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?



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


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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


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


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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!


Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Business, Ethics