DIY Tools and Services to Help You Edit Your Book

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

by Julie-Ann Harper, Managing Director and founder of Pick-a-WooWoo Publishing Group and Authors Wish
No manuscript should reach published form without first being edited by someone other than you. Many self-publishing authors are working with limited budgets, and many will choose to overlook the editing process, but they do so at their peril. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that your writing is so 'spot on' that you don’t need editing; everyone needs to be edited, and the author who believes he or she is the exception to this rule is usually the most in need. If you want your writing to be taken seriously, help ensure that by having it properly edited first.

While hiring a professional is always recommended, we understand that not every author has the funds to do so. Accordingly, over several years my company and team members have purchased, assessed, reviewed and compiled the most useful resources at Authors Wish, a one-stop shop for DIY authors to locate affordable and practical tools for their DIY self-publishing journey. Although we do not own these tools or programs, we have certainly tried and tested them all.

The Publishing Process

There are five most important aspects of the publishing process and many tools for each which are available on the Authors Wish website within these segments.

  1. Writing
  2. Editing
  3. Design
  4. Process
  5. Promotion

There will be corresponding blog posts from me on each of these main aspects, but this post touches on the tools I find best for the editing step specifically.

"You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke." - Arthur Plotnik.

Beta Readers (Proofing)

The term 'beta' is borrowed from the software industry, meaning the beta tests or reads your full manuscript to help you eliminate problems so you can improve its readability, its usefulness, and even its saleability before it's published.

Beta readers help with plot holes, clarity, pacing problems and of course mistakes. Here are the tools we recommend for finding beta readers:

  • Wattpad is a well-established website for finding beta readers.
  • Scribophile is famous for the detailed and helpful critiques their members' exchange.
  • Beta Reader's Hub is a source blog for beta readers.

Editing Tools

Editing tools work with algorithms that flag potential issues in the text and suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Some tools like Grammarly explain the reasoning behind each correction, so you can make an informed decision about whether, and how, to correct an issue.

  • Grammarly is the world’s leading automated proofreader. It checks for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations. Grammarly, in our opinion, is definitely the best online tool available.
  • Autocrit is another online manuscript editing tool, enabling fiction writers to quickly and effectively self-edit their work anytime, anywhere.
  • Editorium's Premier Program includes Editor's ToolKit, FileCleaner, QuarkConverter, NoteStripper, ListFixer, MegaReplacer, and InDesignConverter, all in one integrated program.

Proofreading and Editing Full Services

A first-class book needs a high-quality edit: nothing screams 'amateur' louder than improper punctuation or glaring spelling mistakes. A major criticism leveled at self-published literature is that the quality isn’t up to the standard set by the traditional trade. Skilled editing can radically make over a novel, moving it from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

  • Reedsy is our favorite full service as every single freelance editor on Reedsy has been hand-picked. They all have extensive experience and ample portfolios, so this ensures you are working with the best editing professionals worldwide from editing assessment, developmental editors, copy editors to proofreaders.
  • The Expert Editor is the leading online editing and proofreading company in Australia.
  • ProofreadingPal runs your work through two proofreading experts and corrects any errors concerning grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and tense.
  • Edit 911 provides experienced book editors to lovingly and skillfully edit your manuscript
  • Pressque and NY Book Editors are friends of IngramSpark who offer special discounts to IngramSpark users.

You might be wondering, can an editing tool replace a human proofreader? In short, no. For example, the words in this sample are correctly spelt individually but are incorrect in context:

ORIGINAL: Why right too no edit? Why waist counting ears of my valuable thyme brought a less than perfect manuscript to fruit.

CORRECT: Why write to not edit? Why waste countless years of your valuable time bringing a less than perfect manuscript to fruition.

When spelt correctly and in context, it’s obvious what I'm saying.

Editing tools don't always provide the context or feedback that a human proofreader offers, but they are an excellent place to learn and improve your writing and then pass to a professional proofreader. Hence, the leanest model for self-publishers ought to be:

  1. Beta readers
  2. Online editing tool
  3. Full edit service

For more information about these various editing tools and services, please feel free to visit Authors Wish.


Julie-Ann Harper

Julie-Ann Harper is the founder of the Pick-a-WooWoo Publishing Group and Authors Wish. She has 25 years of experience in publishing, business training, self-publishing workshops and presentations. Julie-Ann is a passionate advocate towards true self-publishing and helping authors to view publishing as a business. With 15 awards in the area of publishing and business she truly walks her talk and is willing to share her knowledge with as many authors as possible, particularly when it comes to self-publishing. She is the co-author of 47 educational titles, two self-published titles, author of five children’s picture books and two traditionally published titles (McGraw Hill).