Through the Sisters-in-Crime self-published authors' Yahoo! Group, I learned about an editing tool, Prowritingaid.com. I am cautious by nature and definitely do not have money to waste, so I checked this site out several times before I decided it might be the right editing tool for me.
The site provides layers of editing. There is no download of software, which I like. Instead, you upload your project onto their site. From there you can run a summary report which tells you things like overused words, how many long sentences, readability level, spelling issues, grammar issues, number of “sticky” sentences, number of same sentence starts, clichés, pacing, and more. When it reports overused words, or adverbs, it tells you the words and by how many you should reduce.
The software prefers smaller amounts of text, as opposed to an entire 81,000 word book, so I uploaded one chapter at a time, ran a summary report, and with split screen, adjusted my manuscript on the spot. I then put the chapters through the various diagnostics, i.e. grammar, style and sticky. I didn’t need to do readability or pacing, as I was in their “green” zone for those. And just to make you feel good, on the areas where they find issues, they’ll tell you how much better you are than the rest of the users! Like, you are 67% better than …
The website allows you to do a free test on a 500 word document. I tried it out on the first couple of chapters of my book, and was amazed at the helpful hints the site provided. I decided to purchase a license from them and for $40 I have use of this site for a year.
I highly recommend this site for all writers - for those who write for newspapers, newsletters, periodicals, magazines, as well as full-length books. I had no idea how many times I used the word “knew.” He knew, she knew, they knew. Prowritingaid.com picked-up on this usage for almost every chapter. I then went through with the Find feature in Word and found those little buggers!