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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Working with an editor 1: How do I request a quote from an editor or proofreader? #amwriting

handshakeA large number of people get in touch with me every week to ask for a quote for editing or proofreading. I’ve put together these guidelines for contacting me for a price and turnaround quote, but it would apply to most editors and proofreaders I know, with a few tweaks here and there.

Sending me all this information in one go won’t give you a price decrease or a quicker turnaround if we end up making an agreement, but it will make the process easier and quicker – for both of us.

What does your prospective editor need to know?

This is what I need you to send to me in order to be able to give you a fair price and turnaround quote:

  • Is the material a book or something else (a website, advertising material, etc.)?
  • If it’s a book, is it fiction or non-fiction?
  • What is it, generally, about? (I have a list of things I don’t work on in the Content section of my Terms and Conditions – it is really helpful if you look at that first and check)
  • How long is the book – in words?
  • Is it finished and ready for editing yet?
  • When will you need it back from me?
  • What do you want me to do – editing or proofreading (see the distinction here, or the summary below)
  • A sample of your work – preferably from the middle of the book

Other editors might ask for other information at the first stage (if you’re an editor, do add a comment if you have other questions you ask – I’d love to know!)

Why does your editor need this information?

I need this information so I can work out

  • Whether I am the best fit for editing your book (if I’m not, I usually have someone I can recommend you on to)
  • Whether I can fit your project in to my schedule (I’m pretty busy with regulars and pre-booked work, so it’s unlikely although not impossible that I can fit you in at short notice)
  • What is a fair price, given the time it will take me to do your editing or proofreading
  • What is a fair turnaround time, given the scope of the work (with relation to the work I have in my schedule already)

I think that any editor would give the same answers.

A note on timing

Good editors and proofreaders get booked up quickly. If you have any idea of when your book will be ready for editing, start looking around for editors then, not a week before you want to put it out there.

For one thing, once you’ve had your book edited, that doesn’t mean it’s immediately ready for publication (see this article on that topic).

For another thing, your editor is likely to have other projects going on and will need to slot you into their schedule. The further in advance you ask them, the more likely they are to be able to fit you in.

I will never mind a vague estimate for a few months’ time, followed up by a firming-up process when we agree when the manuscript will arrive with me and when I’ll return it.

A last-minute request might work, but it’s much better and likely to be successful if you plan in advance.

Quick check: what service do I need?

Although this doesn’t quite fit in here, this is the issue that I have to clarify most frequently, so here’s what I send back to prospects explaining what I do – it’s useful to have a think about this before you contact me and decide what you need to be done:

I provide an editing service for fiction and non-fiction books and other texts. This will cover identification and resolution of

  • typos
  • spelling mistakes
  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • sentence structure (repetitive structures, etc.)
  • wording (repetitive word use, etc.)
  • consistent spelling / hyphenation / capitalisation throughout the text
  • comments where wording is unclear and suggestions about changes

This is typically done in Word with Track Changes turned on.

Substantive editing includes all of this plus suggestions on major changes to the format, ordering and content of the book.

My proofreading service looks at the manuscript once it’s ready for publication and checks for:

  • typos
  • inconsistencies
  • layout (including headings separated from text, page numbering, etc.)
  • matching contents page with headings and page numbers

This is typically done in PDF using comment balloons to mark up the text

Sending the correct information to an editor

This article has explained what information I need in order to provide a price and time turnaround quotation for editing your book. Other editors might need other information, and I’d love them to let me know if that’s the case. Hopefully this will make the process smoother for the author and the editor in those early stages of creating our arrangement.

Read the next article in this series: How do I negotiate with an editor and book my project in?

Other useful articles on this website

Do I need editing or proofreading?

Working with Tracked Changes

What is a style sheet?

On completion of your edit, will my manuscript be ready for publication?

How do I negotiate with an editor and book my project in?

 

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Copyediting, Ebooks, proofreading, Writing

 

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Small business chat questions – over to you!

Small business chat questions – over to you!

For a while now, I’ve been adding a special bonus question to my small business chat update posts: what would you like to ask other business owners? There have been some great questions and some lovely answers, too. Here I pull together some of the good ones and I bet a good few of my readers have some answers to them, whether you currently run a business, have been a freelancer or hang out with the self-employed crew – why not click on the link, go to the comments and add your answer?

