It’s no secret that authors have a very hard time editing their own books. Why? When you’ve written the words, and then reworked them, re-read them, reworked some more, edited, rewritten, reworked, rinse, repeat, you just don’t see the errors anymore. It’s a very common phenomenon in the industry.
While we never recommend an author release a book without having it professionally edited, the fact is most starving artists can’t afford a professional editor. If you’re on your last dime, and don’t have the money to have your book professionally edited, here’s a method that is guaranteed to help you find more errors in your book.
1. After your book is pretty much complete, and after you’ve already run it through your word processor’s spell- and grammar-check options, read the entire manuscript on the screen in your word processing program, beginning to end, just like your readers will (don’t skip around). You WILL find errors, and things you want to change. You should also find a good writer friend to read your manuscript. Offer to do the same for them.
2. Now, format your manuscript to look like a book (contact Angela at BookLocker if you need a free MSWord template), and then, starting at the beginning, read the entire book to yourself out loud, slowly. I know it sounds silly but you WILL find more errors doing this, errors you will be surprised still remain after your previous editing activities.
3. Invest in a copy of NaturalReader. There is a free trial version you can use on their site but I like the actual program. The free trial only offers two voices and you have to use their online interface. If you buy the software, you can add more voices, and you can use the program on your own computer. (There’s no need to copy/paste your text into their website…for those of you who may we wary about privacy or security.)
NaturalReader will READ your book out loud to you with quality and surprising accuracy. (No, we aren’t affiliates of theirs. We earn nothing at all for recommending the software. We just really like it!) You can download it instantly, and start using it right away. Copy and paste one chapter at a time into the box in the program and click the Read button. It couldn’t be easier. Be sure to follow along with your eyes on your manuscript. I open one window on my laptop with NaturalReader and another for my manuscript. That way, I can quickly “stop” the program when I want to make a change or correction.
To get back to listening in NaturalReader, you can click the back arrow to start over again on a particular sentence or paragraph. You can adjust the speed with which the program reads to you (I recommend speed #2), and even purchase additional voices.
When you hear a high-quality voice reading your book back to you, it’s like hearing your book anew. You’ll not only notice regular errors you previously overlooked, like typos, but you may also pick up on inconsistencies or other problems in your story that you didn’t previously notice. (Gee, how did that character change from jeans to slacks in one paragraph?! or Hmmm, I thought she was blonde on the last page but now she’s a brunette??)
Repeat – We never recommend an author put a book on the market without having it professionally edited. But, we also know that many authors simply don’t have the money to do that. If you must publish without a good human editor, do the next best thing. Have your computer read your book out loud to you so you’ll see/hear errors you would have never noticed from just re-reading your own words over and over again on your computer screen.
4. Finally, have a copy of your book printed and, yes, read it one last time. This is easy for those who are self-publishing (but usually requires an additional fee). Ask any author. When they hold their book in their hands, and start reading it, almost all of them find more errors, and additional things they want to change.
After you’re finished editing, submit your manuscript to BookLocker.com, and work directly with me, Angela, during the entire publishing process. At BookLocker.com, we’ll get your book on the market quickly and affordably. Since we screen manuscripts for quality and salability, we are able to give each author the one-on-one attention they and their book deserve. Each BookLocker author also receives a free copy of 90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book’s Daily Marketing Plan.
Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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