for the Writers

13 tools for editing your book

As I began editing my story, I asked a bunch of writers – either that I personally know or through Facebook writers groups – what tools they use when editing their book.

I was shocked that most didn’t have a plan or a tool…they just wing it!

I’m sure most of us would like a plan of attack. And so I give you:

Tools to edit your book

Best part: Most of these are free!

Disclaimer: I have not used most of these. This is what either other authors have recommended to me or I have found through extensive googling.  But they look great! Take what you can use and make your plan of attack. Less willy nilly…but don’t ditch the willy nilly….We all need that too 😉


1) Microsoft Word shortcuts – <3 My favvie!

This writer was thoughtful enough to list out each step of her editing process and all the shortcuts or steps she takes in Word to find and fix these common errors. This is the most practical item I’ve found in my search. Use it!

2) 25 editing tips – checklist

Woohoo, I love checklists. I know where to start, what to do, and when I’m finished 🙂

3 & 4) Developmental edits – list of questions here or here

These are called checklists, but more like a list of questions to ask as you edit. Includes questions on plot, character, dialogue, style, etc. Very thorough, so if you want to catch every nuance, this is the list for you. I think I’d read my manuscript 50 times to catch all these questions haha 🙂

5) Proofreading checklist – PDF

I list editing software below, but you want to check things yourself too. For readability, grammar, punctuation, spelling – here’s that checklist.

6) Natural Reader – text to speech

Does not require download, just copy and paste your words into the website to hear your story read to you – a great way to catch errors you might accidentally gloss over if you read it silently. It’s bold claim is that it reads it in a “natural” voice, hence Natural Reader.

Also available as a free download to read from PDFs, Word, and offline.

Paid version with more features also available.

7) Readable – readability grades

Free, with premium paid version also available. Copy and paste text in, then see various grade levels on the right. Also notes adverbs, passive voice, cliches, and lengthy sentences and words.

8) Hemingway app – readability and editing

Copy and paste into the website to see grade level for readability, adverbs, passive voice, and hard to read passages. Best part: all these are color-coded 🙂 Note: in my brief test-run, spelling errors got the squiggly like Word, but punctuation errors weren’t mentioned.

9) Text Analyzer – see which words you over-use

Do you constantly say everything is “glorious” in your novel? I mean, it’s a glorious word, but you don’t want to over-use it. Copy and paste your text into this website to see which words and phrases are most common in your story. Obviously “the” and “and” and major character names will be prominent, but what else do you say that may be too much?

10) Ginger – editing software & text to speech

Just download it to your device. It’ll check spelling, grammar, and more. As far as I can tell, it’s free.

11) Grammarly – editing software

This is more popular than Ginger, at least in my circle. Whether that means it’s better or not, I can’t say. This is also a free software download.


*The below cost money but were recommended to me by other writers. You might want to check them out 🙂 *

12) ProWriting Aid – editing software

Free version for up to 500 words at a time. Annual cost of $40-45 if you want to edit more than that at a time.

13) EDITS System – lecture

Costs $22. Lets you know what you need to edit where.

Have any recommendations of your own? Comment below with what tools, tips, or tricks help you tackle book editing 🙂


25 thoughts on “13 tools for editing your book”

    1. Richard, I’ll have to look up dragon professional, I’ve wondered about something for good dictation.

      And thank you for recommending this post on your site! I’m honored 🙂 I hope your readers find these resources useful

      1. I’m a freelance editor. I rely on my eyes to edit my client’s work, though I do let Word do its thing as well to double-check anything I’ve missed.
        But for my own novels (which I’m always more nervous about because I read them far too much), I’ve long been interested in the editing programs that read to you. Have you tried one?

        1. I haven’t tried one yet, but I love the idea because I catch mistakes quicker when I read out loud than in my head. Right now I’m working on big picture edits, then I plan to try it out. if you try one, let me know what ya think!

        1. That’s a great idea! I have on my to-do list to kinda reconfigure the blog pages and categories a bit, so I’ll consider that option when I do that project 🙂

  1. Hi Amy – – I nominated your for a blogger award! Check out my site for rules if you choose to participate. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blogs! Thank you for your insights.

  2. I’m definitely interested in Natural Reader. I’ve never heard my work read by someone else. I’m dying to hear how it sounds differently than in my head. I had never even thought of doing this before.

    There are no tools that I use besides the WordPress editing and my own knowledge of English grammar. There are times when the editor doesn’t point something out and I am uncertain about its detection skills. The worse part is that I can’t pinpoint the problem. I sometimes cringe calling myself a writer because there are more grammar-savvy writers out there picking out all of the numerous errors in my work, or style, or consistency. But hey, we’ve all got good and bad days and we’ve got to start somewhere. Like sometimes, I don’t hit publish for days because I’m editing and then the moment for the piece has passed, and I have to wait for its next moment to come. I think that most times, life gives us multiple moments.

    1. That’s a beautiful philosophy, that life gives us multiple moments <3

      And editing is slightly over-rated! (Only slightly lol.) Important yes, but it's not what makes a writer. Obsessive strict editing can kill a piece but magical writing will shine thru even with a couple grammar mistakes. Us writer souls do the best we can, then let the story do it's thing regardless 🙂

      I'm intrigued by natural reader too. It's the one I'm most eager to use, just waiting til I finish my big-picture edits.

      1. I totally agree that too much emphasis on absolute grammatical correctness can, at least for me, take away some of the joy and/o freshness from the piece. I do love to revise though. It’s one of my favorite things. But magical writing, as you say, will always shine through. The story should have a little room to move about.
        I feel the same about natural reader. I want to give it my best and see what my best sounds like.

  3. Thanks for the great list. When I start editing I use index cards. One scene as it actually exists in my draft goes on each card, then I lay them all out on the floor and wait for the cat to start rolling around on them. Once he gets off I straighten them and analyse the structure. I figure out what to cut, what to add, and what to move. It’s much faster to do it on cards than in the draft. Index cards are awesome. 🙂

    1. I’ve recently heard about using index cards of each scene for outlining, never thought about using it in the editing phase. I like that idea. Would especially come in handy for my WIP that has two intersecting timelines it jumps between – lots of parts I could see moving around there.

      And ha, the pesky cat! <3

      1. I tend to write simple and linear, but I can imagine index cards (did you know they come in different colours?) would be great for keeping everything straight in a more complex story. You do need a large space to spread them out in, though.

        1. Yes, I was thinking one color card for one timeline, one color card for the other timeline, and maybe a third color for random notes of like turning points and inciting incidents and things I want to make sure I have in certain spaces.

Leave a Reply