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pricing question
Thread poster: Carine Sunderland-Buehler

Carine Sunderland-Buehler
Local time: 20:30
English to German
Jul 4, 2003

How do you price translations of books? (i.e. technical book of 775 pages)
thanks for any advice, Karin

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Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:30
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
I price per source word Jul 4, 2003

I don't know how others price, but I've done two books, both were agreed to be paid per source word. However, I ask for 30% at the start of the project (when ordered) 30% at half time, and the remainder upon complete delivery.
Good luck with your summer project!
I forgot to add that I don't use any CAT tools, and that my price per source word was my regular price for one book (approximately 750 pages) and the second one was 0.005 € cheaper per source word, only because the project was larger and the agency was really a great support and immediately agreed to my payment practices, no need to negotiate. I probably should have even asked for more, I think they would have accepted, but it was too late and they continue to call on me, two years later!

[Edited at 2003-07-04 16:07]

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:30
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Price per source word Jul 4, 2003

That is what I do because if you charge per page you may end up charging an amount for a page with a lot of text and/or imbedded tables, textboxes, etc.

Someone else suggested getting a percentage up front, then another one half way down the project and the rest at the end (if at all possible BEFORE the end of the project).

Definitely prepare a contract where you spell out what is agreed upon , like the terms of payment, amount of time for payments to be effectuated, etc.

For a technical book, the charge per source word is higher than some other subject matters. You decide and if possible get a representative sample so that you can make a good choice and get a feel of the subject and possibly of the number of repetitions.

I usually give a discount on books because of the size of the project - how much is up to you.

Also be up front with changes (trust me, they always make changes on books, before it is published the author will have changes as suggested by the publisher afterwards). Are they included in the price (then make your price reflect that) or do you have a separate charge for that!

Some authors abuse it if you have it included in the price, so beware.

I also ask for my name to be mentoined and the role that I played (free advertisement does not hurt anyone a bit, don't you think?) - if the book sells well, your name goes with it.
If possible, I ask for a copy of the book when it is out. The prof. I translated a management book for and collaborated with on another one agreed to this and sent me a signed copy . Nice touch, good for my portfolio!

Don't forget to make a good project plan so that you stay on track - preferably in consultation with your client.

Good luck on the project!


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ttagir  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:30
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
Large volume jobs (just a suggestion) Jul 4, 2003

In any large translation project 2 risks usually appear: 1) they do not pay appropriately, or/and 2) you miss the deadline or can be accused in something (for instance, quality; I know some cases where the reviewer/referee was unable to understand the level of translation since had no skills in a narrow topic).
Agencies prefer a) to shift all responsibilities to the translator, b) decrease their risks, c) settle contracts in a manner which, naturally, cuts any possibility to start proceedings concerning their fraud, etc. As far I know from my short experience (some 12 years, only), the best technique might be to suggest, say, advanced 25% payment, next 25% after your delivery of 50% + require a letter of indemnity issued by the agency where they should state that owe you the rest and will pay, say, 7-12 days after the final delivery.
Read carefully the contract before signing. A new agency may start to provoke a reduction of price, or give you too small advanced payment and suggest the final payment 60 days after completing the work, etc. I saw once, for example, a clause stating that agency may change date/time/volume/data of the delivery at their own will. Read also carefully the type of contract (rendering services or selling services, etc.) and try to make it at least equal for both the parties involved. Consult your friend-lawyer (e.g., from law faculty), etc. (note that professional lawyers are too expensive but you may derive rather specific experience which could help you in the future). They may start to argue, but be firm. If they see your profesinal quality, they will agree. Do not forget that in some cases the contract they send you might be the worst possible version...:) Remember that professional translators should know or forsee possible reefs before the ship "floats off":).
Check BlueBoard (accessible for Platinums), check Inet, etc.
Prices in different countries vary: in Germany more standard measure is a line with 55 chars (WITH SPACES!), because their average word is much longer than in many other languages. Italian agencies like to count in "standard pages" (1800 strokes with spaces), etc. First try to calculate what will be the price of the whole work. This advice is very special, but a usual price for technical translation of well-know subject into your native language may vary from $15 to $45 (a very approximate estimation - you should take into account tables, pictures, etc.). What factors imply a change of the value? More special texts require more specific knowledge. Scientific texts require even deeper knowledge of the topic. A popular technical text also could require good literature skills, etc. Evaluate 1) complexity (both linguistic and computer), 2) depth of your knowledge of the subjects, 3) your proficiency and expertize in similar works, 4) ways on which you can reach a serious consulting on the specific matters (KudoZ is very good, but sometimes more idiotic answers win since referee might know less than answering proz, etc.), 5) speed of delivery (if you think you can do somethings within 4 days - solicite 5:)), etc.. remember that time runs always faster than a difficult work:)
Last (not least though) advice: let us suppose that your usual price per word is $.10. For a >500 pp. work you may reduce it 5% to 10%; however, you may increase it 10% to 20% if the time is too tight, or DTP complicated, or consulting with specialists will be required. Note that agencies do the same! They also are used to add 30% for editing/proofreading by a "native editor", 10% for DTP, etc.,etc.,etc.
You may write me directly if necessary (though my ProZ mailbox is checked and read only once per a couple of days:)
In any case, good luck! and ask

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