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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Should I use an editor before submitting to agents and publishers? A reblog

My wonderfully experienced and knowledgeable colleague, Louise Harnby, has written the perfect article about the issues around authors using editors before submitting to agents or publishers. It has loads of information for both editors and writers and will help writers to decide what process to use and editors to decide whether to take on projects.

Editing prior to submission: First principles
Here are four things that writers and editors should be mindful of at the outset:

  • Not all editors are the same: editors have different skill sets and specialisms.
  • Not all authors are the same: writers have different budgets, goals and preferences.
  • Opinion abounds about whether writers should hire editors. And while there isn’t  consensus, some overarching good-sense guidance prevails.
  • Right/wrong or yes/no isn’t the best approach. Instead, I recommend that writers make informed decisions based on a solid understanding of editorial process, and that editors make informed decisions based on professional integrity and a solid understanding of authorial intention … Read more

I strongly urge you to read the rest of Louise’s article here.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Everyday or every day?

Everyday or every day?

It’s Troublesome Pairs time and this one was suggested by my friend Greg, who had spotted a whole record label which might need some proofreaders.

I need to stress here that he shared it out of interest and as an example of a troublesome pair I hadn’t yet covered, and he knows I would never laugh at an error (unless I made it) because I’m here to help people express themselves. I will often have more experience of the rules and usage of English than the people who come to me for my editing and proofreading services, and more experience of the rules and usage of British English than the people who come to me for my localisation services, but that doesn’t make me in any way “better” than them. I really hate it when people talk about “grammar nazis” and think I will tut and frown if I see an error in a comment or on a sign, although I’m all for educating people and showing them how these distinctions I make in this series of articles help people to get their meaning across more clearly. But I try not to laugh or point, as it’s not my style (and isn’t the style of most of my edibuddies, either).

Anyway, rant over.

Everyday is an adjective or noun referring to the mundane, the usual, things that happen, well, every day. So “We expect you to carry out everyday tasks with cheerfulness and efficiency”. “I got sick of the everyday and wanted to try something different and more varied”.

Every day is a phrase which means “on all days”, “each day”. So, “I expect you to check the visitor numbers every day”, “Every day, my everyday jobs became more dull”.

It’s often used incorrectly on signs, etc, “New offers everyday”, but I’ve not seen the reverse used incorrectly.

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2017 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs

 

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What information does my localiser or localizer need?

I’ve written about setting expectations with service providers and I’ve explained what your editor needs to know here, and transcribers here – now it’s the turn of localisation services (or localization providers).

What is localisation / localization?

I have talked about what localisation is in this article, and about careers in the area here.

In brief, localisation involves turning one variant of a language into another variant of that language. For example, text written in Portugal might be localised for Brazilian Portuguese, text published in France localised into Canadian French. In my case, I work from US (or other non-UK) English into UK English.

Some quick characteristics of localisation:

  • It’s not just a question of changing spellings, although that’s obviously important – grammar and particularly punctuation can be very different in US and UK English.
  • While -z- spellings are “allowed” in the Oxford variety of English, I have to be careful not to use this style, as my clients like to see the text “looking British”, even if they’re not expert in what that means, and that means -s- spellings all round!
  • Sometimes quite complicated cultural issues need to be unpicked and changed – for example references to sports that are very common in the US, even in metaphors, often don’t translate well for British readers.
  • These cultural differences can be even more wide-ranging: for example, I have been asked to localise for “all parts of the English-speaking world” and therefore having to use pretty bland and universal terms and references.
  • Sometimes the original text has errors and I might need to alert the client to those.
  • You have to be open to using lots of different systems for this work: I might be presented with a document in Word, Excel, output from a translation tool in weird columns, or translation software.
  • You have to be aware, like translators, that there is sometimes only a small amount of space for the text – the localised text might need to conform to a particular character length or space, and that can be difficult as UK words are often longer than their US counterparts.
  • You have to be aware of what NOT to localise, e.g. the US Department of Defense would be spelled like that, as would the World Health Organization, because those are their official titles.
  • Really, you have to be experienced in the other culture and language as well as your own: I got into this because I used to work for the UK office of an American company, so was used to the differences between the languages and had written business communications in both variants.
  • Like translators, you should never localise out of your mother tongue into the other variant, unless you are truly bilingual.

Who needs localisation?

All of my localisation work comes through third-party agencies rather than directly. These will be translation or editing agencies which have clients around the world. Therefore all the advice I have given about agencies in my original article applies here, too.

Sometimes, localisation is combined with another skill such as editing or keyword insertion for SEO (search engine optimisation) purposes. Clients should expect to pay extra for combined services, as they involve the service provider concentrating on more than one service. Not everyone can offer this, either!

What does your localiser need to know in advance?

