5 Easy Book Edit Fixes

April 22nd, 2015

A while back, I wrote a post called 10 Tips to Save You Money on a Book Editor that outlined some high-level things you can do to clean up your manuscript yourself before investing in an editor. In my experience, indie authors don’t have huge budgets, and without the editing muscle of a publishing house behind you, it can be hard to come up with the funds to pay for round after round of editing (which, unfortunately, is the norm).

In this post, I want to take it a little further and mention the top five easy fixes I’ve seen again and again in manuscripts by indie authors. With a quick scan of your manuscript—and some nimble-fingered find-and-replace action—you can save your editor time and yourself money.


Make sure all your periods and commas are inside your quotation marks. No exceptions.

Incorrect: She often accused him of being “a little fussbudget”.
Correct: She often accused him of being “a little fussbudget.”

Unless you are writing for a British audience or talking in computer code, there are no exceptions to this rule. None. Nada. Zip. (“But what about…?) Nope. Let’s move on.


Learn the difference between “lose” and “loose.” I mention this because it is the most common word mistake I see, hands down.

Lose: When your keys are in the fridge.
Loose: How your jeans fit after a bad breakup.


Only one space between sentences. Find and replace. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe the Cult of Pedagogy or Slate. This was actually a tip from my other post, but it’s such an easy fix—and so crucial—that I thought I’d mention it again here.


Google names and quotes. It is tragically easy to misspell names and misquote famous people in a manuscript. Go through and Google every instance to make sure you got it right. And pay attention to the source you’re fact-checking with. Wikipedia, for instance, is not always the most reliable source. 


Do a search for use of the word literally and, unless you are really super sure you’re using it right and it’s totally necessary to the sentence, delete every instance. And while you’re at it, delete that word totally. And the words like and really and basically. Ninety-nine percent of the time, your sentence will make just as much sense and be way more powerful without such overused filler words. 

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