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Translating books command much lower rates! Says who?
Thread poster: Dave Greatrix

Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:50
Dutch to English
+ ...
Feb 14, 2003

Received via Translatorscafe:



We are searching for translators for translation of books. At this moment we are working on a book and are in direct need of English into Dutch (for the Netherlands).



Please send your information to:

recruitment xxxxxxxxx.com



Note: prices for translating books are much lower than normal standard translations.



_________________________________________



Do they use different words in books, or am I missing something here?



Large projects are OK, but they bring a number of disadvantages aswell.



How many of us have turned away stacks of work because we\'ve been involved on long projects?



I agree that a discount can be given for quantity, but where does this \"much lower\" come from?





How much is \"much lower\" than 0.04 Euro?



Any views?









[ This Message was edited by:on2003-02-14 12:46]


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 04:50
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I once heard.... Feb 14, 2003

... that book translations come in at DM 25 per page if you are a translator with a high standing with that particular publisher.





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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:50
Member (2002)
English to German
Unfortunately yes Feb 14, 2003

I also was astonished about that fact and perhaps there are exceptions but exactly 4 cents was the rate a well-known Computer Science-publisher offered me for translating a Java book. I could imagine that it is even worse for novels.

Therefore I can confirm that this seems to be true but the question remains who actually works on such projects and why...


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 04:50
French to English
Some charge by the hour Feb 14, 2003

I know one experienced book translator who charges $80 per hour, but that is in the U.S. for books INTO English, if that makes any difference.



Some also have royalties agreements in their contracts.



If I were you, I wouldn\'t be tempted by such low rates, even if it is great to be able to translate a book.
[addsig]


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 04:50
German to English
Not only heard but know, Alison Feb 14, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-02-14 12:50, alison1969 wrote:

... that book translations come in at DM 25 per page if you are a translator with a high standing with that particular publisher.









What you say is true, Alison. 25DM was a good price per page 2 years ago. What my girlfriend calls a \"Hungerlohn done for love not income\". She with her husband have been translating books for more than 14 years. Needless to say they are still economically dependant and her parents...

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-02-14 13:15]

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Stephanie Bohnerth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:50
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Paid per page Feb 14, 2003

I was paid 30 DM (about 15 €) per page for a translation of a book on health problems. But that was at the end of 2001.



Kidn regards,



Stephanie


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OlafK
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:50
English to German
+ ...
It's true! Feb 14, 2003

I am currently working for a German publisher (on the side, as it were) and they pay a pittance. If I did this full-time I wouldn\'t be able to survive. I do it because it\'s nice work and will look good on my CV. But you shouldn\'t accept a literary translation job from an agency, the publisher will have your work reviewed anyway, in-house or otherwise, and they will put it in the right format for printing. Publishers don\'t usually work with agencies.



For those of you who understand German there is a link to the VDÜ with a list of prices that are deemed acceptable (it\'s still in DM):



http://www.literaturuebersetzer.de/pages/navig/f_serv.htm


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Marisapad  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
English to Italian
+ ...
...Says who???? The market! Feb 14, 2003


I tried many time to defeat this rule, but I lost the job(s). So I must acknowledge that the market is stronger than my fight.



Additionally, for Italy the prices mentioned by Alison or other people are just a dream!



marisa


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:50
Member (2004)
English to Italian
yes... it's the market... Feb 14, 2003

and the very high demand that drive the rates down. As simple as that. Obviously, it\'s a crime, but then we live in a capitalistic society, where the demand/offer rules... don\'t we?



Giovanni


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:50
Italian to English
Supply, demand ... and the size of the market Feb 14, 2003

Giovanni said:

>and the very high demand that drive the >rates down. As simple as that.



There is another factor, and that is the size of the market.



In a lively market, publishers have an incentive to sell on quality, rather than base their calculations on a minimum print run.



For example, if there were a larger market in Italy for books in translation, the relatively abundant supply of translators wouldn\'t necessarily drive rates down, although it would probably improve the general standard of translations published.



Rates would tend to be set by translators whose work was most popular with readers, because publishers would find themselves in competition for their services.



