necessary and concise. Most readers tend to put aside works that they find pretty hard to read. To summarize this, book editing entails the difference between what a great book is and a good story.

Let’s look at the steps you can take to edit your book. But if you are struggling to write your book, you can check my post on  How to Write a Book in 7 Simple Steps

Book editing made easy in 10 Simple Steps

1. Set Manuscript aside

Now that you’re done with the Manuscript do set it aside for just a few days. And if you can control yourself the more, set it aside for about a week. Most bestselling authors use the technique of setting their work for weeks, even months before they look at it again for book editing.

You might want to ask, so what’s the reason for this move? Well, the answer is, it is advisable to set aside and forget all that you’ve written so that when you do come to make your self-edit, the book seems new to you. You do need fresh eyes at this time, and one of the best ways to do that is to get rid of the loads of stuff that’s filled it when you started writing.

2. Read Aloud

When you hear a story being read aloud, that’s more suitable for book editing than simply reading and clearing the observed mistakes. So I advise that you settle down in some quiet place, or a place that synchronizes with your mood, then read aloud to yourself, and if you have a friend willing to hear your story out, read it out to them.

You can also make a record of yourself reading it aloud to yourself and playing it back. Or, if you have an Amazon Kindle tab, you can use that and let the software read out loud to you—this is a fun way to edit a book, in my opinion.

When doing this, make sure you keep a copy of your book open on your computer, making sure to revise all types of grammatical mistakes that are a concern at first glance or you hear from your gadgets.

3. The Big Picture

When making your first book editing pass, that should be a development edit. Make sure you are keen-eyed and look for any problems with the storyline. Make sure there is a logical succession of the plot points, which creates the flow right from start to finish.

To find the plot holes that need the appropriate fixing, endeavor to make sure your subplots do collaborate with the main crux of the story.

Make sure your character arc and all the necessary details of your character are three-dimensional with clear goals and believable traits. And while you look at the character details, make sure you flow precisely with your details from start to finish.

4. Pesky words

We are all human, and we can’t be perfect when handling book editing. So, when writing, all you need to do at that moment is check out the wrong words and endeavor to cross them out. Most writers are known to have these pesky or problematic words which show up from time to time.

Read also, Book Publishing Made Easy: Follow These Simple Steps to Publish a Book

And to help you consider what words have issues here’s a good starting list below;

  1. Your/you’re
  2. Good/well
  3. Affect/effect
  4. That/who, etc.

So, use your words wisely to have excellent work in the end.

5. Zoom the words

To get a clearer picture of all of the words in your mind. First, make sure all the scenes have a goal, like speeding the plot to the right spot, aiding the character development, and escalating conflict as the scenes are duly broken down when editing a book. Next, go over the dialogues and cut out all the unnecessary clutch words and banter. Finally, make sure the opening is pretty strong, and the climactic scene is catchy and links all the dots in the story.

6. Double-spaces removed

If you’re the kind that taps two spaces following your sentence, then I must advise you to change it and choose or practice a method much better.

You can conduct a find-and-replace search when you’re done writing. For example, in your word document, you can follow the technique of typing two spaces in ‘find’ and one space in ‘replace,’ then proceed by pressing enter.

With that done, you’ve just done a new practice—I believe you should give yourself applause by this time!

7. Pesky punctuation marks

Do you make commas unnecessarily? Most times, we believe the punctuation can do the deed in work, so we apply it to our work. But that’s quite the reverse.

At this book editing stage, I’ll like to inform you to do a thorough checkup on all colon and semi-colon placement.

Now, if you do know you have trouble in identifying specific punctuation marks, search for the mark on your Word document, and try to figure out for yourself if in any way you’re using it the right way.

If, peradventure, you feel ‘this isn’t right,’ then let your editor do the job and give him all the necessary directions they need.

8. Use an Automated Editing Program

Never get accustomed to the colorful squiggles under your words and

sentences—that’s the beginning of disaster. And, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not guilt-tripping you. However, I get excited and somewhat accustomed to seeing those colorful squiggles under them, so you’re not alone in this.

But it isn’t right to run rampant on grammar as well as usage in any way. You have to know that the squiggles you see mean something and are not some item used to design your page. At least, to do all the deeds done, why not run a spell check on the given document before you send your manuscript to a beta reader or an editor.

Read also, Self-Publishing a Book: 18 Powerful Steps to Becoming a Best Seller Author

Try to do this; at least you’re going to save yourself from a whole lot of stress. Not only you but also your editor.

9. Be the Copy-Editor

Next up, do a checkup on the structural integrity of your draft. Make sure to go from sentence to sentence, line to line, and fix up all the errors observed by you. If there are any grammatical and punctuation errors left, then fix them up.

Do also find and replace words that are repeated often by you; these are known as crutch words—doing this would make your book editing easier.

If you do find lines written in passive voice, rewrite them into active voice. Finally, check the structural makeup and the word choice, making sure to keep in mind that simple is always good; yes, it is!

10. Format

book editing

Before sending your given Manuscript to a publisher or agent, do make sure it’s correctly formatted. And if you’re not sure how an agent would receive your Manuscript, then all you have to do is use the industry-standard book formatting procedures.

Do make sure that your book is on Microsoft Word document, double spaced, with new paragraphs, no indents in any way, page breaks between chapters, and a 12-point Times New Roman font. For more clarity, you can check my post on how to format Amazon ebook Using Microsoft word


I’ll like to add this titbit here before I stop. To give yourself a good chance in book editing, you need to have this in mind; you need to learn how to edit your Manuscript so that a publisher can turn it into some book.

So whether you want to tread the traditional path in publishing or self-publish, your Manuscript needs to be top-notch. No one wants to handle work that’s less standard in any way. Remember that your target audience does not know who you are and are a bit fickle when you don’t reach their standard of the best.

In essence, you cannot pique the interest of your readers if your book lacks proper formatting or is full of inconsistency or typo errors—don’t even think you can get a traditional publishing contract. It would be pretty slim for you.

So, make sure you separate yourself from the competition by ensuring that your Manuscript is the best it can ever be. Then, wow your readers and make them thirst for your work; this is why we want to book editing. If you’re a self-publisher, please, and please book edit your work like it was the last thing you wanted to until it’s as clean and crisp as possible and you’re so gladdened with it.

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Hi, I'm Benedict. The founder of Bennyselfpublishing Academy. A platform designed to teach people how to write and publish their books online and offline from the comfort of their homes. When I am not writing, I am outside playing football or watching my favorite team Chelsea play.

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