Proofread your own novel: woman sitting with laptop on bed

Many authors will choose to edit their work themselves, but here’s why you shouldn’t proofread your own novel.

So you’ve written your novel and you’re happy with the way it’s turned out. But….now what? You can choose to self-publish, or try sending your manuscript out to agents and publishing houses. But before you can do either of these things, your novel will need to be edited. Whether you choose to do this yourself, or decide to hire a professional like me is up to you. It’s all dependent on budget, and time scales.

However, to help you make the decision, I’ve outlined some of the downsides of choosing to proofread your own novel.


You’re too involved with the manuscript

You’ve spent so much time writing and creating this manuscript, that you won’t be able to proofread your own novel efficiently and accurately. The more you look at something, the less you actually ‘see’ it. You noticed that crack in the plaster under your window when it first appeared, but over time you notice it less. It hasn’t got any smaller, but you’ve become used to it. You’re aware it’s there, but you’re not registering it as being there anymore.

It’s the same principle with your novel. You’re too accustomed to it to be able to see the flaws and cracks within it. This is why you need an outside opinion. You need someone who can come to the manuscript with fresh eyes and no expectations.

This is especially the case with editing as well as proofreading. You may no longer be able to see plot holes or character inconsistencies. You may be more able to proofread your own novel if you step away from the manuscript for at least a month. This time will allow you to return to it and perhaps see things you didn’t before.


Spellchecker isn’t reliable

Not everyone is good at spelling and grammar. For writers, there might be lots of other aspects they’re good at: descriptions, sentence syntax, 3d characters. But sometimes, spelling and grammar just eludes some people.

Spellcheck is normally a good fix. However, there are plenty of flaws. It might tell you that your sentence isn’t grammatically correct, or that it makes use of passive voice. But it can’t tell you how to fix these things.

It will pick up spelling errors, but if you make a typo that creates another word, this won’t be picked up. For example: ‘The cat skidded down the hill and came to a sudden stop’. While ‘cat’ isn’t the right word in this context, spellcheck won’t pick it up as a spelling error, because it ‘thinks’ it is spelt right. Only a human being can pick up this type of mistake.

The other context this may happen in is word confusion. E.g. mixing up ‘peak’ and ‘pique’.

There are other programmes you could use that might help more, such as Grammarly. However, in most cases, you should hire someone, rather than trying to proofread your own novel.


You’re just fed up

You’ve probably spent months or even possibly years working on your manuscript. You might have lived and breathed it, had dreams about your characters, woken up in the middle of the night with an idea. It’s probably a good idea to just take a step back from it. Get a good night’s sleep. Don’t start your laptop up every night to work on it. Take some time off! Otherwise, you’ll start to resent your work.


Proofreading your own novel can be tricky, and equally paying someone else to do it can be expensive. Weigh up which option is best for you. Get a few quotes from some reliable proofreaders to compare how much it will cost you.

Why You Shouldn’t Proofread Your Own Novel

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