Editing on a budget for self-publishing writers

  • Editing is a key part of the writing process. No matter how tight your budget is, you can’t skip this step. Instead, you need to find an editing process that works for your budget and your book.
  • A different format can make a big difference to your editing success. Print your manuscript, or use text-to-speech software to get a different perspective on your work.
  • Make use of free tools, and those you already have. Spell checkers, find and replace functions, and friends and family are all valuable editing tools that don’t cost a lot.

Self-publishing can be very cheap. In fact, many writers choose to take the self-publishing route because of a severely limited budget.

It can also be expensive. You probably don’t want to publish a low-quality book. Let’s be honest, no one reads those. Or if someone does, they would bin it after reading a chapter or two. You don’t have to be a great writer to recognise bad writing.

A high-quality book will require, formatting, marketing, proofreaders and other services. The bills can add up to thousands of pounds.

Some things you can save money on, others you simply shouldn’t. However, if you’re on a shoestring budget, you could consider saving on editing.

Check out our guide on how much it costs to self-publish a book, which looks at other self-publishing factors you need to consider.

Not to say you don’t need an editor. Poor editing is the fastest way to give the impression the book was written by an amateur. But who is your editor will make a massive impact on your final budget.

Here are our seven money-saving ways to get your manuscript edited.

1. Listen

The first tip comes right from the pros like the best-selling author Daniel Pink. Always read your book out loud. The more you do it, the better. You will catch spelling mistakes, overused words, and fix the flow of the sentence.

Pink takes it one step further. The author has admitted that he persuaded his wife to read his books for him. Several times. So, once you have read it out loud a couple of times, ask someone else read it to you. Maybe a friend or your spouse.

We all know that eyes can be deceptive during the editing process, especially if you are working on your own writing. When someone is reading to you (even if it’s text-to-speech software), you focus better because there is no strain on your eyes.

2. Use free and paid text editing tools

In self-publishing the decision is rarely between a free and a paid tool. Rather, you have to find a balance between the cost of the tool and how much does it save you. 

By the way, we’re not affiliated with any of the following tools. But just for the argument’s sake, we are eager to know how you will answer the question above. Not now. After a couple of paragraphs. 

Remarkable technological advancements are among the key reasons why self-publishing is available today potentially for free. Tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid will check grammar, style and punctuation for you. It’s not a fool-proof way to edit, but many tools that exist have free versions you can try out.   

Depending on your self-publishing plans, editing may cost you £0, £50, £200 or upwards of £500. In any case, an online editing software is a huge money-saver. As long as it is, investing in full functionality of the software may not be a bad idea.
Plus, a tool such as ProWritingAid comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee.

So, is Grammarly worth £24? Or spending money on software generally a good idea?

Only you can answer that. But we think it is.

3. Search for common mistakes

During or after you’ve ran your book through an editing software, it’s time to look for mistakes manually. Unfortunately, you can’t yet rely on software to rid your 40,000-word book of mistakes completely. 

You can do that in a couple of steps.

First, mark down all characters or location names, especially the ones you use repeatedly in the book. Then use the find and replace feature to find and correct any inconsistencies.

Then, do the same with pronouns, adverbs, and commonly misspelled words like effect/affect, complement/compliment, than/then etc. 

The find feature comes in handy when you want to catch overused words, too. Just like ‘too’, ‘also’, ‘with’… Well, you probably know the rest of the story.

A big part of editing, including the following tips, is about the tested methods we already know. And following them. There’s really no secret source. Check our guide where we list more than a 100 different words for "said".

Consider just how simple is the next tip. Known by everyone, yet rarely followed.

4. Edit on paper

When you edit on paper, your eyes don’t get tired so quickly. Needless to say, this is useful on many levels. For instance, with a manuscript in your hands you have the ability to leave your usual place of work. And you can make notes with a pen or pencil.

The print out version of your book allows you to embrace chaos. Once everything is on paper, you have no reason to edit from the first chapter to the last. Mix the pages and instead of following the story, focus on editing random pages.

All of this equates to a more refreshed editing process and better focus on the flow of the sentences.

Once that is done, all that is left is to summon the help of others.

5. Delegate

Editing a book all by yourself takes a lot of time. And it’s not that fun. Look around you (not literally). Is there anyone in your family, among your friends and peers who could give you constructive feedback?

Obviously, don’t open with “Would you edit my book, please?”. But if you can give two chapters to each of your friends, that’s a nice start, isn’t it?

What about other professionals? A quick search online will offer countless Facebook groups and communities of other writers just like you.

The key here is to offer help first. Bring value to the group and there won’t be any trouble finding help yourself.

Will you require services of a professional editor after all this process? While it wouldn’t hurt, following the steps outlined above should already result in a well-edited and mistake-free manuscript.

Another way, more untraditional way to save money is to reduce spending in other areas of your life. If our car is expensive and want to reduce how much you spend on car ownership, you can consider a car subscription instead.

And if you ever need any help, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Advice from a published writer
This article is always evolving and being updated regularly by our expert writers. Information featured in it has been fact-checked and verified.
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