Self Editing on the Cheap (And Even Free)
When was the last time you read something and found errors? Maybe you found spelling errors. Or perhaps it errors with the grammar. Chances are, if you found more than one error, the author will be guilty of both types. Yikes!
But even when the spelling and grammar are correct, writers will include sentences that just don't gel with you. Is the author a poor writer? Maybe. But more likely he didn't have the work edited.
Writers don't like to spend money on editors because editors cost money, sometimes a lot of it. I could write another entire post just on that subject alone. But let's assume that I agree that editors are too much for most budgets. There are ways to self edit that can save some money in the process.
Start With Spell Checking
Most word processors today have pretty decent spell checking features. After something is written, it should be copied into the word processor and allow the word processor to do the job of finding spelling errors. It will find 98% of those errors.
Read the Work Out Loud
Our minds work too quickly. We filter out a lot of junk. But this can cause us to overlook spelling and grammar errors. When we read silently, those errors could (and usually will) get passed over. This is why it's best to read your work out loud. This forces your brain to slow down. It will also help you hear how each passage sounds.
An even better approach is to have someone else read your work if you can get them to take the time to do it. They too should read it out loud for the same filtering reasons. I understand that everyone is busy these days and it may be difficult to convince them to do this for you. This is especially true if the work is long, like a novel. Which is why the next solution could work nicely.
Use a Text to Speech Program
I know what you're thinking. Those text to speech (TTS) voices sound robotic. How can that possibly help. Well, my answer to that is the technologies are improving rapidly. The voices are getting better and better all the time. Even though the voices still have a robotic feel to them, they will not skip over any passage. And the voices are good enough for the purposes of self editing your work. I find mistakes all the time when using this technique.
Of course, it's not going to be 100% perfect. But it really doesn't have to be. If you can grab 95% (or more) of the mistakes using TTS, then you've knocked out most of the glaring errors that will occur. This will keep your errors down to the one or two that people can live with.
Where to Find Text to Speech Programs
There are several solutions available but you should always do your own search as it changes frequently. Simply do a search for:
Free Online Text to Speech
Free Online TTS
Online TTS Free
Free TTS Software
Keep in mind that the free options will either be restricted on the number of times you use it or it will not be very high quality or both. For the purposes of editing your documents quality is not really an issue. You just want a voice that will read back the passages of your document so that you can listen for anything that may be out of place. This could also help catch the other 2% of the spelling errors as the robot reader may mispronounce the misspelled word.
No Solution is 100% Perfect
All of the solutions I have given to you today will probably miss some errors here or there. Also realize that professional editors can miss some items as well. The only difference is you can hold the editors accountable because you are paying them.