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Editing & Proofreading Your Book: Tips for Getting Started

May 05, 2021 (Last Updated October 04, 2023)

Marcy G.

Many new writers and self-publishers make the mistake of getting their books printed without having their work professionally edited. This ends up hurting you in the long run, because as much as we want to take pride in our writing abilities, another set of eyes can catch mistakes that we overlook, while offering constructive criticism about word choice, flow, sentence structure, and more. Think about how many published books you have read that have random spelling errors or poorly worded sentences - the most talented writers still need editors. Mistakes like these not only reduce your credibility as a writer, but they distract the reader from your content.

Before you look for a professional editor, it's important to understand what kind of editing you need.

Types of Editing

Manuscript Assessment or Critique: Manuscript assessment or critique is an early-stage evaluation of a manuscript. Editors provide a detailed report with feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the work, helping authors refine their ideas before they start extensive revisions.

Developmental Editing: Developmental editing focuses on the big-picture elements of a manuscript. Editors assess the overall structure, plot (for fiction), argument (for non-fiction), character development, pacing, and narrative flow. They provide feedback to help authors improve the content, organization, and storytelling aspects of their book.

Line Editing: Line editing is a more detailed form of editing that focuses on sentence-level improvements. Editors address issues like sentence structure, word choice, transitions, and paragraph flow. They aim to enhance the readability and impact of the prose.

Copy Editing: Copy editing is primarily concerned with grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style. Editors correct errors, ensure consistency in language and formatting, and enforce proper grammar rules. Copy editing helps maintain a high level of professionalism in the manuscript.

Proofreading: Proofreading is the final stage of editing and involves a meticulous review of a manuscript for typographical errors, formatting inconsistencies, and minor mistakes. It's typically done after all other editing stages to ensure the manuscript is error-free before publication.

Authors may choose to use one or more of these types of editing services, depending on their needs and the stage of their manuscript. It's common for books to go through multiple rounds of editing to ensure they meet the highest standards of quality and professionalism before publication.


Finding an Editor

As a self-publisher, you’re doing everything on your own, including seeking editing services. A simple Google search can lead you to online resources for freelance editors. Make sure you investigate websites that have solid reviews and are credible sources. Many freelance editors will either have their own websites or personal profiles that market their skills, list past projects, or show reviews from authors they have worked with. Do your research!

Another smart way to look for editing services is to join self-publishing groups on Facebook, blogs, and writing forums. These groups usually have members that are editors and would be happy to link their websites. Make sure you have direct correspondence about the details of your book to see if the collaboration would be a good fit. Take advantage of the online community available to you!

At 48 Hour Books, we understand that book editing is an important step in the self-publishing process. We have reached out to freelance editors to help provide you with resources for getting started. You can contact these book editors directly by going to our book editing resources page. Keep in mind that all communication and payment will take place directly between you and the editor of your choosing!


When you’re self-publishing, hiring an editor is recommended, however, it’s always a good idea to go through your book and conduct an initial proofread yourself. It’s easy to get so engrossed in the writing process that you don’t even notice errors until you go back and revise your work. Many writers have a routine in place for revision, whether it’s writing a paragraph or full chapter then going back and proofreading, or waiting until final completion to go back and make edits. This is entirely up to you. Conducting an initial edit yourself will ultimately make it easier for your editor to get started. You will be able to locate parts of the book, specific pages, or even sentences, that you feel you need input on, apart from the routine spelling and grammar corrections.


What to Evaluate

Aside from basic spelling and grammar, here are some additional items you should evaluate. 

Wordiness: Sometimes writers will fall into the trap of using more words than necessary to make a point or to describe a character, setting, or situation. Be descriptive, but not overwhelmingly so. Crowding sentences with unnecessary words can take away from the impact of what you’re trying to say. 

Flow: Flow is complicated to define and achieve, and as a writing concept, is somewhat abstract and intuitive. To understand flow, begin by analyzing your topic sentences. Does the content that follows your topic sentence remain cohesive? Are you making logical connections throughout your writing? Is your writing clear and concise?

Repetition: Falling under the umbrella of flow is repetition. Being too repetitive in your writing is something you want to avoid. Change up your adjectives and descriptive language, so that when you go to re-introduce a character, you’re not describing them in the exact same way each time.  Repetition is boring. Being conscious of this will keep your readers interested in your ideas.

The editing process can be time-consuming and challenging, but it's essential for producing a high-quality book. Take your time, be patient with yourself, and don't rush the editing phase. Your dedication to refining your work will pay off in the end with a more polished and professional book. Is your book edited and ready for print? Place an order today! 


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Print painlessly

Sign up for the 48 Hour Books newsletter to learn how to self-publish your book — and get it printed faster with us than anywhere else.


Paula Hathaway May 08, 2022

I have written my 262 page book of fiction but have struggled with editors who are critical without giving me enough constructive criticism to inspire me to move forward. My book has been on hold now for well over a year as I try to comprehend the brief comments from those whom I have paid well for their editing. I have been told everything from a vague: "You need to take a couse in writing", and "Your memoir is written as if it is meant to read like fiction", to: "The subject matter of your book needs to reflect more of today's women's issues to be more appealing". Well, my book is not about feminism nor is it a book that I wrote to "fit" within someone elses framework, and it is NOT a memoir. I feel like my own story-telling abilities have been overlooked in order to suggest ways for my book to read like an academic project. Now, I have lost my inspiration and I can't get the juices to flow again to begin to create a whole "new" book that fits someone elses narrative. I find your ideas to be more pragmatic and I will take the above suggestions to heart and start the re-writing of my book. The 48 Hour Books newsletter will help a lot.

48 Hr Books May 09, 2022

Hi Paula! We are glad you found our tips helpful! Wishing you happy writing and hope to work with you in the future.

Lisa January 24, 2020

The editing process is so important!

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