The Best Way to Self-Edit / Proofread Your Novel

Merriam-Webster's Concise Handbook for Writers

Okay, Indie authors. Don’t take this title to mean that you should solely self-edit / proofread your novel. Not only should you proofread a number of times, but you should also hire a professional. Proofreading beforehand gives you knowledge on what to look for so that writing future novels is easier and so that you aren’t overwhelmed with mistakes found by the professional editor.

Review a Book on Grammar and Punctuation
The first step with self-editing is to review a grammar and punctuation handbook such as the “Mirriam-Webster’s Concise Handbook for Writers“. It covers a lot of information from punctuation, capitalization, italics, compounds, abbreviations, numbers, quotations, etc. This book also has an informative section on copyediting and proofreading. Since all of the topics won’t apply to your novel, you can skim though much of it. Take notes and make sure you applied the proper rules in your novel.

Use the Find Tool on Word
Once you have found something where you know you might have made mistakes, use your find tool on Word or Works. For example, maybe I think I used the word week instead of weak in my novel. So I can search both terms to make sure they were each used properly. I can do this for to, two, and too; there and their; and so on. Another example, I think I capitalized the word king or lord ever time. However, it should not always be capitalized. So I refreshed myself on the rules, used the find tool to find every single instance (there were a lot), and made corrections where needed.

Read Through Your Novel
You should read through every page of your own novel at least twice before giving it to someone else to proofread. Read it and try to look specifically for punctuation, grammar, and capitalization issues. More information on our preveious post, “What to Look for when Editing Your Book“. If you find an error which you think you may have made elsewhere, use the find tool if you can. But be sure to go back where you left off and start reading again. And be sure to keep your grammar and punctuation book handy so you can verify anything questionable.

Have Others Read Your Book
As stated in the above mentioned post, have others read your novel.

Proofreading is not easy. It is tedious and time consuming. If you have managed the hurdle of researching and writing your novel, you might find yourself procrastinating on the editing. But editing is a must, especially for Indie authors. Readers hate reading something with a bunch of errors and they might give a bad review because of them. So please self-edit / proofread your own novel. And please be sure to have it professionally edited too.

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