This is Why You Shouldn’t Edit Your Own Book by Guest @Alexandria_SZ

By Rachel Thompson | #NaNoProMo

May 09
This is Why You Shouldn't Edit Your Own Book by Guest @Alexandria_SZ #edit #writers #books #NaNoProMo

"I can edit my work."

I hear this all the time, and while it may be true for your blog posts, it's definitely not the case for your books.

Some fellow writers claim they don’t have to worry about edits such as misspellings, grammar mistakes, or even plot-holes because once their book is accepted by a publisher, their editor will fix any errors.

Hmmm… That wasn’t true when my agent was sending my first novel out to publishers almost 30 years ago. In fact, if you weren’t already a bestseller or a celebrity with an established audience, no agent or editor would even look at your book unless it was already well written and well-edited.

If you self-publish, your readers will expect your work to have the same quality editing that traditionally published books have. You know how to write your own book, and no one else could write it better. But can you edit it yourself?


Enter this massive Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Developmental Edit

If you’ve taken a creative writing class, attended a writing conference, or turned your manuscript over to beta-readers or members of a critique group, you’ve been exposed to developmental editing. No matter which genre or type of book you write, developmental editing is important at a very early stage in the book’s development, after the first or second complete draft.

The people in the groups I’ve mentioned can point out areas where you could strengthen your plot or make characters more realistic, indicate where you should delete or add dialogue, show you how to emphasize certain themes, etc. Even the most skilled writer has people they rely on for feedback at the developmental level.

I don’t know how I would have become a published author without my beta readers, all of whom still provide valuable critique on my books.

Prepare to be challenged and encouraged at this stage. Paul D. McCarthy writes:

“Successful collabora­tion allows the author to feel sustained and liberated by knowing that she doesn’t have to bear the burden of creation, development, and refinement alone.”

At some point, you need to make a list of people who will be available to you for developmental editing.


Some people mistakenly refer to “proofreading” as “editing.” When traditional publishing houses talk about proofreading, they mean the final check for any typographical errors after the book is laid out in its final, designed format. It’s an author’s responsibility to proofread the book for the very last time.

For that reason, any typographical errors are blamed on the author, not on any of the book’s editors.

If you are publishing your book yourself, you will need to have at least one person (even if you have to pay them) who can proofread your book after it’s formatted for print or e-book, before you do a final read-through yourself. You should make a list of people who will be able to proofread your book for you.

Edit Your Own Book?

As an author, you have control of the quality of your product by telling a great story that the readers can’t put your book down. Good editors ensure that the story is its best and that nothing jolts the readers out of your book’s story.

As the author, you can write and revise your book, but you need editors to ensure the high quality of the final product. Reader reviews for both traditionally and self- published books are quick to indicate when a book has been poorly edited. Bad reviews can hurt your sales. 

As soon as you start writing your book, you should start planning (and budgeting for) the editors you’ll need.


Copy Edit (first 10K words) of any novel, novella, short story collection, or memo book

($500 value)

Important Info Regarding Your Manuscript (expand)

Please note that Dr. Alexandria Szeman will copy edit only the first 10K words (approximately 40 pages typed double-spaced) of any novel, novella, collection of short stories, memoir, or non-fiction book. This prize is not developmental editing, i.e., the book excerpt you submit should be in a revised and finished format. 

The submission will be copy edited within 1-3 months of Dr. Szeman’s receipt of all requisite materials. The manuscript will be returned to the author as a Word docx with editorial Comments.

Though every precaution will be taken with the author’s manuscript, computer glitches can happen: do not send your only copy of an original manuscript. We cannot be responsible for its loss.

Manuscript Requirements for Copy Editing (expand)

• Manuscript of first 10,000 words (approximately 40 DS typed pages) of the beginning of a novel (or novella or memoir or nonfiction book). If you are submitting a short story collection for copy editing, please be sure that the stories submitted are complete: this is for comprehension; only the first 10K words will be actually copy-edited.

• Author’s name, complete mailing address, phone number, and email must be on the first page of the manuscript submitted for editing. Proposed title and genre may be supplied at the beginning of the manuscript but are not necessary: if you include them, they are not considered part of the word count. (Note: your contact information will not be shared with anyone at any time.)

• Author’s name must be in the header, on each page of the submitted manuscript, and submission must be paginated.

• Manuscript must be supplied as one Word docx, with page breaks between chapters, sections, individual stories, etc. 

• Manuscript should be typed double-spaced in Times New Roman font size 12 only

* Author’s software version of Word must be current or author will not be able to open and read edited manuscript* (current version 16.24)

• No footnotes, indexes, glossaries, bibliography, list of resources, Works Cited, etc.

• No children’s picture books

*Please note that Read & Write Permissions must be granted or manuscript cannot be edited: [To allow Read & Write Permissions in manuscript, choose Review in the ribbon tabs > Protect Document > Protection, and be sure the box in front of Protect document for is unchecked so that all the choices beneath that line are greyed out]*

This is Why You Shouldn't Edit Your Own Book by Guest @Alexandria_SZ #edit #writers #books #NaNoProMo

Want to win this giveaway? Simply leave a comment WHY below!