Managing, growing and maintaining your business

How do we make more money … without diluting the principles that drove us to start this business in the way we did in the first place?

I’d like to know how many people use contracts with their clients and why they see them as a good idea

I’m a procrastinator. What do you do to motivate yourself and achieve things that you’d otherwise happily let slip down your to do list?

What’s the hardest part about running your business?

How are you staying up to date with changes taking place in your industry?

How do you keep the momentum going? Where do you get inspiration from to keep things fresh?

What’s the one thing you’ve done that has had the biggest impact on your everyday workday – whether it’s a strategy you employ or a piece of software you use?

Time management and work-life balance

How do you manage to maintain a healthy work/life balance? Do you have any secret tips, or links to articles or videos you can recommend?

How do you find time to do your work and also keep up with social media or other marketing tasks?

When you started out in business when did you start to take time off for holidays?

What are your tips for balancing work and family time?

How do you fit small business around a young family – especially if your baby isn’t a big day sleeper!

How do you maintain focus on your business when issues in your personal life are draining all your energy?

Have you ever thought about quitting? If so, how did you get to your ultimate decision (whether you carried on or did indeed quit) and do you feel like it was the right thing to do?

What motivated you when it seemed too difficult to continue?

Social media, advertising and lead generation

Do you feel your business gets any benefit from using Twitter?

Where do you get your leads from?

What medium of advertising to you find most useful in obtaining new customers and why?

How do you go about finding work if you’re having a quiet period?

What do you think is the most cost-effective way to get mass brand exposure to consumers?

Staff and success

What inexpensive ways are there to treat your staff?

How do you grow a team effectively and not damage the personal nature of your business?

How do you successfully delegate work? What tricks have you got for growing your business, but still retaining control?

If you were to recruit your first employee, what do you see as being the most important role you would need to recruit to move your business forward? Would it be a finance person, marketer, operations, etc.?

Miscellaneous

If you could plan the perfect week at your business what would it be like?

Are you ready to publish a book?

Seen a question that tickles your fancy, that you’re just itching to answer? Click on the link for your favourite question(s), go to the Comments and add your words of wisdom. I know the interviewee(s) you choose will be thrilled to hear from you (and I’ll display your URL by your answer, for that bit of extra exposure …)

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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How long does transcription take?

How long does transcription take?

As a busy professional transcriber, I get a large number of queries from potential clients. They often want to know how long it will take for a transcriber to do their tape, how quickly a transcriber works. So, how long does transcription take? I’ll share a few details to make it easier for people to understand the parameters.

How long does it take to transcribe a tape?

I did a quick poll among other transcribers I know, and the answer does vary, but on average, it takes 30 minutes to transcribe 10 minutes of tape. So if you have an hour-long tape, it will take me around 3 hours to transcribe it (if you try it yourself, and you’re not a professional transcriber, it’s likely to take a lot longer. If it doesn’t, consider a career change!).

What factors affect how long it takes for a tape to be transcribed?

There are various factors that will make the tape take a longer (or shorter) time to transcribe.

It takes less time to transcribe an audio file if …

  • The speakers speak really slowly and clearly
  • It’s an interview and I’m asked to only take notes on what the interviewer says

It takes more time to transcribe an audio file if …

  • There are more than two speakers
  • The speakers have strong accents
  • The tape quality is bad (muffled / quiet / picking up the background noise too much)
  • The speakers are speaking really quickly
  • There are a lot of technical terms or other details which I need to look up
  • I’ve been asked to use a complicated template or put in more than the standard number of time stamps

That’s why I and other transcribers tend to charge extra for additional speakers, extra time stamps and ‘difficult’ tapes

How long does it REALLY take a transcriber to type out an audio file?

What people sometimes forget – both transcribers when quoting for work and clients when asking for quotations, is the need for rest. Typing for hours at a time can be quite brutal on the hands / shoulders / back / ears / eyes. Transcribers need to take breaks. There’s also the time for checking at the end – listening right through or at least running a spell check.

So an hour-long tape is not likely to take me exactly 3 hours; I’d say more like 3.5 to 4 hours. I try not to type for more than 7 hours a day, and I prefer not to do it late at night (though I do do it early in the morning instead).

