Self-Editing in 9 Easy Steps

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

I write EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if it’s texting, I consider that a form of writing. Most of the time, however, I write at least an e-mail and blog post each day. Culturally, many of us have become lazy in regards to self-editing/proofreading what we write. In a world where our version of shorthand is “TTYL” or “U” for “You,” abbreviations are the gateway to lazy writing and lazy editing.

Let’s change that.

Since the age of 12, I’ve taken self-editing very seriously. I’m nowhere near perfect, but my “editing detective eyes” have become better and better as time has progressed. Taking your own communications seriously will prompt others to take you seriously, too. Trust me on this one.

I’ve created some resources to help you out with self-editing. These resources don’t replace another set of eyes (or a professional editor), but they will help immensely, especially if you’re helter skelter when it comes to your own writing.


This checklist is simple and straightforward:

1. Check spelling—don’t rely on spell check for everything, either!

2. Check grammar—ditto to the above ^

3. Proofread your article, e-mail, blog, etc. at least 3xs—don’t be lazy!

4. Review the context/meaning of your wording
-Did you use the right words? (See the common grammar mistakes info graphic below)
-Do you have misplaced/dangling modifiers?
-Is your message clear and concise?
-Did you cut/edit unnecessary wording?

5. Check your dates & times (if applicable)

6. Check your sources (if applicable)

7. Check your links (if applicable) NO ONE appreciates a broken/incorrect link

8. If you are sending an e-mail, double check your recipient list (and if it’s not an inter-office communication, best practice is to BCC recipients to protect privacy)

9. If working in a Word/Pages document, save often

You can find my checklist on Evernote (I’ve shared it publicly) by clicking HERE. Feel free to copy it to your own Evernote notebook so you can actually use the check boxes that are not shown in this post.

I’ve also made an infographic (my first!) about common grammar mistakes. Check it out by clicking HERE.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 1.45.10 PM

There are, of course, so many more elements to editing, but this is a great start. The resources here can definitely get you through your next e-mail or blog post. However, if you find yourself in need of a professional editor, well…you know where to find me. Happy editing!

5 Reasons Why You Should Hire A Professional Editor

So you got straight A’s in English class in high school, and passed English 1A in college. Now, you’ve written something—maybe a novel, an article, or even copy for a website. You think you’re pretty good at writing, so you’re probably a pretty good editor too, right? WRONG.

Contrary to popular belief, it is essential to hire a professional editor for many reasons, especially if you plan on making your work public. And no, your wife, your smart kid, and your best friend don’t make the cut as professional editors (unless, of course, they have the proper training). Also, Microsoft Word is not the final authority for the written word; though, using spell and grammar check does help a ton.

I’ve had my business for a few years now, but I’ve been editing for many, many years. And the more I work with my clients, the more I see the same mistakes over and over again. If I had a dollar for every time a client told me, “Well, I had so-and-so look over my manuscript, and they’ve been editing for a while, and they think my work is pretty good,” I’d be a very rich lady.

Even I have a professional editor who looks over my big stuff. It’s very important to present the best of yourself, and if you feel otherwise, you have no business writing content to share with the masses, much less put it up for sale.

To further support my argument, I’ve broken it down into 5 reasons why hiring a professional editor will do you a world of good, and prevent severe pain down the road.

Why should I hire a professional editor?

1. Because your work reflects you—and don’t you want to look good?

Look: image is everything. It’s cliché and it sucks, but that’s what makes the world go round. If you have something to say, say it with grace, dignity, and authority—and make sure it’s well edited. Looking the part goes a long way and lends credibility to your image.


2. Because it saves you time to devote to writing and building your brand.

Many of us already feel pressed for time. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to solely focus on your writing and your brand? With a professional editor in your arsenal, you can do just that.


3. Because you probably haven’t been properly trained.

Like I mentioned before, Microsoft Word and other word processing programs are not a catchall—nor are your friends or family. And chances are that you have not been trained as an editor, either. When I needed knee surgery, I didn’t attempt to do it myself; I went to an orthopedic surgeon. And though that’s an extreme example, it’s a good visual to continue the argument.


4. Because there are always mistakes.

Here’s further perspective for you: I have edited many manuscripts after they have been on the market. Sadly, my clients paid for “professional” services that were a load of crap. I could not believe how many errors I found!

In one novel, I made 1,750 changes in total! In another, I made 2,631! And those weren’t even the worst. This, folks, is just one of the many reasons to hire a professional who has actually been trained and has also been editing for a number of years.


5. Because even editors need an editor!

Hey, just because I’m a professional editor doesn’t mean that my stuff comes out perfect every time. I have my own professional editor, who is worth every penny. It’s important for me to have an outside/objective opinion when it comes to my writing. It not only helps to catch all the mistakes I make, but also improves my writing and gives me confidence to continue to pursue my literary endeavors.


Here are two grammar quizzes you can take, just for fun. You may be able to get a better sense of your grammar knowledge:

Now, after all that, you may be asking: Tamar, how can I find a good editor? I’m glad you asked!

A good editor has a good track record. A good editor is not someone who edits just to make extra money; he or she is passionate about what he or she does, and has been in the industry for a while. A good editor may offer to give you a sample edit, or may post some examples of his or her prior work on his or her website. A good editor is typically easy to find on the Internet and has a professional website. And, he or she has a substantial portfolio that is constantly updated. Also, good editors are not very cheap! A good editor is worth his or her weight in gold, and will charge a reasonable rate for his or her time.

If you’re at a loss for where to even start looking, you can always hire me 😉 Yes, shameless plug, but hey—you’re here already, right? I’d love to work with you on your project, contact me for a quote.