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Editing Your Document

Many authors know someone with an English degree, or a teacher, or a professor. This is a great place to start. Some of you may even feel comfortable putting your name of a book with no more than this type of edit. However, I strongly encourage you to reconsider.


The first edition of my book, Prophecy of the Flame, was edited by someone with no credentials, but good at catching typos and great at grammar. I paid $800 I wound up with a typo every 3 pages. Then I had an Jr. High School English teacher and several others take a look. Readers informed me that I had typos ever 10 pages. I finally bit the bullet and paid for a professional edit - over $2500 for 350 pages. I've never had another complaint about typos.


It's your book, your name, and your right to choose. You may not be able to afford the professional price right away. Below are some options on editors - three levels. If you choose a BASIC edit, your professional price will be lower (they charge by the hour - it will take less time to edit a book that is already cleaned up).


Check your book for the following to defray some of the editing costs:


  1. Separate nonverbal actions from dialogue. You should not have a comma between an action that has nothing to do with the way something is said and the thing being said. (For example, this is wrong: "Stop tickling me," Dave laughed.) If you want to indicate an action going along with the speech, you can use a different tack. ("Stop tickling me," Dave squealed. OR "Stop... tickling... me!" Dave tried to squeeze out the words between gasps of laughter.)

  2. Ellipses should be constructed as three periods separated by nonbreaking spaces () and should be followed by a regular space unless another piece of end punctuation, such as a question mark, follows. For example, "But... I said no." OR "What the...?" If an ellipsis ends a quotation, the last period should be flush against the end quotation mark: "But..."

  3. Numbers less than one hundred should be spelled out. Large, round numbers should also be spelled out. For example, seventy-two, three hundred, five, sixty-eight, 175, 390,054, five thousand.

  4. Do not put more than one piece of end punctuation in a sentence. ("Dang it!!!" is wrong.) If you are trying to indicate that a question is being yelled, you should not use "?!" but should use just the question mark then put the yelling action in the narrative or indicate it with surrounding dialogue.

  5. Watch your use of hyphens. They're not necessary for more verbs (e.g., sleep in) or nouns (e.g., game time, sword arm) or for adjectives that follow the noun (e.g., the corridor is a dead end). They are needed for compound adjectives preceding a noun (e.g., live-action gaming, full-time housewife).

  6. I would recommend reading the text aloud. That will eliminate typos such as "I brow furrows at the cryptic lines." Natural Reader is a free program you can download - it will read the book aloud to you:

  7. If you find an odd typo that results in a real word, such as "ether" instead of "either" in this latest sample, you should do a search for that word. Make sure that it either doesn't show up again or is correct where it does.

  8. Search for the 4 most commonly overused words - words that will make your work appear amateurish:

  • Just

  • Only

  • Like

  • That

Remember, the fewer words you use, the sooner your reader gets to the rest of the story. 


9. Mark Twain said, "If you find an adverb - kill it." Unless a character is speaking, try and remove most adverbs by searching for "ly" and deleting those words. Look for more descriptive verbs instead - "hustled" instead of "ran quickly."


Editing References:


Basic Edits

Editors have a college degree and some experience in editing. The editors will go through your manuscript making comments and recommendations as they correct grammar and spelling. You will accept/reject these changes and then they will go through the book one last time to ensure you were able to correctly implement and suggestions/additions. These are not professional editors. They will not catch 100% of your typos - no editor can: expect that many typos will be missed with a BASIC EDITOR.

Michelle Telleria

Professional Edit

Editors have edited over 300 novels. Once they work on your book you shouldn't have any more questions about typos or grammar. (remember, even if they catch 99.5% of the errors, a book of 500 pages will still have 5 mistakes) Please visit their pages for rates and services and examples of their work.


  •  Angela Gaudioso - Worked full time for The New Yorker and Rolling Stone Magazine. She is known as the best in her field and is highly sought after. She will edit for content, making sure everything is clear and flows well. Angela will also catch 99% of your typos and grammar mistakes. For Angela, written work is like a symphony: She makes sure all the parts flow into a masterpiece.


$50/hr - expect $2000-$5,000 depending on the length of your book

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