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Batteries Not Included : How About Editing Copy?


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

May 8, 2007

Comments (7)

Copy editing for voice over scriptsJust how far do you need to take your added value services for clients?

Is tweaking scripts for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes a part of the business, or is that something that should be charged for in addition to the voice over work?

Share your opinions here at VOX Daily.

I love receiving story ideas.

Recently, Robin Rowan, voice talent and a prolific story idea producer, sent us this:


This happens way too often:

You accept a job from a client you've never met and all you have to go by is the lead they placed on Voices.com. Once you negotiate a price and discuss deadlines, they agree to send you the script via e-mail. When it arrives, you print it out and gasp in horror at the paper in front of you: major mis-spellings, poor grammar, run-on or incomplete sentences, improper use of words... you get the idea.

Do you:

• Call them back and tell them "No Thanks?"
• Do you set to work rewriting copy?
• Do you call and "suggest" script changes?
• Or do you cut it EXACTLY the way it's written and just be happy you got paid????


Robin Rowan, Female Voice Talent


So, what do you do at present?

Looking forward to hearing about how you handle these scripting inconveniences!

Let the comments roll :)


©©©iStockphoto.com/Raf Croonen


    1) Clarify that this is the "final" script.
    2) Read it as is.
    3) Enjoy the rewards of getting paid for pickups when they hear how bad their grammar is!

    Posted by:

      I would always contact the client, advise them of any obvious errors, suggest changes and probably wouldn't charge them in hopes of building future business. (They might hire you to write the copy next time for a fee).

      Posted by:
      • Barney Conway
      • May 8, 2007 9:27 PM

        I like to approach my jobs by going the extra mile and provide outstanding customer service to my clients. My experience has been that clients appreciate it and it earns me respect for being a true professional.

        I quickly look over a script and fix any misspelled words so I don't trip over them when I read. I consider this as part of my job. You could also run it through MS Word's spell check if you want to save time.

        Since I often deal with translated scripts (and the translations can occasionally make one raise an eyebrow) I will email the client with suggestions to change the wording to something more appropriate. I always ask permission because the approval process in some cases can be extensive and subject to legal approval - so I never, ever change a script unless I know I have liberty to do so. Should the changes be extensive, I will add this to my fee if I'm working on an hourly basis. If working on a flat rate quote, I will request approval from the client first.

        With that said, I never record a "bad script". If I were the client and received a recorded script with errors in it (even if the errors were in the script), I would hesitate hiring that talent again. If the script is littered with errors, then I would speak with the client first and ask them to either send me a corrected script or offer to do it myself for an additional charge before even beginning to work on the project.

        You should care enough about your work to deliver quality.

        Just my .02


        Posted by:

          I always look scripts over before hitting the booth. But for things I don't catch and ask about beforehand, I record their way, and the way I think it should be. This saves me time in the long run, and keeps the audio even more consistent if I have to make changes later.

          Having good communication with the client is always key, and usually they appreciate me bringing these issues to their attention upfront. If I don't charge them for it now, I usually get paid down the road in the form of return work and referrals!

          Posted by:


            Sometimes the client is from overseas, and delivers a script that's been translated for English-speakers and doesn't have correct idiomatic phrasing, etc. In any case I'll usually alert the client and ask if I can make some small revisions to make it more "conversational".

            HOWEVER.... If the script requires brain surgery, I'll toss it back to the client, politely and professionally, of course, and ask them to review for syntax, typos, etc.

            The client usually appreciates the courtesy.

            Thanks for listening...

            Best, Bobbin

            Posted by:

              Thanks to everyone who has posted on this subject. It seems more and more clients are writing their own copy instead of letting a real copywriter do it to save money. It never does save money because the copy is so poorly written (in many cases), the message is not at all compelling and sometimes barely readable. You have to be very careful with how you handle this situation because you could be labeled someone who is hard to work with, and even with the mistakes, the client will tell you the copy has been "approved" and you must cut it exactly that way.

              It is YOUR VOICE on that bad copy; the listener may or may not hear the mistake(s), but those that do may associate that poor copy with your voice!

              I have returned copy (a client who I've done work with for years) and I have rewritten copy (a client who uses its videographers and editors as writers and 'creatives'), all without charge (for now). These are clients who provide me with lots of work, and sometimes the employees are asked to do so much they can barely keep up with deadlines. So I help them out, and I know it is appreciated.

              If you do that, though, make sure you know the PROPER grammar, spelling, etc!!

              Posted by:
              • Robin Rowan
              • May 9, 2007 12:08 PM

                I review the entire script and if any grammatical errors, run-on sentences, doesn't look correct visually, I email or phone the client and ask them to advise.

                This is done before cracking the microphone and producing the product.

                This is a two-way street and if to work together--a partnership.

                If I don't receive cooperation, a notification via email or a phone call stating "Thanks, but, no thanks" is in order.

                Bob Worthington

                Posted by:

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