Your transcriber might also have other projects which need to be completed before they can start yours.

All of these factors mean that you shouldn’t be surprised if you ask about an hour-long tape and find out it will take a day or 24 hours to return to you. I’m sure my fellow-transcribers like to be flexible, as I do, but there are limits to human endurance!


Hopefully this article has clarified the amount of time it might take your transcriber to transcribe your tape. Typing speed is one thing, transcription speed is another, and remember that your transcriber is human (that’s why they’re good at what they do) and needs to look after themselves.

If you’ve found this article useful, please do comment below – I always love to hear from my readers! There are sharing buttons there, too, so you can share this on whatever social media platforms you use. Thank you!

Other useful articles on this blog

How do you start a career in transcription? – are you suited for it?

The professional transcriber – the technology you need

10 top tips for transcribers – what every new transcriber needs to know

Why do you need human transcribers, anyway? – I explain why!

Keyboards, ergonomics and RSI – the risks and keeping safe

Transcribing multiple voices – hints to make it easier

Why do transcribers charge by the audio minute? – explains it all

My book, Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription is available in print and online

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2016 in Business, Transcription, Word

 

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Small business chat update – Carrie Weekes and Fran Glover

Small business chat update – Carrie Weekes and Fran Glover

I’m delighted to feature an update from my old friend Carrie Weeks and her lovely business partner Fran Glover from A Natural Undertaking, the independent undertakers. I’ve been watching them go from strength to strength since they launched exactly two years ago, in November 2014. I interviewed them in October 2015, and I can see there’s been a big change from a company less than a year old to a thriving and established (and multi-award-winning) business now. The most well-prepared new business I’ve ever come across, this was the plan for A Natural Undertaking for the year that’s just passed:

  • We want to have a higher percentage of our funerals to be from the Kings Heath and Moseley area and a higher percentage of those to be natural burials, because those are beautiful.
  • We want to be seriously considering our own premises and what those would be.
  • In parallel with the business development, we would like to be more visible and high-profile around Birmingham as facilitating the death conversation.
  • We want to make sure that we’re continuing to look after ourselves.
  • We want to bring other local companies into our network so that we can run our business within a local, sustainable supply chain.
  • We want to be making sure that people have more information and better choices about funerals for themselves and their loved ones.

All that remains now is to see how they’ve done!

Hello again, Carrie and Fran! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

We want to have a higher percentage of our funerals to be from the Kings Heath and Moseley area and a higher percentage of those to be natural burials, because those are beautiful.
We have achieved this through word of mouth and reputation and repeat business within families we have worked with, being welcomed back into the families, which is lovely. We are getting there with the natural burials: we are recommended by our local natural burial ground when there is a particular type of funeral that needs to be arranged.

We want to be seriously considering our own premises and what those would be.
We are still considering this, moving closer to fulfilling this plan and researching our options.

In parallel with the business development, we would like to be more visible and high-profile around Birmingham as facilitating the death conversation.
Carrie is the chair of Brumyodo (Brum You Only Die Once), a 45 person-strong voluntary collective that works in the community to make people aware of the options they have.

We want to make sure that we’re continuing to look after ourselves.
We have achieved this – we have had holidays and are able to have time off, and have the support in place to enable this to happen.

We want to bring other local companies into our network so that we can run our business within a local, sustainable supply chain.
We work with local caterers, florists and venues and are constantly working on making use of members of Brumyodo.

We want to be making sure that people have more information and better choices about funerals for themselves and their loved ones.
We are definitely doing this, attending the Kings Heath Street Market, having a presence at death cafes and pop up shops and distributing death wishes cards around the neighbourhood, as well as other community and awareness-raising activities.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

It’s been all about consolidating this year. We’ve been putting the support in place to allow us to have holidays and time off, backed up by other funeral directors in our network.

We have had to produce formalised policies and procedures in order to become members of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, so we have built the company ethos and culture into those at the same time as formulating them on paper.

We have increased confidence in the business model, and we are still looking at the next stage, but with that increased confidence, getting the numbers up and securing premises.

We’ve won awards, becoming Modern Funeral Director of the Year 2016, and Carrie took part in a panel discussion, “It’s Your Funeral”, at the Cheltenham Literary Festival this year.

