The Simple Rule To Self-Editing
Yes, the simple rule to self-editing is simply to keep it simple. Now let's put things into perspective. Microsoft Word humbly let's you know when it feels your vocabulary may be a little off or there is an obvious spacing issue that is apparent in your paragraphs.
This is the bulk of the self-editing that you should be doing.
Actual EDITING of your book should not be exercised. Self-editing beyond the above mentioned items can be too complex a web for a writer because you are battling with the obvious (i.e. misspelled words) vs. writer's uncertainty (i.e. "is this good enough?"). After you create the outline for the storyline you are writing you should just write. There may be sections that will need to be removed from your manuscript but let your editor bring that to your attention after you finish.
A writer is the biggest critic for it's own work. If you constantly "edit" your work, you will never finish. This is why your outline will be critical to the progression of your title. As you write your manuscript or finish and do a once over, ask yourself:
1. Are my chapters in alignment with my outline? (Note: You should be evaluating this after each chapter to make sure you are creating the right flow for your storyline.)
2. Are there any red squiggly lines that I may have overlooked that need to be corrected? (Note: Sometimes we write slang that may not be listed in a dictionary or we make up a word for the purposes of the story. You are able to click "Ignore" for these instances in Spellcheck since these words are technically right.)
3. Have I addressed the above two items? If yes - then hand off your manuscript to the EDITOR.
Writers think their work is great, and most likely it is. However, you are too familiar with your own work so besides being overly critical you may miss things that will be more visible to fresh eyes. This is why self-editing should be kept simple and let the heavy work be left to the professionals. Your editor will assist you with pointing out any gaps in the storyline of your manuscript, formatting issues or anything else that you may have missed.
Jewel: Keep it simple. Writing a solid manuscript is an arduous enough task, don't complicate it by stepping outside of your role. Stick to writing!