Self publishing and the editing dilemma by Jill Paterson

Author Jill Paterson
Author Jill Paterson

Please welcome guest blogger Jill Paterson. I met Jill years ago on Twitter when we both participated in a blog tour to get as many free ebooks to our service men and women as possible. Jill was one of the authors giving away free ebooks, I was one of the reviewing bloggers (and reviewed her book), and together we said “thank you” to our troops.

We stayed in touch and over the years have exchanged many emails and tweets. When I told Jill that I wanted to write a story, she was the first to encourage me. Thanks to Jill (and Cynthia Harrison who just became a grandma) I finally started writing.

Writing is one thing. Correcting what you wrote a few days later is difficult. Getting your work ready for self publication can be a daunting task hence this guest blog post.

Should you have any questions leave them in the comment box and I will alert Jill.


As writers, we all do a certain amount of editing while we write our first and subsequent drafts, however, to polish a manuscript so that it is ready for publication takes a lot more work and expertise.  In the traditional publishing world, this is taken care of by the publisher’s many types of editors such as copy editors, manuscript editors and proof readers.  In the self publishing world, however, it is a different situation.  There are no professionals waiting for you at the end of your writing process.  There is only you with a decision to make.  Are you going to do your own editing or use a professional?

When you think about it, there is a lot to consider.

  • The expense of employing a professional editor.
  • Will that editor advise you to make changes to your manuscript that you don’t necessarily agree with?
  • How will you react to criticism of your work? After all, there will be criticism of some kind.  It could create doubt in your mind about your story.
  • How will you communicate with your editor? By snail mail, email or in person.

There is also the matter of expertise.

  • Are you confident you have the necessary proficiency to edit your work?

Consider what a professional copy editor/manuscript editor does.

  • Corrects grammar, punctuation, spelling, word choice.
  • Focuses on the story elements of plot, structure, theme, conflict, characterization, setting.
  • Syntax
  • Pace
  • Plausibility
  • Consistency
  • Dialogue
  • Point of view
  • Order of scenes
  • Scene revision
  • Information dumping
  • Missing information
  • Words/phrases that you use too often
  • Reads your manuscript not only with a fresh eye but with the audience in mind

It’s a long list and a daunting task.  Nevertheless, there are those among us who take it on.  If you do choose this path here are a few suggestions that might assist you.

  • Put your manuscript aside for a while before you start.
  • Print your manuscript out or if you prefer to read it on your computer screen, increase the font size for better visibility.
  • Read your manuscript aloud.
  • Have a friend read your manuscript.


Jill Paterson was born in Yorkshire, UK, and grew up in Adelaide, South Australia before spending 11 years in Ontario, Canada. On returning to Australia, she settled in Canberra.

After doing an arts degree at the Australian National University, she worked at the Australian National University’s School of Law before spending the next 10 years with the Business Council of Australia and the University of NSW, ADFA Campus, in the School of Electrical Engineering.

Jill is the author of three published books, The Celtic Dagger, Murder At The Rocks, and Once Upon A Lie which are all part of the Fitzjohn Mystery Series.  She has also authored two non-fiction books entitled Self Publishing-Pocket Guide and Writing-Painting A Picture With Words.

You can find Jill online here:

My Blog





3 thoughts on “Self publishing and the editing dilemma by Jill Paterson

  1. A helpful post.
    Having already indie published four novels, I am still always looking to improve on all fronts, including editing, as I still can’t afford a professional editor and although I like to think I can take criticism, I probably would find it hard to make any sweeping changes they might suggest. I have done that on an editor’s suggestion before, but I found it difficult and discouraging, plus I honestly didn’t feel it improved the book…so much so that I’ve never published it.
    Thank you for the suggestions and encouragement.


    1. Christine,

      I wish you would reconsider publishing that book. Maybe serialized on your blog? I sense you like the book but that the editing experience caused you to doubt your feelings. Maybe I am wrong.



    2. Hi Christine,

      I agree with Alice. I think you should publish your book. In my experience, my editor tells me the strengths and weaknesses of my stories. As far as the weaknesses are concerned, I take on board what I agree with and make those changes. I don’t follow the suggestions I don’t agree with. I think if an editor does the job properly you receive a balanced critique where you are told about the strong features of the story as well as the problem areas. It’s never easy to be criticised but if it is done constructively, I’ve found I’ve learnt from it. I also think that being told about the strong features always helps to keep you from being too discouraged.

      Publish that book, Christine!

      Every Best Wish,


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