Re: The client sales pitch

Subject: Re: The client sales pitch
From: Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2017 08:29:56 -0500

Thanks for the list, Peter. It's a good start and I may use a variant.
Additional inputs welcome.

An average chapter takes me around 7â8 hours to mark up the way that has
been requested by the client. It's slow going using this method, to be
sure. There are eight chapters, plus a few appendices.

To add to this odd situation, before the holiday break my handler told me
she'd be cutting what amounts to a five-figure PO (I didn't express my
surprise). For this I'm only supposed to perform what she calls a "light
edit," a term that she has not defined according to her standards (whatever
those are).

I'm sensing that my handler is newly-installed as the certified PM, is
obviously overworked/unorganized (read: running around like a headless
chicken), spends way too much time in endless meetings, and does not have
any idea as to the degree of authority she has to make decisions (and seems
afraid to ask).

I've wanted to go over her head but have restrained myself from doing so,
instead playing the "wait and see" game. As my calendar is pretty much free
at the moment (and a diff. large project coming in next week), meanwhile
I'm continuing to make comprehensive edits to this abhorrent POSâacting on
good faith that all will somehow turn out well in the end.

Chris Morton



â Substantive Editing â Technical Writing â Proofreading
â Marketing Expertise â Mentoring
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On Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 7:26 AM, Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
wrote:

> I have this mental image of Sisyphus pushing on a string.
>
> My wife has encountered a similar situation in chemical QA when asked to
> give a result "this afternoon" for a test that has a (chemical reaction)
> run time of three days. She says it's related to the old wisdom, "You say
> you want it fast, good, and cheap. Pick one or two. You'll never get all
> three."
>
> She recommends giving a bullet list of possible outcomes.
>
> Shall we:
> - Fix the English-language to be readable by the prospective customer?
> - Make the material technically correct?
> - Make the text and illustrations match?
> - Prepare to work with the translation team?
> - Just send the whole thing out pretty much as is?
> - Test the "as is" version on prospective customers to see if it has a
> negative effect?
> - Supply no user manual at all, based on the assumption that nobody reads
> it anyway?
> - Create a simple two-page "read this first" that ships instead of the
> manual?
> - (Other possibilities that you can suggest.)
>
> Tell them, "Choose one. Put the rest in priority order."
>
> If queried about why you think the job is impossible, you might break it
> down into pages-per-day of the full set of desired changes. I'm thinking
> you might get one page done per day, but perhaps you're really good (we
> know you are!) and it could be two pages. (We know you're not as good as
> the one-page-per-15-minutes that you're facing now. And that's not even
> including making sure it's actually correct.)
>
> On Wed, 04 Jan 2017 06:38:50 -0500, Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
> wrote:
>
> Hi All,
>>
>> I have a new client that produces very expensive hardware/software
>> products
>> in the global medical realm. The company is young and angel-funded.
>>
>> As if I was coming on full-time, I was interviewed for this position
>> quasi-extensively, and then had to sign off on its employee handbook. All
>> this to say that it conveys to me that the company has never worked with
>> contractors in this capacity before. My handler is an overworked PM who
>> barely has time to disseminate clear instructions to me.
>>
>> Here's the assignment: edit an updated 151-pg. user manual by mid-January,
>> taking into account that the translation house needs unavailable
>> additional
>> time to translate the work for the EU and Turkey. I'm having to edit using
>> text callouts in Acrobat Proâan extremely tedious process if you can
>> imagine (mostly because of the spasmodic behavior of the callouts when one
>> attempts to finesse them *just so*). I'm halfway done and cannot get the
>> PM
>>
>> to provide me adequate feedback and now she is on leave until the 11th
>> attending to a family matter. I do not have permission to reach out to
>> anyone else.
>>
>> The problem is that the original manual was likely created by an ESL, so
>> it's not written in common English as Americans know it. There are no
>> pronouns used, for example, and almost every sentence is written in
>> passive
>> tense. "The operator" is repeatedly referred to as such, as if it's an
>> abstract, impersonal thing; never is "you" placed in an instruction.
>> Whoever laid out the manual in InDesign doesn't know the first thing about
>> professional typesetting and layout; it shows. An instruction will appear
>> on one page, with the accompanying illustration on the next. New sections
>> don't begin at the top of a new page, but start willy-nilly at any page
>> location. In short, it's the most unprofessional example of a user manual
>> I've come across in my entire 25-year career.
>>
>> I'm looking for some pre-existing verbiage from somewhere that explains
>> why a company's image can be irreparably damaged by publishing and
>> distributing
>> such junk. For example, imagine buying a McLaren and receiving an owner's
>> manual written by a grade school kid and published on the same sort of
>> thin
>> paper as many Bibles are printed on. While you've read and heard (and
>> watched) all about McLaren's exceptional engineering, the manual causes
>> you to at least raise an eyebrow, if not remark "WTF."
>>
>> I know that it's not my decision, but I wouldn't begin to approve release
>> of the company's updated whizbang with the manual being in its present
>> shape. How can I convince them to take an extra week or so to at least
>> accept my edits (the INDD reformatting coming at a later date)? BTW, I've
>> already researched another translation house that has the bandwidth to
>> crank out my heavily-edited version.
>>
>> Oh, and this isn't about my billing (yet). It's more about determining
>> what
>> is acceptable from the perspective of the company's own branding and
>> outside perception.
>>
>
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References:
The client sales pitch: From: Chris Morton
Re: The client sales pitch: From: Peter Neilson

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