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Tips for Self Editing Your Cookbook

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Whether or not you end up using friends or an outside service to help you edit, you should still spend time editing your own work. The more complete the manuscript you give to friends the happier they will be and the less money you will have to spend on an outside service. Depending on your preferences, you can either print out your book and work from the hard copy or do it directly in your word processor. Some people also recommend going through your final copy on your ipad or tablet, this gives you a different view of the content and forces your brain to re-think how some of it goes together.

Finding Sentence Structure Errors

A great way to find errors in sentence structure is by reading the text out loud. When you do this, most awkward sentences will jump out to you. You can then rework them until they sound right.

It can also be a good idea to take a week or so off before editing for sentence structure. Because you are so immersed in your book you will often know what you are trying to say even if the words don't actually say that. Taking a little time off will help you forget what you meant to say and you'll see what you actually wrote.

Search for the Word "That"

Often the word "that" and some of the words around it can be eliminated by carefully rewording the sentence.

Minimize Your Copy

A good rule of thumb is to try to use the fewest words possible to convey the same amount of information. Cutting out extraneous words, extra sentences, and other pieces of text that don't help convey your message will help tighten up your writing, making it easier on the reader. Some sentences can be made more direct, getting to the point more quickly.

This does not mean you want to change the tone of your writing, or the amount of information presented. It just ensures you are doing it the most effective way possible.

Vivid Copy

There are many words that do not convey much information and it's best to not use these. Some of these words are "nice", "good", and "ok". They do not add any information and can easily be replaced by more impactful words.

Picture Yourself as Your Reader

When you are proofing your book it is very helpful to picture yourself as your avatars. Keeping their mental states and existing knowledge in mind, as well as what they hope to learn from your book, is a great way to pick up on areas that might need more clarification.

Finding Grammar and Spelling Errors

While it sounds like a no-brainer, the first place to start is by running the spell check and grammar check in your word processor. This will catch many low-level issues you need to fix. You can also use external grammar checkers like Grammarly.

Many people recommend reading your text backwards to find spelling and grammar errors. Our brains have the tendency to auto-complete sentences and smooth over bumps in the text while reading. Going backwards removes this process, allowing errors to show more clearly. Some people recommend reading each word backwards one at a time, others do a paragraph at once. Experiment and see what works best for you.

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