Why You Shouldn't Edit Your Own Book

3 years ago, I wrote my first book. I also made the mistake of editing it myself before sending it to print.

When I got the box full of my freshly printed paperbacks, I was so excited and took one copy for myself. Wanting to read my own words in print, I started reading …and the number of stray errors I caught horrified me. Not only that, reading my work on a page and not my laptop screen somehow made a number of flow and plot issues become very obvious to me. It wasn’t horrible, but I cried for days. I had edited my manuscript over 4 times and felt sure that I had gotten everything. I learned an important lesson that day, and it was that authors should never edit their own work before sending it to print.

It’s difficult to spot your own mistakes, especially after repeated exposure. There’s something about looking at the same set of words over and over that tends to blind a writer to the small errors that will throw readers off course. You want your readers to have the best experience possible with your work, and to feel the urge to give you a good review when they’re done reading.

Another thing that’s hard for authors to pick up on is their voice. Your writing style, or voice, is much like your physical voice – you hear it differently in your head than other people do, so you’re not likely to recognize when it’s wordy, dull or otherwise unattractive. A third-party will be able to pick up on these issues and correct them before you publish.

Do yourself a huge favor and invest in a reasonably priced editor to check your work for accuracy, clarity and good flow. Always ask if they can edit a small sample of your work for free so that you can both decide if you’re a good fit for each other. A good editor will not object to this arrangement.

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