Many people who self-publish leave the editing until the end. This is a big mistake. As a writer, you should edit before formatting.

The Internet has given writers a lot of gifts, but perhaps the biggest is the ability to publish. Anyone who wants to write a book can do it. However, writers frequently overlook basic editing. Most Internet publishing companies don’t offer that service. And many writers, maybe so anxious to see their work in book form, don’t give a lot of thought to basic editing until after their book has been set up in a PDF format.
That’s when many turn to editing services, such as, to have their book professionally edited.
What a lot of first-time writers don’t recognize is that the time for basic editing of their book is before it’s a PDF.
PDF is a publishing format — editors can’t make final proofreads and needed changes on a PDF.

But for the work a copy editor must do — even of relatively clean copy — the best format for editing is a Microsoft Word file. Copy editors use Microsoft Word’s Track Changes function to edit and mark up a copy, giving a writer a lot of options regarding accepting and rejecting changes, as well as rewriting and restructuring parts of their manuscript.
A PDF file is much stiffer, much less flexible. A copy editor can mark it up and suggest changes, but many times can’t physically change the copy at all.
Some writers don’t realize until they have a copy editor get in there to do some basic editing that every manuscript can use an edit. And a PDF is the wrong format for the work.

The Time to Edit is Before it’s a Book

Traditional publishers edit with MS Word, or Word-style software, before formatting the book. When their proofreaders take over to make final fixes, the book is often printed out in paper form, marked up by hand, then a production editor makes a final foray into the manuscript to make these changes.
But the real nuts and bolts copy editing is done way before the book gets to that stage.
It can be frustrating for a self-published author to find out that his or her book must be converted to a Microsoft Word file before it can get the necessary editing that it needs, thereby eliminating some of the layout aspects.
If you are writing a book and looking forward to publishing it yourself on the Internet, keep in mind that, for a really professional job, do the edit before formatting. If you have your book professionally edited, the best option is to have it edited before it becomes a PDF.

Originally Posted 10/3/2010 and happily updated 20/28/2017. Thanks for reading!

Not sure what YOU really need?

Get Professional Help

Get a free editing sample outlining areas you need to fix before publishing. Discover what works!

Enter your email to subscribe to our newsletter, get free advice and connect with other authors.
I am an author of:  
My email: