How To Self-Edit To Save Money

“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of
waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.”
― Patricia Fuller

Let’s face it. Editing is expensive. Unless you’re independently wealthy or have found an editor who’s willing to work with you on payments, chances are you’ll never recoup those fees from book royalties. We all know (or at least I hope we all know!) that editing before publishing our books is vital to improving the public’s perception of self-published authors, so we knuckle down, bite the bullet, and pay those editor’s fees. But there’s gotta be a way to save money, right? Some tip or trick that experienced authors know. Yep, there certainly is. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Macro edits and Micro edits.



This is big-picture stuff, the sorts of things you should look at during the very first revision of the very first draft. (Oh, by the way, how many drafts should you do before you consider your work complete and ready to publish or start querying? I like to do four: first draft, beta readers draft, professional editor’s draft, and cleanup or proofreader’s draft.) These items require rewrites–sometimes heavy ones, the bane of every author’s existence. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Attention-grabbing first sentences
  2. A beginning that starts with the inciting incident–the event or decision that kick-starts your story’s conflict
  3. A great protagonist–is she introduced quickly enough? Do you establish his point of view immediately? Does the first chapter reveal her goal and motivation?
  4. Clear stakes that are high enough
  5. Interesting and likable characters
  6. Formidable, well-balanced villain who is not a caricature
  7. Unnecessary characters who are just hanging around, cluttering things up
  8. Character development in both the villain and the hero
  9. Interesting, memorable settings and story world
  10. Infodumps–they’re bad. Remove them.
  11. Slow pacing, plot holes, and a laser-like focus on the hero’s goal
  12. Unrealistic or wooden dialogue
  13. A believable, logical story with enough tension and conflict to keep readers hooked
  14. A logical story timeline
  15. All questions and conflicts are solved by the end of the book


These are small, fiddly bits that can wait until the absolute last draft of your book. What to keep in mind:

  1. Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  2. Typos that may not be caught by a spell-checker
  3. Word choices appropriate to story tone and mood, setting and time-period
  4. Vivid descriptions that involve all five senses
  5. Crutch words (that, seem, frown, sigh, really, very, etc.)
  6. Weak and awkward sentences, or confusing and unclear sentences
  7. Cliches–avoid them like the plague. (See what I did there? 😉 )
  8. Varying sentence structure, good rhythm, and appropriately-sized paragraphs for the pacing of the scene

There you have it. Take care of these things before handing your manuscript off to a professional editor and you’ll save money AND become her favorite client in one fell swoop! And if you’re interested in learning more about my editor, her services, or what past clients have to say about the quality of her work, check out her website here: Casa Cielo Editing