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ProWritingAid- A Great Editing Tool for Authors

ProWritingAid- A Great Self-editing-tool for Authors

Hello Lovelies,

One of the greatest struggles I have witnessed authors have is self-editing. There is a reason that publishing houses used to be teeming with editors. However, as the industry attempts to decrease overhead, whether your goal is a traditional publishing contract or to self-publish, more of the editing and polishing will fall to you. With so many tools around for writers to address problems like this, it can be overwhelming to figure out which tools work and which don’t. Me? I think ProWritingAid is great for authors.  (Full confession, this is an affiliate link because I love them that much!) At first, I went with this app because the company had a promo deal going when I was with Our Write Side. I’ve stuck with them because I’ve learned a lot about my writing, grammar rules, and how to self-edit better. Here’s my breakdown of this tool’s pros, cons, and how ProWritingAid can make you a better writer.

About ProWritingAid

The first thing to understand is that ProWritingAid can be accessed in two different ways. ProWritingAid has an online version. Just go to their website and paste a copy of your text into their editor and off you go. It is also available as a download to use offline. This leads me to the next nice feature. ProWritingAid is available for multiple applications from Scrivener and Word to Google Docs. ProWritingAid is also available on Apple and PC.

I love the fact I can use this program no matter what platform I’m working on. One thing to note is that for Word it is a plug-in available right in the program while Scrivener has a separate app on your desktop. Now that we’ve covered how to find ProWritingAid, let’s talk for a minute about the reports.

There are 25 different reports you get once you run your text through it. Don’t worry, though, you don’t necessarily need to use all of them. ProWritingAid is great for authors because it separates each report so you can look at only the reports you choose. Sentence length, overused words, pronoun check, consistency check, and grammar are some of my favorite ones. Click on the report you want to see and ProWritingAid takes you through each highlighted instance flagged, as well as suggestions to fix the issue. Some common sense will be necessary as not all the suggestions make perfect sense. You also don’t want to accept all the recommended changes as it can quickly lose your unique author “flavor”. However, I’ve found that making about 70% of the recommended changes provides a more quality piece while still maintaining my unique voice. The best part is each item flagged is accompanied by a brief explanation of why it was flagged. This has helped me immensely in refreshing the technical rules.

My Experience

My favorite report so far is the overused words report. I never realized how bad I was about using the same words over and over. At least not until ProWritingAid highlighted the issue for me. What I love about this report is that it flags all instances of the overused word and suggests how many instances of that word should be changed. This helps me because I can change the overused word evenly as I go through revising the piece. Another one I am in love with is the grammar report. I get hands-on examples of where I screwed up and how to fix the highlighted issues. Even things like passive voice are addressed. Finally, I found ProWritingAid to be intuitive right out of the gate.

ProWritingAid can be used for academic writing, creative writing, and anything in between. I appreciate this feature because I can use it for my articles here, the content I write for work, and for my creative writing.

The Limitations

Yep. There are limitations to ProWritingAid. I briefly mentioned this one already—it’s just a program. I think it’s a good program, but being a program means it will not be right every single time. Sometimes I want a sentence to be longer than is generally accepted, or I’m breaking a grammar rule on purpose. ProWritingAid doesn’t get these things, so it will flag them as an issue. You can skip through these occurrences easily though. Just make sure you take the time to review each flag you get to make sure you understand the options being presented. 

A few of the reports have a steeper learning curve, like the glue index. That means either some trips to the ProWritingAid website and blog to help learn the reports or skipping them. I’d suggest learning the reports because they have made me a better writer. It can get frustrating, though, trying to figure some of this out. Another minor issue I’ve noticed about ProWritingAid is that occasionally it will hiccough and flag something as an issue when there’s no issue. The biggest time I’ve seen this with is in the sentence length report. It has flagged something as too long, but when I check the flagged spot and find two sentences, but ProWritingAid has missed the period. Again, it’s not a flawless perfect system. The final concern for many is that this is a paid subscription tool. It’s an annual premium of $50 for 1 year. Multiple-year subscriptions give you a discount on the per-year rate. They recently added a lifelong subscription for $240. This can be a killer for some people. For me, the lifetime subscription was worth it because I found the explanations in ProWritingAid to be easier to follow than other tools and they keep improving the product. To help out with the cost, Prowritingaid has allowed me to offer a 20% discount code to my readers. You can get that here.


Overall, ProWritingAid has helped me learn to be a better writer. I’m getting the hang of grammar rules that used to perplex me. My sentence length issues are getting better. I’ve even improved in my overused words, though there’s still ground to cover. How do I know these things? When I first submitted, I’d have a ton of red ink, so to speak, on my draft to edit before publication. More recently, the amount of red ink can be measured in pints, not gallons. That tells me this tool has taught me to be a better writer. Is it the only tool around? Nope. It is a worthwhile tool to have that really can improve your writing though. I know it has for me. Don’t forget, you can purchase through my affiliate link, which helps me keep providing great free content to you. If you have any questions about ProWritingAid, share in the comments below. 

