Editing Hacks

Editing your picture book is more than using spelling and grammar checks. If you take the time to learn and incorporate better self editing techniques, you can become a stronger writer.

I appreciate those who choose to be an editor. The editors I have worked with, truly enjoy their work. A good editor understands what you are trying to do and can help you improve it. It is hard to hear criticism, but it’s the only thing that is going to make your work stronger. It is helpful to have someone who is not emotionally involved in your book read it so that you can receive objective advice.

Therefore, I highly recommend you hire someone to professionally edit your book, but before you send it off I hope you will try some of these tips.

Double Spaces

This is a fairly new one for me. The new rule is you should remove all double spaces at the end of the sentence. As you can see from this blog post I still have two spaces after a period. It is a habit that is difficult for me to break because I have been doing this my entire life. Now I must learn a new habit and only use one space after a period. When I am writing children’s stories I try to remember to use only one space, but what happens is some sentences have one space and others have two. One of my fellow authors has shared a secret with me. In Word, type two spaces in “find” and one space in “replace” and hit enter. This will make your editor happy.

You might be wondering why one space is better than two. One reason is back in the original days of typesetting, two spaces really were necessary in order to show the space between the end of one sentence and the beginning of a new one since spaces were much smaller. Now, because of the hundreds of font and size possibilities available on our PCs, Macs, mobile devices, and so on, using two spaces is no longer necessary for marking the line between old and new sentences. Another reason, is it simply looks better.

Unnecessary words

Remove unnecessary words from your manuscript. Since children’s books have a limited word count, the key is to make every word count. Try to look for and remove unnecessary words. I am guilt of using unnecessary words. For example, The tiny, little mouse. We know that a mouse is small there is no need for tiny or little. This has helped me to cut out these unnecessary words and stick to my word count goal.

Check for “Telling”

Check each sentence for telling. While you will need some telling, you want to have more showing. My tip is I try to visualize my character or the situation that is happening. This visualization helps me to see where I am telling too much.

A good way to add more showing is to add more sensory details. Use the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) when writing your story. When I feel that the story is getting stuck I try to add one of the senses to perk it up!

Use the FIND function

This is a great tool to check for “ly” words, “ing” words, weak verbs, and over used words such as “was.” I also try to vary my dialogue tags. It is easy to use said over and over, but there are a host of words to use that may help your reader. A simple internet search will help you.

Take illustrations into account

When writing a picture book you need to allow for illustrations. Picture books are a marriage between the words and illustrations—a 50/50 split. With picture books your content doesn’t have to describe every little detail—the illustrations will show those details.


While preferred styles may differ from Agent or Publisher, you can show your professionalism by formatting your manuscript to conform to industry standards. Miriam Laundry provides an excellent blog post with examples to guide you through the process.

Thoughts …

It’s almost impossible for us writers to catch all our own errors; we’re much too close to our work. We know the story inside and out and that makes it difficult to read it in an objective manner. These editing hacks can help you make your manuscript even stronger. Good luck!

With gratitude …

I am glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. It is an endless journey of learning and growing. A journey that I am enjoying. 

Have you checked out my website. There are surprises everywhere. Click on the balloons and see where they take you. Can you find two writing videos? Freebies? A chocolate chip recipe? There’s even a special freebie to anyone who subscribes to my monthly newsletter. I have a number of FREE resources for childrenparents and teachers that librarians and homeschooling families can download and use. 

A Call to Action … 

Hello! Have you subscribed to my monthly newsletter? You will receive book recommendations, freebies, craft ideas and exclusive giveaways. Please share the subscribe link with parents, teachers and librarians.   

If you have any questions or you would like to share your thoughts about this post, please leave your comments below. Thank you!

Leave a Comment