Your localization service provider will need to know in advance:

  • How big is the project (word count)?
  • Which language variant is it from / to (this means they can let you know if they don’t offer that language pair)?
  • What format is the work in (Word, Excel, a file to open in a standard translation software programme / in a web-bases proprietary or general programme)?
  • What is the topic (I once worked on a football (soccer) game’s text and spent a lot of time looking things up and asking people questions …)?
  • Is this just localisation or do you need editing services or another service like keyword insertion?
  • Are there special conditions, for example, needing to fit the text to a particular length?
  • The usual information on when the text will be ready and the deadline

 

If you work for an agency, you also need to provide this information, to be fair on the localiser

  • Is the job a quotation or a guaranteed job?
  • When you will know whether you have succeeded in getting the job

… and then let the localiser know whether or not you have succeeded in getting the job, so they can stop saving space in their schedule for it.

Why does my localizer need all this information?

Your localiser needs this information because without it they can’t give you an accurate and fair price and turnaround quotation.

For example, if you contact me to say you have 10,000 words of localisation to be done and you think it’s in a Word document …

  • If it turns out to be in proprietary software that I need to learn, I will need to put aside a few hours (at least) to learn how to use the software
  • If the text needs to be edited as well as localised, that’s two processes, will take me longer, and will cost more

The more information that you can give your localiser / localizer before they quote for you, the more accurate their quotation will be, and the more likely they are to be able to do the job once they’ve committed to it initially.


In this article, I’ve discussed what information your localiser or localization service needs before they can prepare a quotation and let you know if they can do a job. I’ve also probably annoyed you with my inconsistent spellings – but short of writing two entirely differently worded articles for US and UK searchers, this is what I have to do to be found by people who might find this article useful!

I hope you’ve found this useful – do hit the share buttons or comment if you have!

Other useful articles on this blog

Setting expectations with your service provider

Working with an editor 1: Asking for a quote

Working with an editor 2: Negotiating and booking in

What information does my transcriber need?

What is localisation?

Careers in localisation

 

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Business, Localisation

 

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What information does my transcriber need?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about setting expectations with service providers and how to make sure you’re giving the person who will potentially be working for you the information they need to be able to quote for you and do the work. I promised then to add some detail about particular kinds of work that I do and what I or another person will need in order to quote and book you in. I’ve already covered what your editor needs to know here, so let’s look at transcribers.

What is transcription?

I’ve covered this in more detail in this article, but basically transcription means taking words that have been spoken and recorded on some kind of audio file and turning them into words typed on a page via a word processor. You can use transcription for many things: here are some examples of the kinds of people I’ve worked with.

  • A journalist who has interviewed a celebrity and needs to write an article based on the words on the tape
  • A journalist who has set a tape running while two people talk and wants an exact record of that conversation
  • A student who has interviewed people about their topic and needs it turned into text to study
  • An academic doing a long series of interviews for a book without the time to type them all out
  • A psychology student who has taped some practice therapy sessions and needs to analyse them
  • A student who has taped their lectures and needs to have them in writing
  • A ghostwriter who is producing a book and needs their subject’s voice captured accurately from their interviews in order to write “their” book
  • A member of the public recording their parent’s memories to turn into a printed memoir
  • A blogger who does podcast interviews and wants to produce extra content for their subscribers in the form of transcripts
  • A marketing company who has recorded people being interviewed about a product they’ve tried and needs to provide quotations and feedback to their client
  • A marketing company who has recorded interviews with a client from which to produce content for their marketing materials
  • A financial company that does monthly dial-in phone calls and needs a record of what they and their clients said
  • A translation company hired to produce a printed record of an entire conference

Other common transcription tasks which I don’t provide myself:

  • Medical transcription – typing up dictated letters from consultants, etc.
  • Legal transcription – typing up records of interviews with defendants, etc.

What does your transcriber need to know in advance?

So there are lots of reasons to use a transcriber: what do they need to know before they can give you a quotation (if you’re a new client) or book you in:

  • How long is your audio file (in minutes)? This is really important for setting expectations. It takes me an average of three hours to transcribe one hour of audio. And I’m quite fast. This can change dramatically (I’ve written about that here).
  • Have you got the audio ready to send over to me now?
  • What is your deadline (see the first point. I have to have enough time to a) type it up at approx. three hours per hour of audio b) take rest breaks, eat and sleep. Yes, a nine-hour tape will theoretically take me 27 hours to type up, but I won’t be doing that continuously!)?
  • How many people are speaking on the tape?
  • What is the format of the recorded session (e.g. is it an interview with questions from the audience at the end, a focus group, your own thoughts spoken into a microphone)?
  • What is the general topic of the session (very important if it’s medical or legal, as some people (e.g. me) don’t have the specialist training to work on such topics)?
  • Is there any content that might offend or upset the transcriber (some agencies won’t deal with swear words, apparently; some people don’t like drunk people talking about drugs; I like to be warned of any descriptions of violence or cruelty and might turn extreme content down)
  • Are the speakers native English speakers (I specialise in non-native English speakers; some people don’t have experience working with accents and potentially non-standard English)?
  • What type of transcription do you require – verbatim, tidied, rewritten (see my post about this here)
  • Do you require the transcriber to type the transcription into a template? If so please provide a copy.
  • What time-stamping do you require (see below)?

