Copyright: Melissa McKay

Copyright: Melissa McKay

5 Things to Look for When Self-Editing

Editors have a true passion for correcting the written word. Just as authors have a need to put pen to paper, we have a need to improve what that pen put on the paper. Our need often gets to the point where we can’t stop ourselves from seeing typos everywhere!

Here is a sign I saw recently that I couldn’t help but laugh at. Can you spot the mistakes? I wasn’t even looking for them but they just screamed my name, demanding my attention.

You’d think a business (Wal-Mart in this instance) would have had someone read their signs before paying for them to be made and posted all over their parking lot…

Of course, as a writer, you will want your work to be polished to the point of making even Mr. Clean jealous of the sparkle. That’s where your editor comes in. Here are a few tips for when you get to the editing stage of the process.


I know this can be a pain in the butt, but it’s really quite easy. Don’t pay for someone else to eliminate your double spaces, use the find function to quickly remove them all. Utilize the First Line Indent on your margins to set your paragraph indents instead of tabbing over. Both of these bring consistency to your manuscript, adding a touch of polish. It also helps when formatting for publication.

Create a character list and timeline

Remember the name of John Smith’s secretary who was mentioned 50 pages ago? Megan…Molly…Joanne…? What about that party Annie was reminiscing about, was it two years ago or three? You don’t want characters or events, however minor, to undergo unexplained changes. Your readers will notice.

Use spell check

It surprises me how many times I see ‘i’ instead of ‘I’ or ‘teh’ instead of ‘the’. This bogs us down but if you correct these yourself we can return your story that much faster.

Reasonable expectations

Want your full-length novel back in a week? You likely won’t receive a good quality edit. Think of how long you spend reading a novel for pleasure; now slow that down by a lot. Your editor is going through your story with a fine-toothed comb, so allow us the time we need. If you have deadlines to meet, contact us early so we can clear our schedule and inform you of how long we’ll need to complete your project.

It’s your story

We strive to make it the best it can be, and to make you look good too. If you disagree with any of our changes or suggestions, that’s your choice. Nothing is set in stone. Don’t feel obliged to agree with your editor. We’re teammates, voice your opinion and let’s work together. Don’t be afraid of us, I promise we don’t have fangs. We’re really quite a lovely bunch of people and we want to help you in any way possible.

About Melissa

I’m Melissa Andriana McKay, owner of Andriana Editing. I’ve always been a reader, rarely without a book nearby, but I had never considered editing until a fateful day five years ago when a friend suggested it. Suddenly I found a career to be passionate about and I’ve never looked back.

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