How to Save Some Money with a DIY Copy-Edit

Hello to all the Story Empire readers! I hope everyone is well and enjoying the Roadshow tour this week.

Today, I want to share a technique about line-editing/copy-editing that might help you save some money as well as improve your overall writing product. You can do this even if you are using a final editor as a way of checking your overall writing quality and the reader experience.

Let’s say you have a fairly complete manuscript but you want to go through it one more time before you self-publish it. Normally, you might send your new book off to a editor to find all the errors and inconsistencies that remain. The rule of thumb is that you tend to find less of your mistakes because you tend to get “snow-blind” to the errors in your work. This is a very valid point. The reason is that you need distance from the manuscript to see all the issues that remain.

Before proceeding, you may not do anything with book formatting (print or e-book), however running through this procedure may well improve your reader experience in the long-run. Finding issues with formatting can be very important to earning trust with your readers even though I’ve seen formatting issues in traditionally published books. So here are a few suggestions to get the most out of you final edit.

Whether you are using Scrivener, Word or some other software, convert the file to e-book format. You can do this several ways – submit the book in pre-release to the publishing site (KDP, Smashword, etc.) and download a version to check it over. You’ll need enough time to read through the book so plan for that if you use this option. If using Scrivener, you can compile to e-book formats. Otherwise, you can use some online formatting services to convert at least to .pdf or a full .epub (Nook, Kobo, etc.) or .mobi (KDP).

Once you have that file, load it onto your e-reader. Normally, you can load files by connecting the reader to your computer – it’s a simple file transfer (copy/paste) once the reader is connected. If you have uploaded to your publishing service, download to your reader and get started reading.

Here’s what I’ve found in doing this: the e-reader creates a natural distance that allows you to digest the book differently than just editing. You can see all the formatting issues. You can see all the typos, missing words and other changes you would like to make to details for clarification.

However, you aren’t just reading this and noticing all the problems. Your intent is to improve the final product. Now you could keep your computer handy and make the changes as you see them but I find that it’s far to distracting and apt to leave more errors. Instead, to keep things moving, I use a spread-sheet and type in a search-able phrase of where the issue is and make a short note of what needs changing. In this way, I move along with reading the book without much delay and deliberation and it retains that certain element of distance with the manuscript.

Once I’ve completed this process, I open the formatted manuscript in Word or such, save another copy to work with and start making changes. I use the phrase for searching the manuscript and the notation to make the changes. If you have formatting issues you might keep that list separate to notify your formatter if you don’t do this work yourself. Otherwise, simply roll through your list and make your changes. At this point, be careful to make note of your changes by re-reading what you changed in context of your working file – and save often too.

I’ve found that I can read the book rather quickly and then work through all the changes very quickly. Once completed and your sure of your changes, save and get this truly final version formatted and you’re done. I went through this process a few times and it actually takes me about a week to complete without much sweat. Give it a try if your so inclined and maybe it will save you some money on a final copy-edit.

I’m happy to answer questions and field comments. What tips do you have to save time and money on producing your final manuscript versions? Want further tips can you share to save on editing?

P. H. Solomon

Final note: pictures used in this post are free versions from several sources like

29 thoughts on “How to Save Some Money with a DIY Copy-Edit

  1. Pingback: ReBlog – How to Save Some Money with a DIY Copy-Edit | Story Empire | Brickley Jules Writes

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  3. I’m so with you on this, PH! Before I send a finished manuscript to my editor, I always upload it to my Kindle. As you said, it creates a different reading environment. It makes it easier to catch things I may have overlooked when working in Word. I use the highlight and note functions within my Kindle to flag those sections that need changed, then when I’ve read the whole book, I use those to make the necessary changes in Word.

    I also do the same when I get galleys back from my editor—reading them on my Kindle rather than my computer.

    Loved this post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post, P.H. Reading in a different format certainly allows one to catch errors we otherwise wouldn’t. I also like to read aloud and of late have been using Word’s reader. The voice is monotone, but it’s helped me catch some errors that I otherwise wouldn’t have with my Kindle or on screen.

    Liked by 2 people

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