Self editing your book – a quick guide

Many of us dream of writing a successful novel or maybe just having an idea for a story published for our own benefit. Traditionally, this would seem a daunting, and unlikely achievement – for commercial book printing you would need the work to be of a specific quality and obtain an agent and a publisher for yourself – a difficult and expensive process!

Nowadays it is a much more feasible and attainable ambition – with the advent of online book printing it is much easier to self-publish any work. Before you reached the stage of printing your masterpiece though, you would need to have it edited – again a process that would have been onerous in the past. Now, however, with help and guidance available from an online book printing company, you can self-edit your book – here are some useful tips and considerations to help you with your editing:   

  • Learn to accept rejection – and take professional advice. Editors may not always tell writers what they want to hear, but the writers need to listen – even if you are your own editor!
  • There is a literary term, “throat clearing” – this refers to a chapter or phase in the book that begins with an over expansive “scene setting” and background. Avoid it – get on with the story!
  • Keep it simple and omit needless words – it is easy to get carried away with showing off your vast range of vocabulary and grammar. Think of your reader rather than your own vanity – the reader wants to know about the character or plot – not how erudite you are!
  • Where possible avoid redundant words – phrases such as “He blinked his eyes” – what else could he be blinking? “His eyes” is a redundant addition – as is this explanation!
  • Respect your reader – there is no need to repeat something you have already established – over-emphasis will assume that the reader has not understood the first time!
  • Avoid telling readers what is NOT happening – for example, “She didn’t respond” – if you are not telling the reader that she did actively respond, then the natural assumption is that she did not.
  • Use mainly nouns and verbs – try to use adjectives sparingly and for emphasis.
  • Do not use the word ‘literally’ unless it is an actual occurrence – “I literally died when I was told” – the character did not LITERALLY die did they? The reference is figurative, not literal!
  • Avoid using too much stage direction – not every action of every character needs to be described.
  • One of the most common errors made by novice writers is failing to maintain a single point of view for each scene. Many may point out that this aspect was not adhered to by famous authors in the past, but modern writers should try to stick to this principle. It is more in keeping with a modern writing style and is what modern readers expect and feel comfortable with.
  • Avoid cliches wherever possible – This applies, not only to cliched situations (future lovers unknowingly passing each other daily for months before actually meeting etc.), but also individual words and phrases.
  • Try to resist the urge to ‘over explain’ situations or emotions – for example, “you are really irritating me!” she said tetchily! Show, don’t tell – if someone is being irritated, the use of the word ‘tetchily’ is unnecessary.
  • Try to avoid too many references to mannerisms of attribution – for example, a character may be feeling exhausted – they would SAY “I’m really tired” – not ‘wheeze’ or ‘gasp’ that they were tired! Rather than factually inform your reader as to whether your character is shouting or whispering, imply that with your choice of words – separate the action from the dialogue.  
  • Use detail – specific descriptions add to the reality of the character or the situation and give them a ring of truth – even in a fictional work this hint of truth lends weight and clarity.
  • Try to keep your characters instantly recognisable and separate – avoid using similar character names and even avoid using the same first initials – unless, of course, this confusion is to be part of a deliberate plot within the storyline.
  • Try to avoid over-emphasis in punctuation and typestyles – for example, “John is DEAD!!” – simply write “John is dead” – the heavily emphasised “DEAD!!” does not make John any more lifeless than the straightforward statement.

If you want help or more information in getting a work published, then speak to your online book printing provider – they have the appropriate staff and expertise to help you with your commercial book printing project.


We are an all round UK book manufacturing and printing service. We work closely with publishers, self publishers and authors. We have a state of the art factory, complemented by our sales and marketing office in Westoning, Bedfordshire. We have invested in the very latest digital and litho printing technology, to integrate with a fully equipped craftsman bindery.  The conclusion of which means we are offering both softback and hardback books, to a very high standard of quality.

Order your book printing online or contact our team for more information.