Getting Started for Authors Tip: How to Use Transcription to Supplement Your Writing

The 31 Days of Author Tips features the advice from Jenn Grace and other authors, publishers, and people in the writing industry. From hearing Publish Your Purpose Press Founder and CEO,  Jenn T. Grace, you’ll learn the basics of the writing process as well as more intricate details and tips not found anywhere else. You’ll learn how to be better prepared when you set out to write your story. Whether you are writing a memoir or any non-fiction where a piece of your story is shared, you’ll be better equipped for success after having listened to these tips.

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Author Tip Transcript

Guest Tipster: Fern Pessin, Manuscript Strategist

For people that have great ideas but are challenged about how to write (“my writing makes no sense”) or turn content (research, thoughts, notes) into a document, or are challenged by grammar and syntax and technical aspects, dictating the content via storytelling into a recording and then having the stories transcribed and edited, can fill a manuscript.

Transcribing options:

  • Word for Word – literal translation including all the pauses and connectors (uhm, so, like, and, etc.) as they were spoken
  • Edited content – removes extraneous chatter, irrelevant points, side comments, and connector words
  • Overall content – the gist of the message put into paragraph or bullet point format without focusing on every word from the speaker(s)

Content to be transcribed might come from an audio tape, video podcasts, Facebook live sessions, public speaking, YouTube instructional videos, webinars, webcasts, meetings that were recorded, etc. Content does not need to be placed in a manuscript in entirety in one single chapter. Content can be divided up, broken down, and placed within the book in various sections. Content that might not fit within the chapter narrative, might be used:

  • As anecdotes to supplement technical information
  • As experts to support content and research
  • Placed in a workbook
  • Used in an article that helps promote the finished book
  • In a blog to bring people to author’s website
  • Put into a list of tips that can be distributed as a marketing tool, a handout, create a pitch to speak or train or consult, education program, employee manual, etc.

If you, the author, have no time to write, you can tell your story while driving, or commuting, etc., via recording app on a smartphone. The author might record the story while relating it to someone else. These recordings can then be transcribed and the result becomes written and editable content.

Advice: DO NOT listen to your own recording. No good comes from criticizing the sound of your own voice!

Tips to find and work with transcriptionist:

  • Find someone online via search for “transcriptionist”
  • Finding someone that specializes in your field is helpful if you have technical information where familiarity with the language can help ensure correct spelling
  • Find someone with your own spoken language background if you have a heavy accent
  • Talk to other writers and ask for referrals
  • Ask your publisher or editor for referrals
  • You can use “Rev” or other automated systems that translate the recording digitally, but they often don’t edit or transcribe accurately because they may not understand subtlety or nuance, accents, etc.
  • Low budget option: Google’s talk to text, or the Dictate function in your word program (on a Mac) allow you to speak your content which is transcribed electronically into an editable document. (Caution: Be very attentive to editing this content as computers auto-correct and things can wind up making no sense!)

Be sure to set your terms before beginning:

  • How fast do you need to get it to them
  • How fast will they return the content to you
  • Do they transcribe literally only or can they edit in your voice
  • Do they edit for typos and errors and to make sure content is logical

Content can be submitted back to you formatted as a word document or specifically designed and edited for use in a blog, on your website, in a manuscript within the general content or for use as a sidebar, as an article for magazine or newsletter, or for reference (i.e. in footnotes or addendum.) You might include content into a speaking presentation or support for meeting presentation. Finding a general transcriptionist or someone that edits and writes as well can determine which format is possible. Your personal style will come through once a transcriptionist/ghost writer has spent time getting to know your “voice” and “style”.

Transcriptionists are compensated in a variety of ways:

  • By the hour (for either the length of the recording or the time it takes to transcribe)
  • By the project
  • Based on Deadline/Urgency

Benefits of Transcription: 

  • Transcribed content on a website is better for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  • Offering visual, auditory and written learning options reaches more people in the way they prefer to learn and absorb information.
  • Some people can read on a train instead of listening and watching (privacy) and for speed – faster to read than listen
  • Some people prefer to skim read to find what they are looking for and having transcribed podcast makes content more accessible
  • Printed material can be passed around, shared and forwarded
  • Transcribing material from presentations given, allows the writer to include the information from the person that introduced the speaker, questions from the audience and the answers, content from co-presenters, etc.; information that would be lost if only presentation materials were put into manuscript content
  • Once content is on your computer in word format (for example) you can set your desktop search function to look for key words in the content to pull up that document
  • Use content for FAQ sections on your website

Download the Book Cost Blueprint

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Regardless of where you are searching on the Internet you are going to find major discrepancies in the price of services. On one website you’ll see to expect to pay $5 for a book cover and on another website you’ll see $5,000. These ranges can be utterly overwhelming and stop a new author dead in their tracks from proceeding forward.

The information in this guide is based on the cost of producing your book going down a self-publishing path. These numbers are based entirely on our personal experience in helping dozens of authors navigate this space.

If you are still looking for help after reading this guide contact us at [email protected]

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