Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Author’s corrections – how can you slash your agency bill?

By Tracy Jones

One of the most hated terms in the marketing and public relations world is “author’s corrections”. We hate charging for them, our clients hate paying for them and our designers hate doing them.

Having got that off my chest, I’ll admit that they’re an inevitable and necessary part of our business. But there are ways to make them far less painful for everyone involved.

What are author’s corrections?

Author’s corrections are changes made to the instructions, the scope of the project, the text or the photos you have supplied after work has commenced.


Your agency writes a radio script. You request changes. They make the changes and you sign off on the script. This will not incur author’s corrections. However, if you continue to change the script, you may be charged additional costs. If you change the script after your agency has produced the commercial, the costs will obviously be much higher.

Your agency designs a poster. You like the design but want the logo and heading bigger. The agency makes the changes and sends it back to you. At this stage you have not been charged author’s corrections. You approve the second design, but then ask the agency to replace two of the images and change the words in the heading. This may incur author’s corrections because you have made changes to the original instructions.

Why do they cost so much?

It seems simple on the surface to change one or two words. Unfortunately, in many cases this can be a time consuming process. For example:

• If you change the words in a 30 second radio commercial script, you might make the commercial longer than the original 30 seconds. We will need to test the new script to see if it fits in the timeframe and may need to edit other sections of the commercial to reduce the length.

• Graphic design files are very large. That’s what makes them such high quality once they are printed. These large files take time to load and also to save changes. By the time a designer locates the file (which is often stored off the server on a disk because of its size), loads the file, works on the changes, saves it and creates a low resolution copy for you to view, it can take up to 30 minutes to make a minor change. That’s why we ask you to send through all author’s corrections in one go if possible.

• If you add new words to a brochure that has already been laid out, you can push words onto a new line and make the document longer than it was previously. This can bump photos out of place and make columns spill over onto new pages. Once we’ve added the new words we need to check the document to make sure that hasn’t happened. If it has happened, we need to take the time to fix it.

How can I reduce the costs?

• Make sure your text, headings and image choices are approved before you send it to your agency.

• For projects that require design, filming or audio, organise approvals before your agency proceeds to the production stage. It is much easier to change a word in a text document than to reshoot a TV commercial.

• If your agency is working in a text document, consider updating the document yourself rather than marking it up and sending it to the agency. That way you won’t be paying for the agency to make the changes.

• When you receive a draft make sure everyone provides their changes at the same time. Send all the changes through to your agency at the same time. It costs more for the agency to change five words on five separate occasions than to change all five at the same time.

• If your agency sends through something that you are not 100% happy with, tell them what you like about it and what you don’t like about it. This will make it easier for them to get it right.

Most importantly, if you are worried about author’s corrections talk to your agency about it. Any good agency will be happy to provide advice on how to keep costs down.