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I was thinking about paying someone to type up the handwritten pages of my novel, so that I can go straight to the editing process. (I prefer first drafts to be with pencil.). This way I can juggle more projects. For some reason I assumed this specific job was a transcriptionist, but that is technically for speech. Or am I wrong? Does anyone know what service to whom I can send my handwritten pages and they will type it for a fee?

(I understand this may have been asked; I looked but did not find my exact query. My apologies in advance for such an underwhelming question.)

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    Do you just want a typist? – S. Mitchell Jan 5 '18 at 17:08
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    Actually these days voice recognition software to convert speech to text is the vogue among authors. – Bookeater Jan 5 '18 at 19:44
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    Invest in a multipage scanner to scan the pages in as a pdf or image and then i believe microsoft office has ways to pull text images of handwritten documents. Might be able to avoid hiring a guy if you google and see if any free software for that exists for pdfs. Plus, you only have to pay for such a scanner once. An employee would require at least a week to hand type it so either way they are probably in the same price range. – The Great Duck Jan 6 '18 at 8:25
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    The name of the person you're looking for is a typist. It's okay to hire someone to work from your penciled pages and not make yourself use other tech. The problem with speech to text is it gets a lot wrong and you might not be able to figure out what you meant to say when checking it later. – Cyn says make Monica whole Nov 22 '18 at 16:34
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I'm used to calling the person who converts handwritten documents into (digital or ink on paper) typed manuscript a typist. They used to be a lot more common; large offices would have a "typing pool" from which, in rotation, typists would be summoned to type a job (such as producing a fair copy of a revised document, making a first draft from a handwritten original, and even just making a copy, before photocopy technology).

Most of those jobs are obsolete now, replaced by technology (word processing, xerography, etc.), but converting handwritten to (digital) typed is still the job of a typist.

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It seems to me you are looking for a scribe or scrivener. Historically, this job description was for copying from hand to hand, but it mostly has been replaced by digital formats.

Currently, hand-to-hand transcriptions are performed by rabbinical students in producing a new Torah. (The clever ones memorize the Pentateuch in doing so.)

Scribe: a person who copies out documents, especially one employed to do this before printing was invented. [Merriam-Webster's]

Personally, I feel you would be well-suited for doing this work yourself. Third drafts are typical, even before electronic media.

Similarly, you might be looking for a transcriptionist.

Transcriprionist: [One who performs] the action or process of transcribing something; e.g. The funding covers transcription of nearly illegible photocopies. [Merriam-Webster's]

This was very common in the '90s with medical records being transcribed from their original handwritten forms into a computerized medical records system.

A Google search revealed I have 3 transcription services within 6 miles of my home.

  • +1 to transcriptionist, since "trans-scribe" is exactly what OP is asking for. – RonJohn Jan 6 '18 at 5:04
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I'm personally fond of the term amanuensis, and while I hardly ever get to use it, this sounds like the perfect legitimate need:

A person employed to write or type what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another

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If you require a human to type your work, then I'd say a scribe, though that may be archaic.

Nowadays, a computer paired with a particular software may be faster and cheaper. These are called Optical Character Recognition, or OCR for short. Simply upload scanned images of your work, and the program will do the rest.

There are plenty of free software that work well (enough for a student). You may want to consider the priced ones, which cost anywhere from $50-200, but will work better.

I recommend googling some options and looking for a free trial to test that your handwriting is neat enough :)

  • I like this answer. However, it also depends on whether the OP erases versus crosses out and to what degree of editing punctuation is expected. – Stu W Jan 6 '18 at 3:41
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    @Stu W true but if you get a special scanner you can scan in all the pages in less than an hour and then just read through to correct any formatting issues. After all, there is thing called grammar check and scrolling through 300 pages shouldnt take more than an hour or two if you are efficient. – The Great Duck Jan 6 '18 at 8:23
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    There is no such thing as grammar check if you’re a stylist. Run some experimental authors’ famous works through a grammar check: watch what happens. – August Canaille Jan 6 '18 at 17:28
  • @AugustCanaille OCR just recognises characters/words. It will not edit your grammar. I think Typhon was referring to grammar check on a word processor. – AmourK Jan 6 '18 at 18:27
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As someone who prefers to write the first draft by hand I know how you're feeling.

You could try looking on Fiverr for someone who can type up your manuscript. Something I've tried in the past was the Livescribe 3 Pen. Somehow I lost the pen I had, but it worked half decently, the downside was it's not-so-great app,but it's abeen a few years so it might have improved. It might be worth looking into smartpens that will speed up this step of your process.

Something I have noticed with having to type up a draft written by hand, is that I catch more mistakes (plot holes, typos and misused words) as I'm going and can fix them. So by the time I've typed up a draft it's a bit cleaner and I can focus on other areas like character/ setting development in the next revision. This is just part of my process, but it might be something to consider when you're researching options.

Hope this helps :)

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