Although there are reasonably remunerative niches in the Italian publishing market for specialist translators, by and large, you\'re going to need a day job if you want to translate literature or \"saggistica\" into Italian.



It\'s not (entirely) the publishers\' fault. If a book sells a few thousand copies in Italy, it\'s considered a \"success\". You don\'t have to be a rocket scientist, though, to work out that fixed production and distribution costs don\'t leave much over for luxuries like translation fees, or even profit.



Go to the other end of the scale - the US - where a moderately successful book might sell a few tens of thousands of copies. Production and distribution costs are comparable to Italy but the margin left by the extra copies means that American publishers who handle foreign-language texts are often willing to invest more in a good translation.



It\'s not a capitalist conspiracy - just arithmetic.



FWIW



Giles


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
German to English
+ ...
Note that prices... Feb 14, 2003

>Note: prices for translating books are much lower than normal standard translations.<



The only possible conclusion is that this \"customer\" is looking for someone too inexperienced to be able to set their own rates.



Marc


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Momichi
Local time: 21:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Tell me about it... Feb 14, 2003

As I\'ve already mentioned before, I work from Mexico, where the translation rates are notorious for their crappiness.



I\'m currently working for two companies with drastically different rates. The first one is an independent company that provides translation services for automobile companies. They pay me a relatively \"competitive\" rate for the standards of this country: about 4 euros per page. That is about 0.03 euros per word, which may seem an hilarious rate for all my colleagues abroad. I choose not to complain because we are given an extensive translation memory, which makes it a proofreading work rather than a translation. Here we are talking about short jobs (about 100 pages max).



Now, the other company I work for is a translational publishing company, Thompson. They provide me with fairly big books (I am just finishing one 700 pages long). Their rate is (I\'m ashamed to tell) less than 3 euros the 250 words page. Don\'t make me calculate the rate per word. And, hear me well, this is without the aid of any CAT tool. I get no disk copy of the book at all, only the book itself for me to translate and sometimes only to copy (every time I get to the bibliography of the books I want to scream hell).



Their reasons for this ridiculous rate? That, since the job is so long, it provides us freelance translators with a stable and trustable income for three months or so, as opposed to when working with short gigs.



Why do I keep doing this? I honestly don\'t know. One reason is that I think translating for companies as important as this looks good in my credentials. Another reason is that, although the pay is indeed disgraceful, I am completely sure I will get paid, as opposed to when I\'m working for other companies that might promise a better pay but never deliver.



That\'s why I got into Proz in the first place. I know the translation business is a deadend in my country so I am looking for jobs internationally. No luck so far, but I\'m confident.



My advice? Never take books unless you\'re desperate. They will always pay you much less than you deserve.


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nimrodtran
Mexico
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
And the reasons are... Feb 14, 2003

More than 10 years ago, when I came to Spain from Israel, I was payed THEN 0.06 € per TARGET WORD in the pair Hebrew -> Spanish (very scarce, indeed).



In 1989, when an publishing house wanted to translate an Amos Oz book into Spanish, I thought that after getting payed I could retire to Bahamas...



The sad truth - less than 0.02 € per word - was then explained to me. For the publishing house, to publish a book is a risk. You can sell millions or you can sell a few hundreds, so they pay a flat rate for almost all source languages.



Technical translations are an INTEGRAL PART of the product or the service. In most countries, you can\'t sell a product if you don\'t have at least its handbook or specifications translated. So, what they pay to you is included in the price of the product.



That\'s the way the market is...



Best regards from,



Emilio, still dreaming about Bahamas...

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-02-14 21:08]


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Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
English to German
+ ...
Am I missing something? Feb 15, 2003

On 2003-02-14 13:51, Verbum Ltd. wrote:

\"...and the very high demand that drive the rates down.\"



Either I have missed my profession or there\'s something wrong with this statement: HIGH DEMAND should drive rates UP, not DOWN.\"


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:50
Italian to English
Demanding and supplying Feb 15, 2003

Either I have missed my profession or there\'s something wrong with this statement: HIGH DEMAND should drive rates UP, not DOWN.\"

[/quote]



You\'re right, of course, Steffan.



I think Giovanni was looking at the question from the translator\'s point of view and talking about \"demand for work\"!



Cheers,



Giles


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