Not interested in using ProWritingAid, or already used it and would like a final line edit? Feel free to contact me

Until next time, 

Keep Writing!

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Self-editing Tips and Tricks to Save on Editing Costs for your Book

Tips and Tricks to Save on Editing Costs

This post was updated on October 14th, 2021

Hello Lovelies,

Editing. The hardest part of being an author. By FAR! And the place that you will find the most scammers out there to make a quick buck. Seriously, there isn’t a site I’ve been to that doesn’t have tons of people peddling questionable skills to authors. I have seen so many authors get badly burned because they hired sub-par editors, or they hire top-notch editors (who are worth a pretty penny!) without having done any self-editing of their book and end up paying through the nose.

So, let’s talk about each step of editing and some free ways to address it so your editor spends less time doing the work, and in turn will charge you less!   If you are traditionally published by one of the big houses, your book will go through several editors before it goes to print. There’s a process, much like sanding, and if you do not get each step, then you are missing out. While you can go back and forth between steps, step two cannot truly be done until step one is finished, and step three cannot truly be done until step two is finished. 

As we review each step, I will share what an editor does for that step, and things you can do to self-edit your book before sending to that type of editor that will help save you money.

Step 1. Developmental Editing

The first step is general editing. (Also called content editing, revisions, story editing, developmental editing, substantive editing, re-writes, etc.). This is where the editor goes through the story and catches plot holes, recommends what needs to be cut, re-written, added, etc. This is where character development and motivations are analyzed, where genre tropes are explored. It is carving your vision from the rough wood, or refining the best of the story.

How can you save money on an editor for this step?

After you hit “the end”, shelf your book for a few days or weeks, then start fresh reading it focusing specifically on story development. If you find issues address them. Rinse and repeat until you are able to finish without any changes being made. But you can probably see a host of reasons why this is not ideal. One, you can only fix what you know to fix. Two, it is very time-consuming. Three, you know things about your character and the story that maybe never made it to paper but you have it in your brain and even with time off, those elements may still impact your story. 

I personally do this developmental self-editing step for all of my books, in two ways. First, I re-read what I wrote my last session to get me back in the groove for my writing session. As I am reading it, I can catch obvious iussues. Then, once the manuscript is done, I put it away for a week and then do a full read on a weekend when I don’t have anything else planned. I find the longer I give my “memory” to reflect on the story, the less likely I am to catch issues so a quick read-through works best for me. Then, rather than shelving and going for a 2nd go in another week, I will actually do the 2nd option for self-editing.

A second option that is very helpful is to get someone who isn’t an editor to do a read with some guidelines. A lot of authors work in peer groups and this is a great (usually free) resource.  Others use Alpha readers. This is a good place to have your mom, or cousin, or friend read through and point out issues in the story. If you aren’t working with a professional group, (or even if you are, depending on the quality of the group) you want to send a list of questions to your alpha reader to answer as they review, so that they know what to look for. Here’s my favorite Developmental self-editing checklist, and I post it at the beginning with a thank you note, and then add it to the end of each chapter, to encourage regular commentary. (FYI, I totally use this list during my own pass-through. It is that handy!)

For the reviewer: Please provide responses to at least five of the questions below:

  • Is the writing clear? (Did the author provide the key info regarding tense, POV, use of language to enable you to follow their writing with ease?)
  • Can you visualize the settings and characters? Is there too little or too much description?
  • Does the story flow well in terms of time, POV, setting – or does it jump from scene to scene?
  • Are the characters believable for their age, occupation, time period?
  • Is the dialogue natural or forced? Is any dialect easy to follow or does it distract you from your reading?
  • Are there too many or not enough dialogue/action tags? Can you follow the conversations easily?
  • Are there any sections you skipped? Why?
  • Are you confused by any parts of the story?
  • Did you feel the emotion of the story? Were you drawn into the character’s world?
  • Is there enough intrigue, conflict, tension, emotional pull to make you want to read on?

Feel free to comment on other aspects also, such as voice, style, use of language, character development, structure …and so on.

Thank you,


The struggle of crowd sourcing this step is that:

  • It can be time-consuming.
  • You cannot guarantee the quality of the responses you will get.
  • You risk your work getting exposed before it is ready.

I make sure for this step that I am using people I really trust, and I keep the group small (Ideally at least 3, never more than 9) and they all sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). You will still want to make sure that the editor you hire will also cover this, but your goal is that there will be very little work required at this step so that they don’t have to take as much time covering it and what time is spent on it is taking your good book to make it GRRRREAT!

