Last Updated on March 31, 2023 by Gagan Dias
Some alternatives when you can’t afford an editor for your novel: Do multiple read-throughs of your novel, and do some unconventional things like reading it out loud, listening to it (if you have an app that will read it to you), and changing the font style/size/color to make it fresh for your eyes.
1) Edit yourself
It will never be perfect (it wouldn’t even with an editor) — by using various tools. There is some good writing software to assist you in copyediting and line editing (Grammarly, Autocrit, and ProWritingAid to name a few).
Also, find a good writing and craft theory to assist you. I like the way that Story Grid uses a spreadsheet to allow you to remove yourself from the work and analyze scenes. Some say reading the work out loud will help your ear to hear.
2) Find others to read
There are writer’s groups, there are friends, and there are beta readers. Have them read it and give you suggestions.
Oddly enough proofreading the work of a friend ended a decades-long friendship. I’d say paying for a service is worth every penny.
Please ignore all of the over-privileged elitist snobs who say you shouldn’t publish if you can’t afford an editor. As you’ve probably discovered, the reality is it costs thousands of dollars to have your book professionally edited.
It’s great that so many people can afford that, but many others can’t and may never be able to, and there are lots of successful indie authors who still manage to publish books that are so polished, you wouldn’t know they didn’t have a professional editor.
But, the reality of that is also that you’re going to have to work even harder to put out a polished book, and you’re going to need help. The number one thing to worry about with self-editing is typos, spelling errors, punctuation errors, grammatical errors, and formatting errors, as these are the things most likely to irritate readers.
There are some great self-editing and editing books you can have on hand to reference as you go. As others have suggested, make use of the different writing tools and programs out there if you can.
Obviously, you’d change it back to whatever it needs to be, but it helps make problems stand out better. And, of course, if you have any writer friends, friends, or family who love to read and who are good at catching errors, have them do read-throughs for you also.
It’s also super helpful if you have a critique partner or two who’s willing to read through your manuscript in exchange for reading through theirs.