Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How To Edit Your Book For Free

So just yesterday I received a very kind, very sweet email from a fan telling me she loved Dying for a Living (wait for it--)


She had found a “few” typos. She was also sweet enough to pass along these errors so that I can make changes to the book file and upload it. (That’s one great thing about KDP—instant edits!) I would love to say this is the first time that I’ve received such an email, but sadly, that is not the case. I’ve received a few from different people, pointing out different things.


Because not everyone can see everything.

Not even publishing houses rely on ONE person to do the editing for an entire book. Because like the author who has read/reread/rerereread the book so many times that all the words are the same, every brain has the ability to perform its own “autocorrect”.

So what to do if you are 1) self-published and 2) too poor to hire an editor?

Here are some options:

Get a writer’s group
My writer’s group The Four Horsemen of the Bookocalypse are great at helping me develop content as well as catching nonsense on the sentence level. And it cost nothing to have a writer’s group, except time. So I highly encourage you to seek out other writers to support you and help you grow.

Get beta readers
I have a few friends who are writers themselves or at least good readers who can spot errors. They cost nothing and are an absolutely valuable part of the writing process.

 Enlist the help of your early reviewers
As with my first book, I sent out my book to early reviewers. Many of them were kind enough to point out errors as they read, which led to me being able to make editorial changes before the book was actually published. And while your reviewers are bound to being fair and giving you an honest review, there is no rule that says they can’t point out a typo or tense shift. At least, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Be humble enough to accept the criticism gracefully—even after the book is published
Even after your writer’s group, beta readers, and reviewers, your book is likely to be published with a few minor errors. It happens! Sometimes new errors get written in as changes are made. Or sometimes it is an editorial glitch that most people just won’t notice—but someone will because different flaws irk different people. So when that—kind but inevitable—email rolls in, accept it with grace and gratitude. Someone was nice enough to give you a heads up and though you may be embarrassed, you should also be appreciative.

Consider other cost effective options 

     Here are a few resources you may want to consider:

And this is just the beginning. I am learning all of this myself (I’ve only got 1 book out ya’ll and 1 on the way!) So if you have other great tips for editing your own work for little to no cost, please share that gold below.



  1. My last edit before a book goes out the door is done by reading the story backwards. Obviously you can't read it starting with the last word and working to the first or nothing will make sense but start at the last page, read it through and then go on to the second to last page, etc. It keeps you from being sucked into the story and forces you to focus on the words rather than the scene. It's amazing how much you catch that way!

    1. You make a great point! There are also many little techniques (like reading backwards) that can help us find those mistakes that our eyes tend to "autocorrect".

      Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. I had this happen a few times and remember the panicked feelings afterwords about what to do and what not to do. What some people see as errors aren't errors at all. But whenever i heard these I thought my budding writing career was over. At least she was nice enough to email you though. I had a few blast me on amazon on old editions of Running Northwest when they left reviews. Its a stain that never goes away not matter what you do.

    1. Exactly. Sometimes the errors aren't "errors", just pet peeves and other times they are too minor to disrupt readability. I had a couple of people complain in my reviews as well, but even those still gave me 4 stars--so I have been lucky. But I also can't help but wonder if people LOOK for more errors in Indie work EXPECTING to see mistakes. After all, trad publications also have mistakes, but people rarely comment on them as they do with indie authors.

  3. Helpful. What I do is have an app read the book out to me while I follow the word by line. I find I catch most of the errors that way

    1. That sounds like a great idea! What is the name of the app? And what kind of reading voice does it have?