Tips for Self-Editing Your Fiction Novel

Self-editing your novel is difficult and time-consuming, but these tips will surely help you navigate the self-editing phase (before sending your book to a professional editor).

Let Your Manuscript Rest

Letting your manuscript rest is the best way to jump start the next phase of the writing journey: the editing process. It will allow you the much-needed distance from your writing you’ll require to truly tear your work apart in hopes to put it back together in a meaningful way.

Although it can be a bit scary, letting your manuscript rest is the best first step to a better book.

Learn to Protect Your Writing Time

Time is an important factor when it comes to writing a book. Everything about the self-editing process takes time, which is why writers must protect what precious time they have set aside so vehemently.

There will always be things that stand in the way between you and writing your book. Your job, as the writer, is to look those distractions in the face and say, “Not today.”

Create a Book Editing Toolkit

There’s more to book editing than your developmental editor and proofreader. There are a plethora of tools out there that can help you along your self-editing journey:

The ones above are a few suggestions, but make sure to do your research and find the one that best suits your needs and skill sets.

Decrease Your Word Count

Although some underwriters may disagree, decreasing your word count is mandatory if you’ve overwritten your story. That is, if you’ve overwritten for your genre or for the story you’ve laid out for your characters.

On the flip side of an over writer are underwriters, who haven’t hit the industry standard word count goals for that age category and book genre. Remember, while these standards are guidelines, they do feed into reader expectations, so you should consider them at the least.

Get a First Chapter Critique

There’s no way around it. First chapter critiques can be scary, especially if it’s your first foray into getting outside input on your work. If they’re good, the editor will come back with a huge list of suggestions…and those lists are often daunting.

The important thing to remember is that there’s always something to learn…from every experience. Getting critiques of your work is a great way to learn from past mistakes and, hopefully, fix those mistakes in the future.

Plus, not every suggestion is something you’re required to change. You’re still the writer. No suggestion is law. It’s simply that, a suggestion from someone well-versed in the book editing industry.

The first few books are always the hardest to self-edit, so I hope these tips will help you jump start your self-editing journey. So when you’re dabbling in editing, don’t forget to put ego aside and focus on the words (and the story) in front of you!