All comments must be left prior to midnight on Thursday, May 14th, 2020 in order to be eligible to win. Winners for the week announced on Friday, May 15th.

Good luck!

Dr. Alexandria Szeman

Dr. Alexandria Szeman is an award-winning author who founded her own publishing house after retiring from University where she was a Professor of Creative Writing, World Literature, and Professional & Technical Writing. After learning book design and distribution, Alexandria began publishing other authors. The advent of e-books allowed Alexandria to put her own out-of-print books back into the market while allowing her to continue to publish fellow literary authors in all genres

For a more detailed plan on developing your book marketing, purchase Rachel’s new book,
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About the Author

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…),,, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and two live Twitter chats: #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with TheRuralVA, Emilie Rabitoy) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with C. Streetlights and Judith Staff. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

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(19) comments

Ernie Fink May 9, 2020

The more I read these, the more I understand how much work has to go into writing. At times, it seems somewhat daunting. But at least I am learning what is done.

    Alexandria Szeman May 10, 2020

    Writing a book is a lot of work. Publishing a book, which includes editing, etc. is a whole different job. Since publishers are usually the ones that handle that aspect, including the costs, authors have never realized how expensive it is to publish, print, and distribute books. Now all these different jobs, some of which have been freelance for decades, are available to individual authors and not just to traditional publishers.

Maya Garcia May 9, 2020

This guest post is very enlightening. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into both writing and publishing books. Mere writing prowess isn’t enough, an author needs a lot of collaborators in order to craft a compelling story!

    Alexandria Szeman May 14, 2020

    Hey, Maya,
    I’ve been trying to reply for days: my response kept disappearing.

    Writing is one job unto itself. Editing and getting the book ready for publishing is a whole new job. Then there’s publishing, distribution, marketing. It’s a lot of work for any authors. A

McKenna Dean May 10, 2020

This is one area in which I can say with confidence I am NOT qualified to edit my own work! I’m too close to it, and my brain tends to autocorrect without my input. 🙂

I work with crit groups and beta readers, and then run my manuscript through an editing app to find the easily correctable mistakes before I send anything for editing. My goal is the cleanest, most polished draft possible before contracting an editor. A good editor is worth their weight in gold. I don’t want to waste their time or my money either!

I’m glad to see this post because I think professional editing is a necessary step in publishing that many people are willing to skip and hope no one will notice.

    Alexandria Szeman May 10, 2020

    We all read over our mistakes, or assume that how we think a character sounds is how everyone reading it will assume the character says something. Once, all my beta readers put “ha ha” at the same place in a book and that was not how I’d meant it at all. Editing in traditional publishing is done on completed books, which may be why so many people simply don’t get all the steps involved in publishing a book, which is separate from writing one. A

Felita Daniels May 10, 2020

I would love to win this giveaway for a novella I have written. It was meant to be a short story to submit to a magazine. It had a life of its own. Now I would like to make it into a series.

Having it edited (even 40 pages) would show me the areas I need to brush up on from English classes taken years ago.

    Alexandria Szeman May 14, 2020

    Isn’t it wonderful when stories take off on their own?

    Please do note that this giveaway is copyediting only, which is done on a completed manuscript. A

Justin Bienvenue May 10, 2020

Great article. It’s true, as much as we think we can edit our work we can’t. If we can’t hire an editor we should at the very least have a proofreader or another set of eyes to look it over.

    Alexandria Szeman May 14, 2020

    Thanks, Justin. Copy editing, designing, proofreading, printing, distributing… whew. that’s why publishing is an entire industry. A

David Smurthwaite May 10, 2020

Great advice and overview of the editing process. Up until a few months ago, I didn’t understand the different levels of editing. Thanks for furthering my education!

    Alexandria Szeman May 14, 2020

    You’re welcome, David. You might like having a look at last year’s #NaNoProMo where I talked about all the levels of editing at a traditional publishing House. A

    Alexandria Szeman May 14, 2020

    David, glad this helped. If you missed last year’s #NaNoProMo post, I talked more about different levels /types of editing at traditional publishing Houses. A

Daniella Shepard May 11, 2020

Thanks for the article. I think one of the things that makes editing your own work difficult is separating yourself from your writing. No matter how good a job you do it is still good to get a peer review of your work to get a different perspective. That being said, edit it to the best of your abilities before sending it to a professional editor.

    Alexandria Szeman May 14, 2020

    Very well said. You should always send a completed manuscript to an editor, when you and all your beta readers think it is absolutely perfect. Otherwise, an editor can’t do their best job for you. A

Roseanne May 13, 2020

To win this prize would be amazing opportunity to help settle my mind. My self editing needs a mind set I’m still developing. I believe my characters are realistic, the plot unfolds at a good pace and asks heaps of questions. But, yes the but, is it what readers want to read, or is it what I want to write? I’d appreciate a professionals opinion.

    Alexandria Szeman May 14, 2020

    All the things you’re worrried about are all the things that beta rreaders read and criti

      Alexandria Szeman May 14, 2020

      (sorry for the incomplete: my computer keyboard is much misbehaving today)

      All the concerns you have about your story are exactly the things that beta readers critique. Editors, except when doing developmental editing, deal with manuscripts that are considered complete and perfect by the author and their beta readers. A

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