Independently published authors, i.e. self-published, get a lot of free advice. Somewhere in there is a pony, but you shovel through a ration of deuce to find it. Here is some free advice.


Everyone urges getting a professional editor for your manuscript to render it suitable for polite society. This is one imperative you should ignore. Here is all you need to know, and you can do it yourself.


1.     Run spell and grammar check. Be cautious about taking the hints but do something about the areas it flags, even if you just toss in a few more commas.

2.     What about spelling? Relax. Spelling is a twentieth century concern. Words came out every which way before the dictionary craze. Unshackle yourself from such obsessions. Consider this sentence, “Fred enjoyed lunch at the Golden Chorale.” Misspelling? Maybe, or it could suggest, in a fleeting notion too fast to register consciously, that Fred has passed away and is stopping over for lunch on his way to heaven. If spelling was one of your hang-ups this kind of serendipitous allusion would be impossible.

3.     What about commas? Many people consider them a big deal. Here are two simple rules about commas. Follow them and move on.

a.     Place a comma wherever you’d run out of breath in reading aloud.

b.     Take short breaths.

Anyway, commas are largely irrelevant in today’s world, and where they go is mostly a matter of personal taste. Want to start a fist-fight among English grad students? Question someone’s comma decisions.

4.     What about other punctuation? Periods are easy. Question marks are easy. Quotation marks are easy. Colons and semicolons are superfluous, but if you feel the need drop a few in. They can’t hurt anything. Dashes and slashes will fill most of your more puzzling punctuation needs. Apostrophes are the vogue punctuation of our day, but that interest will soon fade. You can drop one in before an “s” now and then, but don’t overdo it. Spell check will catch the contractions. If you miss one, most people won’t notice. That leaves:

5.     The exclamation mark! It’s your friend! It should be used whenever you need emphasis on something! If that scene isn’t generating the excitement you’d hoped for, well, that’s what the exclamation mark is for! Use it! Again! And! Again! But sparingly!

6.     Capitalization: Everyone knows names and sentences begin with capitals. Beyond that, these handy things are just like the exclamation mark and are most useful for artistic expression. “Don’t Be Afraid To Do It Your Way!!!”

7.     Other grammar rules:

a.     Subject/verb agreement: again, don’t obsess. Different languages have different so-called rules. If it sounds right go with it.

b.     Tenses, moods and so forth. These aren’t real concepts anyway. Have you ever heard anyone explain them in a coherent way? Of course not. Have you ever heard anyone say, “If I were certain of anything, I would have been taken aback.” Not likely. They’d say, “Baloney!”

c.      Word usage. Take a tip from Alice (as in “Wonderland”). The words should mean what you want them to mean. Who’s in charge, anyway? 

So, that’s it. That’s all there is to it. Do you need an editor to do what you can do for yourself? Don’t be a wuss. Now, get back to formatting that manuscript to the specifications of your ePublisher. That’s where the real payoff is. They aren’t going to reject your manuscript because of spelling or new-age grammar, but, boy, you don’t want those margins in the wrong place. Good Luck/Writing!

Now, go back and get some more advice.

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