I’ll be honest, when I quote line editing projects, if I see a lot of content issues, I won’t even offer a line editing bid. I will recommend that they submit a developmental editing sample so I can give them a quote on that. I have seen books where they clearly hodge-podged editing issues and it is sad. On the other hand, while I am doing line edits if I catch dev edit issues I will mark them as well. 

Another thing that I do, which I think is unique. I always provide links to additional content when I make recommendations. I am a teacher first, editor second. 

Want to get a free Developmental Edit quote?

Step 2. Line Editing

Also referred to as copyediting, stylistic editing, second edits, or for lazy editors “editing”. This is where the shape of the story gets more cleanly refined. The rough sanding to pull out the general form you created, gradually getting finer until your woodworking project has come to life….. er, your story. Right, we’re talking about editing!

The editor will go line by line to make sure the sentence structure is correct, the grammar is correct and the meaning is clearly conveyed. They will recommend word changes, writing in active voice, or removing sentences that are repeating information.

9 times out of 10, when you get an editor who says they “provide editing services” without breaking those down, this is what they are referring to and unless you clarify, you will get nothing more. There are some clever tools that you can use to self-edit your book for the editor so that they don’t have as much work to do (and in my case, will charge you less) such as ProWritingAid and Grammarly.

However, one of the concerns I have about these tools is that they are only as useful as the hands that wield them. Grammarly is great for technical writing and online copy, but it doesn’t take into account stylistic choices that are seen in many works of fiction. ProWritingAid is a bit better, in that it actually analyzes your text and makes a note to where words are overused and makes stylistic recommendations, but it’s not skilled at specific genres. Both tools are better than nothing, but just like with Word, you still need to know enough to make the right choice in the end. After you run through these programs, you still want to hire an editor, but as you get the hang of it, these programs are great because they will help you write better as you learn the skills. Then you will find that the cost of an editor will drop significantly.

Just as with dev edits, when I am editing for a client I will cite resources that explain the rules. I always use track changes or suggestion mode because at the end of the day your work is your work so it is up to you which rules to follow and which to ignore. 

For clients on a tight budget, I also offer my line edits chapter by chapter so as you learn things from the previous chapter you can incorporate them throughout the rest of the work before me and save yourself even more money. 

Want a free Line Edit quote?

The Final step: Proofreading

The final step is proofreading. The internet has LOTS of differing opinions on exactly what proof reading entails. The gist is that proof reading is a last read-through to catch any final errors. A lot of editors do this pre-layout, but in my humble opinion (and in traditional publishing) it should be done after layout (and in each format you are publishing in) to catch any missed bits. The benefits to doing this after you complete layout is that the proofreader can look at the product as if they were a customer. They can catch not only misspellings, homonyms, and punctuation; they can also “double-check” layout. Consider it a final buff, polish, and seal on your project to make it as shiny and appealing as possible.

Having someone who can catch all the writerly bits as well as spotting funky layout on the page, such as widows and orphans, and the general appeal of the final product will allow you to produce the best final version possible. If you are tight on budget, Beta Readers are a great tool for proofreading. I would choose 5 top readers, and provide them with instructions on what you are looking for and how to notate it.  

If you are sending them a post-layout copy (as you should), ask them to keep a running journal and note the version they are reviewing. (E-pub, PDF, Paperback, Mobi, etc.) Then have them track the errors as such: chapter/page number the error occurs, paragraph number, sentence number, and what the error is. Easy, peasy.

Want a proofreading quote?

Final Thoughts Before Hiring an Editor

I work as an editor in fiction and non-fiction. I have published over a hundred books in my career, and written and published over a baker’s dozen. After 20 years of experience, I still hire an editor for my own work. I have actually had people question my editing skills for this. But the reality is any editor who is also a writer will tell you that they do the same thing. We all have blind spots. We all know what we mean to say and so even when using tricks like “read it aloud sentence by sentence from end to beginning” to catch line errors, some slip through because our brain cannot be tricked. 

Some would say “Eh, but it is better than what a lot of others are producing. I see errors in traditionally published books. Surely you can give yourself a pass?” Except I don’t want to produce better. I want to produce great. And don’t call me Shirley! (Blame my husband for that horrible pop culture reference!)

I strongly recommend that an author gets as many eyes on a project as possible before going to publication and I live by my advice. No book can ever be perfect. But the goal is to have it as perfect as possible.

I do provide all three forms of editing services, but I will not provide all at the same time. Although you can hire me for all three, I will only accept such contracts for all three if the author has utilized other resources (such as the ones noted above) and I require two weeks off between stages to “scrub my brain” so to speak. If you have an editor who does offer all three services in “one pass” you should question the quality of those services.

What are your questions about editing?

Are there any free tools you use?

Let us know in the comments below!

Until next time, 

Keep Writing!