There’s an advertisement I saw recently about an editing and proofreading software – a young girl gets a new job as a social media manager and is nervous. But she uses the software to catch all her mistakes and typos, and wins the day by being awesome and customer support.
As someone with a PhD in Literature, my first reaction was: “If she can’t spell, she shouldn’t have gotten the job.”
But the truth is, we all make mistakes, especially if we don’t self-edit.
I rarely self-edit my articles and emails as well as I should, and have often sent out embarrassing emails with typos in them.
So even for basic communication, a plugin or software that can help check for typos and grammar issues is a good idea. Here are the best:
But are they good enough for book editing?
I was a professional book editor for 5 years before I become a book designer, and I’ve helped publish over 1000 books, which gives me some insight in the process and importance of editing your book. First of all, I don’t necessarily think EVERY book needs professional editing.
Not every writer will be able to afford the best services, and I don’t think that disposable budget should be a factor in who’s allowed to publish.
But a manuscript full of typos and grammar mistakes will alienate readers and could lead to negative reviews (which will be there forever, even if you get the manuscript edited again later and upload a new file.
So you do want to do your best.
However, a clean and well-edited manuscript does not indicate a certain level of success. It’s often an important first step, but ultimately your book’s success will depend on the content (story or material). A very well polished, professional manuscript with excellent writing still won’t sell if readers find it hard to get into the story – and a rough manuscript with a handful of typos may still perform very well, because readers can overlook a few mistakes as long as they’re hooked by the story.
The problem with software and basic proofreading or copy editing is that it’ll just fix flow and readability at the sentence level, and it won’t fix major problems like plotting or character motivation or structure. That’s why it can be a good idea to study your craft and avoid signs of amateur writing.
This post may help: self-editing and common writing mistakes.
Personally, I self-edit as much as possible, publish early, send an ARC copy to beta readers and have them send me a list of typos. I can get away with this because:
A) I write books that sell, so I’m sure my basic story is sound.
B) I’ve built up an email list and following, so people actually want to read my books.
If you don’t have readers yet, you can join writing groups or try to get peers to trade edits.
How much does editing cost (and are you getting ripped off?)
I wrote this post a few years ago, but it’s still a decent introduction to the various types of editors and costs.
The main challenge these days is finding an editor who’s actually good – many self-publishing authors are putting on “editor” hats as a side business because their books aren’t selling. They might be amazing, but it’s hard to see clearly how much experience they actually have. You’ll see what they caught and fixed, but you won’t find out what they missed until later (I’ve often seen books that have been “professionally edited” get negative reviews about grammar or typos, and I can usually find a problem in the first few pages that other editors missed.
PS There are a bunch of new AI editing tools that are pretty amazing. I’m keeping a list of the best writing and editing apps and software.