Comprehensive Guide for Revision and Editing Processes for Self-Published Authors. Tips for Editing and Revising Manuscript Drafts – The Urban Writers







Self-Editing Tips for Indie Authors: Polishing Your Manuscript

by The Urban Writers

If you are like me, then you understand the woes of being a perfectionist and how it often causes you to constantly mull over every detail, forever finding faults even when you are unable to pinpoint what they are. Your intuition causes you to have an uneasy feeling that must be satisfied, or progress will indefinitely be halted.

Publishing for authors can be difficult; even with the resources and expertise of an established publisher, this journey becomes even more uncertain when editing for self-published authors. Each stage of the manuscript improvement process will present its challenges and be equally important, but for this article, we will be addressing the challenge of editing for self-published authors.

By following the directions in this article, you will be guided through self-editing techniques that make the journey less tumultuous and uncertain, ensuring the best possible outcome for your self-published manuscript.

Manuscript Publishing Tips

Before a manuscript can be ready for general public consumption, it must undergo stages of preparation that involve rounds of revisions and editing after creating an initial draft.

Throughout the process of creating a manuscript, authors must make several decisions, from conception to publication. These decisions will arise at various stages of the project and have the potential to either streamline or be a hindrance to the progress, as well as enhance or diminish its quality.

As the author and publisher of the manuscript, the onus is on you to assess the best possible direction that will provide the outcome that correlates to the vision you have for your manuscript. Each case is unique, not only based on the type of manuscript being created, but also taking into account your time constraints, drive, and the resources available.

Going the self-published route or soliciting a publishing deal are the primary choices that you will face on the road to publishing your manuscript. Finalizing this decision before completing the initial draft is crucial for setting a definitive course forward. This decision will have major implications for how you move forward with the revisions and the editing process.

Revision vs Editing

The goal while engaged in the writing phase of creating a manuscript is to get a substantial amount of comprehensible content written; this will comprise the initial draft. After authoring the first draft, you can refine the rough edges of your manuscript through revision and editing.

During the editing stage, the author finalizes their vision for the manuscript after creating a draft. This stage is multifaceted and may have multiple rounds of revisions and editing that address grammar and the use of tenses, ensuring the storyline is cohesive, the plot is coherent, and each character remains constant.

Although both processes share similarities and are often confused, they have distinct definitions and attributes. Editing fixes errors without altering the manuscript, while the revision process changes the meaning and enhances the manuscript, for example:

  • Editing addresses grammar and sentence structure errors that likely occurred during manuscript writing, essentially proofreading. Throughout the writing process, several rounds of drafts will be created, and each one will require editing to fix errors. Editing is mandatory to meet industry standards before a manuscript can be approved for publishing.
  • Revision: These modifications to the manuscript aim to enhance it by incorporating new ideas, improving clarity, refining word selection, adding detail, and eliminating unnecessary components. The author is best suited to handle the revision process and ensure that the changes align with the intended vision, as they will alter the direction of the manuscript.

Self-Editing vs Professional Editor

Either prospect can make a significant contribution and provide a unique perspective that the other may not be capable of due to limitations caused by either a lack of experience or an inability to deliver a natural tone.

A professional editor, having edited countless manuscripts over an extensive period, would have formulated a methodology that is efficient and covers all the required bases. The downside is that the process then runs the risk of becoming mechanical, losing its imaginative edge, and starting to become more akin to a conveyor belt.

A professional editor is more likely to have the expertise required to ensure the inclusion of all essential aspects in the final edit and can also provide a stable timeframe. The author would have more of a connection with character traits and the narrative, which is more likely to result in a smooth transition from writing to editing.

However, after writing the manuscript, the author may have developed a one-sided or narrow perspective that inhibits them from having a different perspective. Spending a protracted amount of time diligently working on the same project tends to cause exhaustion and impede creativity. That's why having a fresh insight may identify obvious areas to implement corrections.