What hasn’t changed is the service we’re able to give: high-quality, personal service, growing gradually enough that we can still do that ourselves.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

We wish we’d known it was OK to be confident about it all. We’re actively selling the service now: a year ago we were less brave.

Winning awards and getting consistently good reviews, testimonials, recommendations and repeat business within families has given us that confidence.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Trust your gut instinct, especially if you’ve set up a new business in your middle years after having a multitude of experience in other areas. Also, you can’t be the only person to experience whatever it is you’re experiencing, so share your questions and learning points within your networks.

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

How do we make more money … without diluting the principles that drove us to start this business in the way we did in the first place?

And … where do you see yourselves and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

• Hopefully with premises or further along the line to having them
• With some staff
• Maintaining momentum while giving people the same level of service and choice
• Developing new products and services, partnering with other people in the wider industry: we have lots of ideas here
• Succeeding but without losing our essential characters and business characteristics

Watch this space – there are so many exciting things going on and it’s lovely to see A Natural Undertaking growing – but slowly enough to keep things on an even plane and operating at a high quality – and developing the brand and what they’re doing. They’ve really found their niche, and I can only look forward with excitement to what will happen next. Oh, and Carrie has recently starred in my friend Verity’s FLASH project on people who were librarians in a former job role – do pop over and have a read about how she got from libraries to funerals!

You can find A Natural Undertaking online at www.anaturalundertaking.co.uk and on Facebook and Twitter. You can find out more about Brumyodo here.

Carrie Weekes or Fran Glover are available 24 / 7 on Phone: (0121) 444 0437 and Mobile: 07986 423 146 and you can email them, too.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Being kind: coopetition versus competition

Being kind: coopetition versus competition

It’s been a difficult year, with feelings, especially political ones, running high, and society seeming to fracture. There are a lot of unknowns out there, and when faced with the unknown, people tend to huddle together with the familiar, fearing or lashing out against those not of their “tribe”, whatever their tribe might be.

It’s no different with small businesses. I see a lot of people and industries that seem afraid of bonding with their competitors to offer more to customers; who see everyone in their line of business as a threat. I’m not saying that there’s more than enough work to go round; what I’m saying is that behaving kindly towards your competitors might see you doing better with your business.

Here are some tips.

Talk to your competitors; network

How do you know who to trust? I’ve found the fellow editors I trust and recommend on to through friendship groups, friends of (editing) friends on social media and networking. Even I shy away from recommending clients to unknowns, but get to know people, chat to them about your industry, help them out and let them help you. In this way, you can build up a network of people who can support you, and who you can recommend clients to.

Rather than saying no straight out, recommend on

It happens to all of us: feast and famine. If you have a lot of work on, too much to take on that extra client, why not recommend them on to a trusted colleague? They will think better of you if you find them someone to work with rather than just saying no and leaving them to get on with it. Maybe your name will pop into their mind when they have the next job.

Help the client find their best fit

If a prospect comes to you with a particular type of work that isn’t your best offering, recommend them on to someone who will be a great fit. I don’t do a lot of fiction editing now, and certainly don’t edit certain genres. I will always seek to recommend the prospect on to someone else who I know will do a better job, making it clear that this is not where my specialism lies, but making sure they know what I do. Hopefully the warm, fuzzy feeling of being sent on to someone who can help will extend over into remembering me when they have that piece of work that’s better suited to me.

Reciprocity and karma

Even if those prospects you’ve recommended on don’t come back to you, I’m pretty well certain that the person you recommended them on to will do likewise when they’re busy or confronted with something in which you excel. I know this has happened for me.

Cover clients without stealing them

A friend and I cover each other’s regular clients when one of us is on holiday (this of course means that if we meet up with each other, all hell tends to let loose …) We wouldn’t dream of stealing those clients, of poaching clients, saying, “Why don’t you stay with me now”. What a relief to know you can go on holiday – or be ill – and have someone to look after – but not steal – your regulars!

If you’re nasty about a competitor, it’s likely to backfire on you

I’ve seen a few examples of either direct nastiness about a competitor’s services or people scoring points in industry forums. What I’ll say here is that if a potential customer or partner sees that kind of behaviour, I think they’re going to be much less likely to buy from you, and would be less likely to recommend you to others. If we’re in the same industry, I wouldn’t be inclined to pass work on to you.

