One of the unwritten rules of writing a book, an article, or any sort of material that requires the writer to interview experts or people "in the know" is to record the conversation. Whether the recording occurs via phone or in person is irrelevant. This rule is a good one.

This leads to the following questions:

* Do you transcribe every recording?

* Who owns the transcription?

The answer to these questions does have an "it depends" so let me explain. It depends on your state's or countries laws on the recording issue. It depends on the how much you are being paid for the project. It depends on whether you can use the interview notes more than once. It depends whether you are using interviewing as an escape -- a procrastination technique because you enjoy that interview process more than the writing.

Okay, we got the "it depends" listed and out of the way. Let me provide a few of my secrets -- the things I have learned as a writer and interviewer over the last many years.

Secret 1: Just because you recorded the conversation doesn't mean you have to transcribe the recording. You can use the recording as a safety net for reviews.

Secret 2: You don't need to transcribe the whole recording. Many times all you need are the important areas.

Secret 3: Audio tapes, CD-Rs and CD-RW’s are cheap, buy plenty instead of reusing them. Keep them for a few years.

Secret 4: It is important to keep them indexed and organized in some fashion. Create a recording master finding system. Microsoft Excel is a great way to track with a simple number or code system. I recommend that you include the year somewhere in the code. Color coding adds visual effectiveness. There are a great many items, like colored dots of various sizes available at most office supplies, even hardware, stores.

Secret 5: The storage container where you store the tapes and CD’s are important as to how long they last. Heat, dust, and moisture destroy their quality. Find small, thin,plastic containers with a tight seal with a one-layer depth for audio cassettes. Store CD’s upright and not flat.

Secret 6: Be very careful of placing them near any magnets. In case you didn't know, many phones have magnets inside them. Do not place a magnet anywhere near any recorded material. If you have a magnetic paperclip holder on your desk, move it far enough away so you can't possibly forget and lay it next to it. Some Palm Pilots and cell phones have magnets too. I know of a speaker who had his Power Point presentation on a CD in his pocket along with his cell phone. When he arrived to do his presentation the CD was wiped clean.

Secret 7: Use rubber bands to consolidate audio cassettes by project or topic but be careful not to wrap them vertically over the open part of the tape. Wrap them horizontally or keep them in their case. FYI, after a few years, rubber bands dry out and become brittle and will snap. I also suggest using saran wrap around the group whether it’s audio cassettes, CDs or DVDs.

Secret 8: Delegate the transcription task, it always cheaper either in dollars or patience. Place an ad at the local college or place an RFP on I have found several through the Business Centers at high schools and community centers at a big savings. If the interview is rare or precious, hire a professional service and pay the higher rate. Have at least 10 ways you can get a tape transcribed reasonably and fast at your disposal. You can always try the Yellow Pages online or in paper form,however, you will find that the rates are usually much
higher. Rate each one on their turn around speed, typing speed, and of course fee. Check out their references before you need them. Some may even do a sample for you. Consider using FedEx to deliver and pick up the tapes, for safety, and to save time. I never recommend sending the recording out of your country to save money.

Secret 9: Do not sign a contract, ever, if they have a clause in their contract that reads something along the lines of,"Transcripts are the possession of the transcriber -- doesn't hire them. If the publisher is providing the transcriptionist and paying for you to do the interview and their contract reads, "All notes, tapes, materials and transcripts must be turned over to the publisher." You will probably have to comply. If not, don't agree to this. If the publisher is paying for the transcription and your time separately for the interview, they are yours. However, it’s best to check with an attorney that is familiar with your state/country laws to answer this question accurately.

Secret 10: Prepare the questions ahead of time and stick to them. Preparation saves time all around. If you are not sure what questions to ask, ask the publisher what questions do they want to have answered when they give you the assignment. It is a good procedure to provide the questions before hand to the interviewee. This helps them prepare. If they read from their typed notes then ask different questions or drift away with a new question and then return. They will usually stop reading, think, and not return to their notes.

Secret 11: If you are a fast typist and love transcribing the interviews, don't fret about capturing everything. Usually 75% will do. Leave out repetitious information and use keyboard shorthand whenever possible. For example: Use a single cap letter for their name, as long as it isn't "A". After the call, review your notes immediately and writing down any shorthand codes you used. Use "find and replace" to transition the abbreviations. If you are going to type as you interview, inform the interviewee that you will be doing this. Don't ask for permission, just state that you will. You can use something along the line of "I hope you don't mind, I'm a fast typist so I prefer to type my notes as we talk."

Author's Bio: 

Catherine Franz is a Marketing, Writing and Master Attraction Coach. She helps independent professionals and small business owners who want to attract more revenue. She conducts workshops, teleprogram on marketing, nonfiction writing, and the Law of Attraction. Catherine is a International, columnist, syndicated radio talk show host and producer of a two television shows. and