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View Full Version : Dictionary submission format - anybody know how to do it?



Ravenlocks
01-05-2008, 02:08 AM
I'm trying to find submission guidelines on the websites of dictionary publishers, but so far I haven't found what I need. Is there a standard manuscript submission format for a dictionary? Anybody know?

Tish Davidson
01-05-2008, 04:57 AM
I didn't even know that dictionaries used freelancers. I thought they were done in house.

Medievalist
01-05-2008, 05:43 AM
That's not how it works, unfortunately, for the main dictionaries. Yes, they do take subs, but mostly, for actual entry compilation, it's a matter of, well, being a professional--and you aren't paid. You can suggest words for the OED; there's a form on the Web site.

Ravenlocks
01-05-2008, 06:11 AM
Hmm. Do you think it's any different for a foreign-language dictionary for a niche market? I compiled the dictionary myself for my own use while I was working as a translator, but I was hoping I could get it out there as well.

Sorry for being ignorant, but they do say there are no stupid questions, and I honestly have no idea how dictionaries work (er, except how to look stuff up in one).

Thanks for helping!

Medievalist
01-05-2008, 09:00 AM
Hmm. Do you think it's any different for a foreign-language dictionary for a niche market? I compiled the dictionary myself for my own use while I was working as a translator, but I was hoping I could get it out there as well.

Unless it's very much specialized, like jargon used in a particular occupation, or slang, or regional expressions . . . you don't really have a chance.

They're made by an editorial group/committee that revises the entries and parts of entries written by linguists/scholars, or grad students working for linguists/scholars.

K1P1
01-05-2008, 09:14 PM
This is a slightly different situation, since it's not a language dictionary, but my husband was paid per entry for his contributions to the Dictionary of National Biography.

girlyswot
01-06-2008, 09:52 AM
I have a contract to write certain entries for a forthcoming dictionary. The style guide came with the first letter inviting me to be part of the project.

(Well, actually I don't because they made a number of errors in my personal details, but the corrected one is on the way.)

Billingsgate
01-06-2008, 01:29 PM
I strongly disagree that there is no possibility for an individually compiled dictionary to be published. Is it an Asian language related dictionary (guessing from the signature about K-Town)? If so, there are several publishers of Asian language related books, including Tuttle (now Periplus) in Vermont and Berkeley, and several based in Asian countries, including LinguaForm in Seoul. I'd do a little more research and make some enquiries.

Georganna Hancock
01-08-2008, 03:54 AM
Absolutely pursue finding a publisher, if not an agent. Learn to write a persuasive query letter to sell your work to someone. I doubt if this is something that you can send O.T. (over the transom or unsolicited), so don't worry about formatting. Once you sell the idea, you'll find out how to prepare the manuscript.

Good on you!

Ravenlocks
01-09-2008, 08:47 AM
Thanks, everybody.

Billingsgate, it's actually Russian-language (that was before I got into Korean). I'm thinking I'll contact an old professor and see if she has any ins, and if not I'll start querying publishers. I've done some research and found several who publish this sort of thing.

I guess I'll just cross my fingers and hope there's a market for it. Waiting for them to tell me how to format it will definitely work for me.

Billingsgate
01-09-2008, 09:24 AM
Well, how specialized is it? For example, I have a dictionary of Russian swear words, translated into German, published by Germany's #1 dictionary publisher, Langensheidt. An English book of Russian epithets was published by an American university press. The point is, even respectable publishers will release specialist dictionaries if they perceive a niche market for them. Doesn't have to be written by scholarly committees.

(You can tell my interest; I have numerous dictionaries of swear words and racial epithets: makes for great party smalltalk. My favorite Albanian curse: "T'i piftė sorra mendtė!", which means “May the magpie drink from your brains!”).

Ravenlocks
01-11-2008, 07:02 AM
It's a dictionary of word meanings that don't occur in standard dictionaries. Some are slangy, some are cultural references that other dictionaries ignore, some are just meanings and shades of meaning that I know from using the language but can't find written down anywhere else.

talkwrite
02-05-2008, 12:25 AM
Unless it's very much specialized, like jargon used in a particular occupation, or slang, or regional expressions . . . you don't really have a chance.

They're made by an editorial group/committee that revises the entries and parts of entries written by linguists/scholars, or grad students working for linguists/scholars.

Sorry Medievalist,the above is no longer true.
These dictionaries are compiled now by those of us who work in the field as translators because we are garnering the terms on a daily basis as opposed to linguists and scholars. These dictionaries are in great demand by professional translators, agencies and universities with translation degree programs. Try looking at St. Jerome's Press, Routledge and the imprints at Collins and McGraw Hill. Also go to the website for the American Translators Association for their publishing company sponsors. My publisher Multilingual Matters, does not publish dictionaries but the links page on their website ( in my signature) is loads of help. Good luck!

Ravenlocks
02-05-2008, 03:48 AM
Sorry Medievalist,the above is no longer true.
These dictionaries are compiled now by those of us who work in the field as translators because we are garnering the terms on a daily basis as opposed to linguists and scholars. These dictionaries are in great demand by professional translators, agencies and universities with translation degree programs. Try looking at St. Jerome's Press, Routledge and the imprints at Collins and McGraw Hill. Also go to the website for the American Translators Association for their publishing company sponsors. My publisher Multilingual Matters, does not publish dictionaries but the links page on their website ( in my signature) is loads of help. Good luck!

Awesome, thanks!