Skip to content

Editing Your First Book

Lessons I learned while editing my book

The limited writing knowledge I have came from the linguistic course that I did at UWI. However, I learned even more writing skills while I was writing my first book, Harm Not the Oil and Wine.

The most valuable lesson that I learned was about editing.

person using laptop

Photo by Ravi Kant on

Editing your manuscript is the most difficult part of writing your first book.

You may be tempted to simply send the first draft of your book to a friend, beta reader, or professional editor and let them have the headache of trying to decipher your writing style and grammatical mistakes, but I suggest that you do not.

It is best that you do the main bulk of your editing yourself.

I was under the mistaken impression that your primary editing should be done by a professional editor.

So, after I completed my manuscript comprising of over 140,000 words, I immediately sent it to a professional Copy Editor. It cost me a great deal of money!

But when the manuscript returned to me and I read it over I realized that the manuscript was too long and I needed to drastically cut it in half.

So I printed the entire manuscript, one chapter at a time, and read it over.

The printed words help me to spot unnecessary information, which I omitted and reduced the word count to little over 70,000 words.

If I had done this before I would have saved a great deal of money because the professional editors charged by the number of words in your manuscript.

I learned about editing the hard way. But, you can learn the easy way if you follow these simple steps.

  • After writing the first draft of your manuscript, set it aside for at least a month. Let it rest while you read as many books as possible in your genre.
flat lay photography of an open book beside coffee mug

Photo by fotografierende on

  • Print your entire manuscript and read it over. You can also read it aloud and this will help you to spot grammatical mistakes and repetition in your work.

I learned these two valuable lessons from Janet’s writing blog. Janet is a professional writer who writes southern historical fiction. She also blogs about her journey as a writer and reader. Check out her blog. It is informative.

  • Down load the free Grammarly for word (you can upgrade later). It will help you to correct basic grammatical and spelling mistakes.
  • According to professional editors, when you are editing your book you need to look closely at the content and layout, the language you used, the grammar, spelling, and syntax.

I find it helpful to organize your editing. It is best to tackle the overall content of your book first by removing unnecessary information and words, and organizing your chapters.

I suggest that you write a short synopsis of each chapter. This will help you with the layout of your book.

Your final editing should focus on your grammar and spelling.

  • Read through your manuscript to identify and replace or omit overused words and adverbs.

Writing experts such as Laura Hale Brockway at said that using overused words in your writing may come across as lazy and colloquial.

Examples of overused words and their replacements.

The most common overused adverb is “very”

E.g., “The book is very big.” Simply omit “very”

Instead of using the word “just” in the sentence “I just want to fix his car,” you can replace it with “only” “merely,” “simply,” or “solely”

The word “really” can be replaced with “genuinely,” “truly,” and “absolutely.”

Replace “Amazing” with “superb,” “matchless,” “world-class,” or “transcendent.” (Readers Digest)

young troubled woman using laptop at home

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

  • After you are satisfied that you have done your best with editing your manuscript then ask a friend or beta reader to read over your work.
  • Finally, send your work to a professional editor.

I hope these simple tips will help you on your writing journey.

Thank you for reading.

Additional References

Synonyms that make you a better writer

Writers Digest

The Creative Penn



  1. Great post, Beverley! Thank you for the nice plug you gave my blog! I finally made time this afternoon to catch up on some blogs I’ve missed recently. I’m glad to get back to yours. I always learn something and receive a blessing from your blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: