Category Archive: manuscript

Mar 15 2013

Proofreading Tips: Kindle and Microsoft Word’s Text-to-Speech

proofreading

While proofreading one of my blog posts for correct spelling and grammar on my Kindle, I’ve found a helpful little tool. Kindle’s text-to-speech may be under used for the reading of e-books, however, I find the feature great at finding misspelled words and misplaced punctuation.

How exactly does it help?

When you upload your file to your Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD and turn on the text-to-speech feature, by tapping the screen once and pressing the “play” button the female voice will start reading from the top of the current page. I find that following along with the voice as she reads helps find the errors easier than reading it myself. Why is this? Because you’ve written the words so you already know what it is supposed to say. So when you reread the same scene, your eyes may sometimes scan over the misspelled word and your brain computes it as the word you intended instead.

For example, I only found that I had misspelled the word “through” several times in a manuscript after reading along with the text-to-speech feature because it was only when she said it aloud did I realize I had been spelling “though” and mistakenly reading it as “through” even when reading it aloud myself (which is a well-known tip in proofreading).

Reasons why it could improve your proofreading experience

Like I mentioned above, there are many tips out there already, especially the “read your text out loud” tip. It’s a great tip, but text-to-speech takes it a step further and has someone else read it to you without literally having someone else read it to you. Here’s other ways it can improve your experience:

  • She pronounces the words exactly how it’s written, so if it’s misspelled or not as emphasized as you’d like it to be you can highlight the word or text to fix later.
  • She uses inflections at the end of sentences ending with a question mark, pauses appropriately at commas, semicolons and periods, making it easier to measure your sentence flow.
  • There’s slight variations with quotes that gives her a little personality and helps with the story flow. (Now, I argue about this “fact” with my hubby because he claims not to hear a difference while I like to think he just doesn’t notice, which would be a good thing. However, when she reads multiple back-to-back quotes without tags, we both seem to keep up with which character is talking and when. It may vary for you.)
  • She uses a slight breathy tone when reading to make it sound like a human reading and not a robot or computer-generated … but not always. This also helps with the flow and clarity.
  • Whenever you find a mistake, simply hold your finger over the word and highlight or make a note so you can return to that specific spot later and fix your error.

Some possible downsides

  • Kindle Fire HD only has one text-to-speech personality. It features a U.S. English speaking female voice only.
  • You can choose how fast or slow you want her to read, standard is at 1x but ranges from 0.7x to 4x. This could be a positive but I find it difficult to hear her pronunciation of words clearly or the inflections with punctuation if it’s set at anything beyond 1.5x, and too slow for me at 0.7x. At 0.7x her breaths seem to drag and she sounds bored, as if she’s on the brink of yawning. Not good.
  • Making a note of your error stops the reading. When pressing play, reading begins from the beginning of the page no matter where you left off.

Uploading files to your Kindle

You can email your Kindle Word and PDF files, here’s how:

  1. Find out your Kindle email address by logging into your Amazon account.
  2. Scroll down to “Digital Content” under Digital Management and click “Manage your Kindle.” It may prompt you to sign in again.
  3. On the left under Your Kindle Account click “Manage Your Devices” and it will tell you to Send to Kindle Email Address and provide you with that email. Each Kindle you own will have a different email address.
  4. Simply attach your file(s) to an email and send it to that address. Your file should appear on your Kindle within minutes if not instantly.

Activating Text-to-Speech

Now that you opened your file on your Kindle here’s how to activate the text-to-speech feature:

  1. Tap the screen and press “Aa Settings.”
  2. Tap “On” located next to Text-to-Speech.
  3. A play button will be present at the bottom of the screen on the reading progress bar when the text-to-speech feature has been activated. Press play.
  4. You can change the speed on this progress bar by pressing the 1x button and toggling the different speeds. The 1x button is located at the bottom right while the progress bar is displayed.

Microsoft Word 2013 Text-to-Speech

I think it’s best to use Kindle’s Text-to-speech feature for novel-length manuscripts or lengthy documents. For proofreading shorter works like blog posts or short stories, for instance, I’d use Word’s text-to-speech feature. Here’s how for Microsoft Word 2013:

  1. Open a blank document
  2. Under the File tab go to Options
  3. Click on the Quick Access toolbar and choose “Popular Commands”
  4. Find “Speak” and add it to your customized toolbar
  5. Save. And find it at the top of your toolbar as a quote bubble with the play button
  6. Highlight the text you want it to read and press the quote bubble

Other info you should know:

  • Kindle Paperwhite does not have the text-to-speech feature
  • Earlier Kindle versions have options to toggle between a female and male voice
  • Some e-books and some files like PDF files do not have the text-to-speech feature
  • Microsoft Word’s feature is a male voice and sounds more computer generated compared to Kindle’s feature
  • For more tips on reading on Kindle fire HD and text-to-speech visit Amazon.com help center

 

I hope you find text-to-speech a helpful feature as I do. Have you used this feature to proofread your works? How was your experience? Leave a comment below and please subscribe to my blog for more tips on proofreading and more.

Jan 23 2013

13 Unprofessional Types of People in the Writing Biz: Are You Behaving Badly?

If you’re in the book writing/publishing business and you haven’t crossed paths with at least one of the unprofessional people on my list below, you might eventually. If you’re lucky, you never will. In no particular order, here are some of the most unprofessional types of people. Don’t be one of them. Also, here’s the followup post for the 13 Most Appreciated Gestures in the Writing Biz.

  1. The vanishing critique partner
You’ve exchanged manuscripts, spent the entire weekend reading, editing and making notes, you send the manuscript back and you wait and wait and wait for your critiqued manuscript in return. You receive nothing. Don’t be this person. Time is precious to every writer and that’s something you can’t give back. Respect the writer’s time by keeping your word.
  1. The vanishing publisher
Anyone you rely upon who suddenly vanishes into thin air is probably not a professional, especially when they’re holding your royalty check and the rights to your creations. Don’t be this person. A wise thing to do is to give your authors notice that you’ll be going under long before your vanishing act. Be open and honest, answer your emails, and assure your authors that you’re handling things in the best manner. Most importantly, give them their money and their rights back pronto.
  1. The vague critique partner
You received your manuscript back with a short note. “This was awesome!” You’re thrilled that she liked it but would’ve liked a little more detail. Just a little more. Don’t be this person. If you can’t pick apart every piece of the manuscript from the first word to the last … don’t. That’s not what most authors are looking for, but we can use much more feedback than an “awesome.”
  1. The agent/editor who likes your work but still rejects it
In my humble opinion, if you decide to write a page-long letter or email raving about the manuscript you’ve just finished reading, never mention a flaw, but still reject it, I think you should at least tell the author WHY you rejected it. Don’t be this person. You of all people in the publishing business should know how frustrating it is to give false hope through a rejection letter that starts as a raving review of the manuscript and ends with “I hope you find a home for it!” Either state why it’s not for you or send a form rejection.
  1. The agent/editor/publisher who never answers your questions or delays
Deadline has passed … a week ago! You sent email after email, asking the same questions from the emails before, but this time you’re asking if they’ve even received your emails. Finally, you get a response … days before the book’s official release date! Don’t be this person. Sure, you’re an editor and a super busy one too, but you can find time to send a quick email. A brief “Got your email. Will get back to you shortly” instead of nothing at all is always appreciated.
  1. The professional who picks favorites
Jane Doe’s books are a top seller (she’s a regular commenter on your blog). John Doe edits the most books in the shortest amount of time (and you chat every day on Facebook). Mary Jane’s books are rating pretty high with readers (and her Twitter pic is pretty hot too). Go ahead and allow Jane, John and Mary to take over the publisher’s blog and reel in the readers. Sure, there’s other authors and editors who can better contribute, but … these three are your favs. Don’t be this person. Sure, it’s a business and you want the top, highest and the best, but don’t make it obvious that you have your favorites. Professionalism requires that you are fair and making the best “business” decisions. Project that.
  1. The agent/editor/publisher who talks about inappropriate matters in public
Sure, you’re human, and you go through rough patches like the rest of us, however, not everyone is interested in your bankruptcy details, your crazy sex life, or the fact that you think self-publishing and its authors should go the way of the dinosaurs. Don’t be this person. Think before you speak, especially in public. You feel secure behind a screen. It’s not like being face-to-face with a “real” person. In social media it’s easy to forget that your colleagues, employers, fans, readers, followers, etc., are witnessing what you put out and are judging you by it.
  1. The tardy blogger/staff
Your job is to update the blog every Monday. Instead it gets updated sporadically (maybe late Monday night on a good day). You’re hosting a blog tour and have a give-away scheduled for this day, instead you post it that day. Do you find yourself constantly apologizing for being late? Then this may be you. Don’t be this person. If you say you’re going to do something at a specific time, do it at that specific time. Punctuality is one of the best traits a professional possesses.
  1. The lowdown, dirty “professional”
Think it’ll be cool to try to cheat Amazon’s algorithms to raise your book’s sales ranking? Don’t see the harm in giving away copies of another author’s e-books on your blog without the author’s permission? Thinking about making a bunch of email accounts and rating and reviewing your own books online? Don’t be this person. You will lose all the respect people had for you once they realize your ways. Being lowdown and dirty especially in the publishing business is never a good look.
  1. The author/writer who never follows the guidelines/rules
You want to send your submission to your dream editor before they leave on vacation and don’t have time to look for and read the submission guidelines, so you just attach it as a DOC file and send  it to the email address you found online. Don’t be this person. Submission guidelines are there for a reason. Simply put, they make life easier for you AND the editor, and increases the chances of your submission being seen. You want to show the editor you are a gem to work with and are capable of following rules. So follow them exactly.
  1. The professionals who never follow their own guidelines/rules
Being a professional is hard work. Life is very busy. So since you made the rules you can break them at your convenience. Don’t be this person. If you want others to follow your rules practice what you preach by following your own. If you promise to respond to submissions in four weeks, then make sure you follow through. How can you expect others to put up with your rules when it’s difficult for you to?
  1. The negative/snarky/bashing reviewer
So you think the book was written by an author who couldn’t grasp the basics of high school level English, and you say so in your review. You even go a step further and accuse the author of writing their own five-star reviews of the book because “who in their right mind would like that junk?” Don’t be this person. A good reviewer reviews the book’s content, not the author. And even though you believe those terrible things about the author, you don’t look good accusing or bashing another, especially in public.
  1. The author/writer who negatively responds to negative reviews
So the reviewer claims you wrote all the five-star reviews of your latest book because the book reads like an illiterate child scribbled it down and no one else could possibly enjoy it. You think the reviewer didn’t read your book at all because in the author bio, at the end of the book, it states that you have a B.A in English, and the reviewer needs to know this. So you respond to the review and tell her. Don’t be this person. If someone didn’t like your book, they are simply stating their opinion. When you respond, you are trying to sway their opinion. It never works. When someone writes a bashing review, they look like a bully. When you respond, YOU look like a bully. Keep that in mind.
Well, there you go. The thirteen most unprofessional types of people in the writing biz and why and how not to become one. Have you encountered some of these types? Take a shot at adding to the list. Did I leave a certain type out? Could you relate? Do I ask a lot of questions? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it.