Time-stamping

This is a big topic as it can really alter the amount of time it takes to complete a transcription. Time-stamping means inserting the time into the document at prescribed intervals. It helps you to find places in the tape or reference particular parts of the tape easily.

If you need a note of the time entered every 10 or 5 minutes, that can be done without interrupting the flow. That’s why I include these options in my basic pricing, for example.

Other options include time-stamping:

  • Every time the interviewer asks a question
  • Every time someone new starts speaking
  • Every few sentences
  • Every time someone starts a new sentence
  • Every time someone starts a new clause or part of a sentence

For the last three, it’s vital to explain what you mean and give examples, so that your transcriber produces exactly what you want. If you want to have this extra level of time-stamping, be aware that this will add a lot of time to the process (it’s hard to do it automatically, especially if there’s a template to enter the information into) and will therefore add to the cost.

I work for an agency and we are doing a quotation for a client

This is often the case and that’s fine: you just need to find out all this information from your client in advance. I will ask you to do that anyway, so if you come fully equipped, that process can be done sooner.

Note that all the extra information I discussed for agencies in my original post apply here.

  • Let me know this is a quotation not a guaranteed job
  • Get the information from your potential client in advance
  • Let me know when you will know whether you have succeeded in getting the job
  • Let me know whether or not you have succeeded in getting the job

I already work with this transcriber: what do they need to know about my project?

You might already work with a transcriber, in which case you will have their pricing and terms already. However, when someone emails me to let me know they have a job for me, I still need to know the basics:

  • How long is the file (in minutes)?
  • Do you have it ready now?
  • When do you need the transcription back from me?
  • Is anything different from usual (tape quality, number of interviewees?)

Why does my transcriber need all this information?

Your transcriber needs this information because without it they can’t give you an accurate and fair price and turnaround quotation.

For example, if you contact me to say you have about an hour of tape that you need time-stamping, I am likely to reserve a three-to-four hour slot in my schedule and quote you my basic price band for a customer of your type.

  • If it turns out to be a legal transcription, I can’t do it.
  • If it turns out to be 90 minutes, that’s an extra 1.5 hours of working time for me
  • If it turns out that you need time-stamping every sentence, that will add about an hour to the time

This is why I ask for all this information up front. The more you give me initially, the more accurately I can let you know a) whether I can do it, b) how much it will cost, c) how long it will take. If you don’t give me this information until a long way down the process, in an extreme case I will have to cancel the job and leave you looking for someone else.


In this article, I’ve discussed what information your transcriber needs before they can prepare a quotation and let you know if they can do a job. Miss out information at this stage, or provide inaccurate information, and you may be disappointed.

I hope you’ve found this useful – do hit the share buttons or comment if you have!

Other useful articles on this blog

Setting expectations with your service provider

Working with an editor 1: Asking for a quote

Working with an editor 2: Negotiating and booking in

How long does transcription take?

What are the types of transcription?

Recording and sending audio files for researchers and journalists

 

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2017 in Business, Transcription

 

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Marten or martin?

This Troublesome Pair is another animal one, so it kind of goes with mink or minke and maybe even mandrel or mandrill. So, what is the difference between a marten and a martin? Well, one of them’s an animal and one of them’s a bird …

The marten is the animal – it’s the weaselly mammal that lives in the coniferous and northern deciduous forests of Europe, Asia and North America. I call them weaselly; they aren’t weasels, but they are related to weasels, mink and ferrets, as well as wolverines and badgers (I didn’t know a wolverine was a real thing. I feel a wolf or wolverine post coming on now!).  In the UK, we have pine martens in Scotland and there’s a European pine marten too, as well as a Japanese variety.

The martin, then, is the bird. The name is used for a subset of the swallow family, which are found all around the world, apart from on Antarctica. There’s a very detailed Wikipedia article about how exactly the swallows are divided up into river martins and everything else – we probably know house martins and sand martins best, but there’s a lot of them around. Apparently, house and purple martins have developed a habit of only nesting around houses and in special nesting boxes, so hardly ever nest truly in the wild any more.

So, no pine martins or house martens, please!

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2017 in Errors, Language use

 

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