Step 2: How to Copyedit Your Book Yourself

Save money by copyediting your own work using these handy tips.

Copyediting must be performed on your manuscript. However, professional copyediting services are way too expensive for the average indie author. As a result, I recommend copyediting your manuscript yourself. This is what I've done with this book and what I currently do with everything I write. To ensure the quality of my work, I employ the following copyediting process.

Use Microsoft Word's Built-in Error Checking

Microsoft Word provides built-in error checking to identify word misspellings and common grammar errors. As you type, Word will underscore misspelled words with a read line and grammar errors with either a blue or green underscore. Check out these error indicators as they're presented, paying particular attention to the red underscores.

An additional feature of Microsoft Word is the ability to display synonyms for any word in your manuscript. Simply right-click on a word and select Synonyms from the pop-up menu to display words that mean the same thing as the selected word. Use this feature to replace word repetitions and spice up your vocabulary.

Copyedit Your Manuscript Backward

One of the problems the people run into during copyediting is getting involved in the story while reading instead of looking for copyediting errors. To avoid this trap, I recommend that you copyedit your manuscript backward from the end to the beginning. Simply back up and edit one or two paragraphs at a time. In this way, you'll avoid getting drawn into your story and remain focused on your objective: removing spelling, word usage and grammar errors.

Read Your Manuscript Out Loud During Copyediting

Another technique for finding even more errors is to read your manuscript out loud while copyediting. The translation of your words into speech allows you to hear the word usage and phrasing errors in your work.

Use Grammarly to Check for Common Spelling and Grammar Errors

Although my preferred document editor, Microsoft Word, provides spelling and grammar checking, I find its grammar checking, in particular, to be limited. As a result, I run a Microsoft Word plugin named Grammarly to find additional grammar errors.

Grammarly comes in a free version and an enhanced paid version. I found no great benefit to running the paid version. So, I recommend that you acquire the free version of Grammarly and either use it standalone to check your manuscript or use it as a Microsoft Word plugin.

Note that Grammarly also checks for word repetition, another reader annoyance that should be addressed during copyediting.

Get your copy of Grammarly at

Draft Friends, Family and Peers to Review Your Manuscript

I typically find that the above steps are sufficient to catch the majority of the errors in my manuscripts. However, there will always be errors left behind. One way to catch these missed errors is to draft as many eyes (people) as you can to read your manuscript. Others will undoubtedly find things you missed.

I recommend that as a final editing step, you draft friends, family and fellow writers (perhaps from a writing group) to review your manuscript. It's up to you as to what you do with the inevitable content editing comments.