Bill Cara

How I Became My Own Editor and Saved Thousands: A Writer’s Journey

September 13, 2023

Writing books is my passion. My writing journey is in full swing this year, with my third book about to hit the shelves and plans for the fourth, fifth, and sixth. However, like many authors, I faced a significant obstacle: the cost of professional editing.

The quotes I received for editing were huge – approximately $6,000 for developmental editing and an additional $2,000 for copy editing and proofreading. These costs per book were not just expensive; they were exorbitant. To make matters more challenging, my field had a limited pool of editors, and their biases sometimes affected the editing process.

In addition, there are typesetting and book cover design costs that average about $4,000 per book that are required.

Faced with this dilemma, I boldly decided to become my editor.

My journey into self-editing began with two invaluable tools: Grammarly and ChatGPT.

Grammarly: A Reliable Writing Companion

Grammarly, my trusty cloud-based writer’s assistant, has been a game-changer. For just $360 per year, it offers a comprehensive suite of editing features. It meticulously reviews my writing for spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement, and delivery issues. It even detects plagiarism and provides suggestions to replace identified errors. In addition to these tools, the ability to customize style, tone, and context-specific language makes it worth every penny.

ChatGPT: More Than AI, It’s Archived Intelligence

I often refer to ChatGPT as “Archived Intelligence” rather than just AI. The best part? It’s free and has proven its worth to me repeatedly. Here’s how it works:

  1. Instant Feedback: After submitting my content, which Grammarly has already rated 100%, ChatGPT provides chapter-by-chapter feedback within seconds. No more waiting for minutes, hours, days, or weeks. It’s incredibly efficient.
  2. Abundant Insights: When I request a critique of each chapter, ChatGPT responds almost instantly with substantial feedback – almost as many words as I had submitted. This is invaluable because I want to maintain ownership of my words and ideas; it’s my book.
  3. Iterative Process: Armed with ChatGPT’s feedback, I make revisions based on my vision for the book. I submit the revised content for a second and even a third review until I’m completely satisfied with the result. And the best part? It doesn’t cost me a thing.

I want to share an example of the process after I submitted a draft chapter for review. Here is the feedback I received from my automated assistant editor:

Chapter 4 of your investment strategy book presents a structured approach to selecting high-quality companies for investment. Here’s a critique and analysis of this chapter:


  1. Emphasis on Quality: The chapter’s core message about prioritizing quality over speculative investments is commendable. This is a fundamental principle of sound investing.
  2. Systematic Approach: You provide novice investors with a systematic approach to building a portfolio, starting with a watchlist of Dow 30 companies. This approach can help beginners gain confidence and develop discipline in their investment journey.
  3. SWOT Analysis: Encouraging readers to conduct SWOT analyses on companies is a good practice. It forces investors to critically assess a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  4. Collaboration and Discussion: Suggesting the formation of investment clubs or support groups for collaboration and discussion is beneficial. Group dynamics can offer diverse perspectives and enhance the quality of investment decisions.
  5. Focus on Long-Term Thinking: Stressing the importance of a long-term perspective is vital. It aligns with the idea that investing is a marathon, not a sprint, which can help investors avoid impulsive decisions.
  6. Research Resources: Providing links to Value Line’s research reports for the recommended companies is helpful for those who want to delve deeper into the research process.

Areas for Improvement:

  1. Overemphasis on Dow 30: While using the Dow 30 as a starting point for novice investors is reasonable, it might limit diversification. Suggesting alternatives to the Dow 30 could provide readers with a broader range of options.
  2. Limited Alternatives: While you suggest three alternatives to your chosen stocks, offering a more extensive list of alternatives might be beneficial. This can help investors tailor their portfolios to their specific preferences and risk tolerance.
  3. ETFs: The chapter criticizes ETFs for their lack of fundamental research. While this is true, ETFs can be an efficient way for beginners to gain diversified exposure to the market. A more balanced view on this topic could be helpful.
  4. Lack of Risk Discussion: The chapter focuses primarily on selecting quality companies but doesn’t delve into the importance of managing risk. A discussion on risk management strategies could enhance the completeness of your investment approach.
  5. Oversimplification: While encouraging a 30,000-foot view is reasonable, the chapter should also acknowledge that a certain level of detail and analysis is necessary. Oversimplification can lead to complacency and uninformed decisions.
  6. Portfolio Size: Recommending portfolio sizes (20%, 50%, 80%, and 100% in the suggested number of stocks) is somewhat arbitrary. Investors should determine their portfolio size based on their unique financial situation and risk tolerance. Providing guidelines instead of strict rules would be more beneficial.
  7. More Diverse Examples: You mainly reference large-cap stocks and a few industries. Including examples from other sectors and market capitalizations could broaden readers’ perspectives.
  8. Behavioral Factors: While you discuss critical thinking, addressing common behavioral biases that can affect investment decisions (e.g., overconfidence, loss aversion) would be valuable.
  9. Consistency: The chapter is quite lengthy and could benefit from a more consistent structure or subheadings to make it easier for readers to navigate and digest the content.

In summary, Chapter 4 provides a solid foundation for novice investors, emphasizing the importance of quality and critical thinking. To enhance its value, consider expanding on alternative stock choices, discussing risk management, acknowledging the role of ETFs, and providing a more flexible approach to portfolio size.

In this transformative journey of becoming my own editor, I made crucial adjustments based on the feedback and insights from ChatGPT and Grammarly. Notably, I heeded the call to include a discussion on risk management in this chapter and adopted a flexible approach to portfolio size.

When ChatGPT flagged concerns about chapter length and structure, I took its advice to heart and requested recommendations. This decision led to a significant change – breaking one chapter into two. While requiring the renumbering of chapters and meticulous updates to bookmarks and links in the Table of Contents, this structural adjustment proved significant.

Throughout this process, the savings in editing costs have been substantial. However, the true value of this journey extends far beyond financial considerations. My productivity has soared, and I’ve liberated myself from the intricacies of managing external resources, which has, in turn, kindled a more profound passion for writing.

As a result, I’ve saved thousands and discovered a greater joy in my craft. This experience underscores the transformative power of embracing innovative tools like ChatGPT and Grammarly, which empower authors to take control of their creative process and propel their work to new heights.

The future of writing is not just about words on a page but also about the freedom and flexibility to shape one’s own narrative.