This goes for being nasty about customers, too

Yes, we all need to let off steam, and have private places to do that. If you’re rude about a customer in public, you may well make people wonder how discreet you’re going to be about any work you do for them (what if they needed to do a return after a genuine problem?) and I’d have concerns about anyone I’d send over to you.

Be kind. Work with people not against them. Help others out.

That’s it, really. It’s just my thoughts, gleaned from 7 years in business working out how it all works: it’s called coopetition when people cooperate and work together rather than in conflict. I’ve felt happier and more comfortable working in this way, and I also know that people will recommend clients over to me and I can take the odd holiday!

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Business, Ethics

 

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Small business chat update – Tammy Ditmore

Small business chat update – Tammy Ditmore

Welcome to another Small Business Chat update from over the ocean! I’m delighted to be able to feature fellow-editor, Tammy Ditmore again this year. Tammy’s business is called eDitmore Editorial Services. We first met Tammy in June 2012, and she updated us on her progress in June 2013, August 2014 and September 2015. She’s had a bit of a tricky year, with some unexpected events, so I’m really glad she’s been able to sit down and go through my questions and let us know how she’s doing. When I asked Tammy about her future plans last September, she had this to say: “I’m looking forward to this year. I’m headed into it with some renewed energy and ideas, and I anticipate having more time this year to concentrate on developing some new opportunities. I’m co-hosting a webinar on editing soon (this is airing live on September 30 and will be available for replays after then: follow this link for information), and I’m going to be on an editing panel at a writer’s conference in November. I’m talking with some potential clients about doing more writing, and I’m learning a new program (InCopy) for another client. By this time next year, I hope I will have some solid writing projects along with my editing projects. And I may even begin offering some consulting services this year; I’ve been doing more and more of that informally, so I’m thinking about how I could make that a part of my business services.” Let’s see how her year has gone.

Hello again, Tammy. Lovely to feature you, as always. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not really. It’s been a turbulent year, to tell you the truth, in my business and in my family life. There’s been good and bad in both, including a death, a wedding, health issues, a fascinating book project, and a couple of working arrangements that did not work out as expected. Every time I think life is about to settle into a routine, something unexpected crops up. I did try a couple of very different work arrangements this year that I had expected to involve more writing, but neither wound up working out very well in the long run. One very intense book project kept me busy for months as I wound up doing a combination of developmental editing, copy editing, and project management. I loved the job and the author, but I was so busy that I stopped doing routine marketing and communication tasks such as blogging. I feel like it is taking me a long time to get back in rhythm. The good news is that I have not been without work for any extended time, but I’m not always sure where the next job is coming from, which is still unsettling to me.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

My workload changed early in the year toward shorter, day-to-day projects for a few months. But I soon realized that I prefer working on books and other longer-term projects, so I’ve moved back toward those types of projects. So I guess things both changed and stayed the same!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

See previous question! For a while this year, I worked with an organization that needed almost daily editing of shorter pieces; I enjoyed it for a while, but it became tiring to feel like I was always on call. If I had known this a year ago, I could have avoided what became a very uncomfortable situation.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Don’t be afraid to try new types of jobs or new ways of working. At the same time, don’t be afraid to walk away from situations that don’t work out for you!

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?
How do you find time to do your work and also keep up with social media or other marketing tasks?

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I really hesitate to answer this question. I am once again reconsidering what kinds of clients I really want to work with and how to attract those clients. So let’s just say that I hope I will continue to be busy and continue to have opportunities to do work that I enjoy.

I’m always particularly interested in what other editors are up to, and the different things they get up to outside of straight editing (although even that has so many varieties that you almost never meet two people who do exactly the same kind of work). I love Tammy’s tip about trying new working practices and learning what kind of working style you like to be involved in. I, too, have moved away from having too many “need it right now” clients to a mix of medium and larger projects, often pre-booked. I do have a couple of clients I still do small jobs for on the day, but it all fits together in a way that isn’t too frenetic. No one really wants to be frenetic, do they? I wish Tammy the best for an interesting – but not TOO interesting, perhaps – year working on jobs that she enjoys and with some predictability.

Tammy’s website is at www.editmore.com and you can of course contact her by email. She’s based in Califormia.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2016 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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