When you blog a book, you publish the first draft of your manuscript in cyberspace. However, you still need to share great content. How is that possible when you aren’t sharing “finished” work with the world? You must learn to do a great job of self-editing your early posts—or versions of your manuscript—so they appear polished and professional.
That means you must self-edit each post before you publish. You also may do some revising, making the blogged book version possibly a second or third draft.
A few bloggers I know have editors or proofreaders who read their work prior to hitting the “publish” button on their WordPress sites. Most bloggers do not have that luxury or time. Eventually, when your manuscript is complete, you will want to hire a developmental and line editor as well as a proofreader. For right now, though, learning to self-edit and proof your work represents an imperative skill.
13 Lucky Self-Editing Tips
Here are 15 tips on how to self-edit your work prior to publishing it on a blog. Use the same steps to edit the final version of your manuscript before you send it to an editor—one you hire or the editor at a publishing house.
1. Walk away from the post you plan to publish for a few days.
When you get some distance from your work, you’ll find it easier when you return to see errors, redundancies, missing information, and things that simply don’t make sense. So, leave each post (or part of the manuscript you are building as you blog your book) alone for as long as possible, and then try editing it again. To accomplish this, you must write your posts well in advance of your posting deadline.
2. Speak your posts.
When you read your work aloud, it sounds different—even different than it sounded in your head as you wrote and revised. So prior to publishing a post, read it aloud looking for errors and things to improve.
3. Reread your blog post from your readers’ point of view.
Your book and blog must provide benefit to your reader and address their interests and concerns at all times. By rereading with a reader’s primary question—“What’s it in for me?”—in mind, you might find a number of ways to improve each post you produce and, in the process, your whole blogged-book manuscript.
4. Make sure all verbs are strong and active.
Use action verbs whenever possible. Also, double check that you have noun/verb agreement throughout. Simply search every sentence for the verb. Then rewrite or revise as necessary.
5. Cut unnecessary words.
Eliminate all unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. Let your nouns, verbs and dialogue, if you have used any, do the work. Try to tighten all your sentences. Look for words that do little work, such as “that,” “very,” and “just.” I’ve been known to cut the word-count of a blog post in half simply with this step, and the same methodology can be used to cut or improve a book manuscript.
6. Recheck all quotes and names.
Double-check all quotes against your interview transcriptions. Do the same for names, visiting to your sources’ websites whenever possible. If you feel uncomfortable about a quote in any way, or you think your source might not like the quote or how you used it, ask them to approve it.
7. Make sure you retain point of view.
Check that you haven’t started with first-person tense and changed to the third-person perspective along the way. Also, if you have referred to the reader as “you” and then switched to “he” or “she,” or even begun writing in the plural “we,” rewrite for consistency.
8. Check all punctuation and grammar.
Even if this is not your forte, go through the manuscript and look for punctuation and grammar errors. Get a good grammar book and use it to help you correct mistakes—or to find them. Or use Grammarly or Spellcheck (in Word) to check for you.
9. Read backward.
Reading your posts from the end to the beginning, word by word, can be hard and tedious, but you’d be surprised what you find if you read each post, or your whole manuscript, in reverse.
10. Enlist readers.
Although not technically self-editing, you can ask others to read your blog posts for you or to read them aloud to you. This strategy provides a great way to catch some additional errors. You can also read posts aloud to them.
11. Read from the hard copy.
We often end up proofreading our posts or manuscripts on the computer screen. By switching to a hard copy—the printed version, your eye see something totally different.
12. Read on the screen.
If you have been editing posts only on printed versions of your manuscript, try doing so on the computer screen. This can make a huge difference as well.
13. Read the “formatted” post.
Use the “preview” option in WordPress to see the post in its published and formatted version.When your post looks like it will on your blog, your eye will see different errors.
It’s difficult to catch every grammatical mistake or typo. Use these 13 tips to help create posts with fewer errors.