Self-Editing Techniques

You may ultimately choose to consult a professional editor to finalize your manuscript. The editors at Dibbly | The Urban Writers possess the expertise to edit any form of content, offering the advantage of having an expert who can identify overlooked aspects of your draft and suggest improvements.

Nonetheless, to achieve the best possible outcome, you—the author—will need to complete at least an initial set of edits. This identifies the basic errors and offers you an opportunity to convey your message as clearly as possible. There are layers of editing necessary to complete preliminary and final edits to any type of manuscript. Let us explore these editing layers further.

Firstly, let's look into the three main components that should be considered when editing and revising. Firstly, we explore writing revision strategies that involve addressing structure and legibility. After adequately addressing these components, the author or editor can then focus on grammar and diction.


  • Structure: The importance of having your manuscript bear an infallible structure cannot be disputed or understated. Before the first sentence is embarked upon, there needs to be an outline that lays out in detail a chapter-by-chapter guide from commencement to completion.

An outline should function as the blueprint for your manuscript; each chapter must be meticulously prepared, with the attention to detail remains paramount, thus ensuring that the author delivers a consistent flow of information while remaining on a path that doesn't deviate from the topic that the manuscript is meant to convey.

  • Legibility: Your book should include as much information—that is pertinent to the topic—as possible. This is to ensure that the reader is sufficiently apprised and given an adequate chance of getting a clear grasp of the topic. In trying to include as much information as you believe is relevant, you run the risk of including unnecessary details. During the revision stage of the draft, there will likely be a need to remove information that is not germane to the manuscript.
  • Grammar and diction: Once the revisions are complete, you may move on to the editing aspect; this is essentially the tidying-up phase. It's best to leave it for last, as the prior two steps would have seen some changes to the meaning and direction that would have likely resulted in a rewrite and overhaul of entire segments. In contrast, the editing process is unlikely to result in changes in direction; rather, the focus will be on correcting errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.

In addition to the three main components that must be tackled during revision and editing, you should also be aware of and versed in the different editing styles, primarily copy editing and developmental editing. The different editing styles will impact the level of scrutiny that the editor applies. Each editing style has parameters that serve as an outline for the requirements and limitations the editor must abide by.

Self-Editing Checklist

In conjunction with the main components and editing styles, there are additional measures that are utilized during the manuscript improvement process; they serve as auxiliary methods and, when applied, cover all the miscellaneous elements that combine to ensure that not only are the most minute issues identified and rectified but that the author's strengths and weaknesses are identified and capitalized to be of service to the final product.


Patterns are formed, much like habits, through the continued repetition of an action, which can be negative or positive. It is best to identify the practices that will bring a positive return and implement them. These measures are particularly beneficial as a means of adapting the best practices when editing for self-published authors.

  1. Allow yourself to rest by taking a break, ideally at the end of writing the first draft; this will act like a sort of palette cleanser that will help with having a fresh insight once you resume working on your manuscript.
  2. Remain mindful of what your manuscript is about; while you may digress by exploring supporting arguments, you mustn't veer too far off-topic. While remaining on track regarding the narrative, you should also be focused on developing the storyline towards the eventual climax.
  3. Don't be afraid to fill the pages with vague, inconclusive details; the goal is to create the first draft and allow revisions and edits to do their part in creating depth and the details needed to give the plot, characters, and narrative meaning. This is an excellent way to prevent you from falling into the dreaded procrastination trap.
  4. Every sentence, paragraph, and chapter should advance the story being told; a failure to add value makes that material redundant, and therefore it should be removed. This may prove difficult because, as authors, we tend to become attached to our creations, but you should never be afraid to utilize the delete button.

In Closing

The knowledge needed to develop your self-editing skills can be attained through diligence and open-mindedness. It would help if you were also open to accepting limitations and going the route that was not initially planned, including soliciting the services of a professional editor from the many quality editors at Dibbly | The Urban Writers.


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