Mobile menu

Concerns over a VERY large job
Thread poster: spanruss
spanruss
United States
Local time: 10:13
Russian to English
+ ...
Apr 20, 2006

I've been approached to do a translation that, in my estimation, would take me about 10 years to complete. Wow! I was asked for a price and time quote. However, as I'm sure you know, with a job this big, I really need to take more factors into account than that, the most obvious being legal services to protect me in all aspects of such an undertaking. They also asked if I was willing to work at a discounted rate, due to the sheer volume of the work. At first I thought "Heck yeah!", but then I realized that a reduced rate ten years down the road could prove to be very low pay, as the cost of living increases. And I don't even want to think about inflation possibilities! What I wanted to ask my fellow translators is whether you can think of any factors that I may not have thought of yet, which are worthy of consideration in this huge undertaking. For example, I've already thought to ask about source and target formats, since the ability to use TMs and CATs could well influence my productivity. Any other thoughts?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ala Rabie  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 18:13
Japanese to Arabic
+ ...
I assume that Apr 20, 2006

you have already considered the following:
  • Delivery basis; how many documents/pages/words (or some percentage) to deliver at what interval?
  • Payment; is it related to delivery, i.e. you get paid after X days of each delivery, or do you get paid at fixed intervals?

  • Receipt; how would you receive the documents? 24hrs-uptime online server? email? another method?
  • Delivery method; email? upload to a server? other?
  • Delivery format (you already got this); WordDoc? PDF? other? Are you supposed to apply some specific layout to the documents before delivery?


One more important point for me is to ensure that you are not liable if they do not provide the documents in time - that is if they are not going to send them all at once

Why don't you tell us what you already got checked, spanruss?

~Ala


Direct link Reply with quote
 

CathyFS  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:13
German to English
+ ...
Sounds nice 'n' cushy! Many things to consider though ... Apr 21, 2006

Well, with any large translation, you should definitely be using a CAT in my opinion - whatever about increasing your productivity, even just for consistency of terminology! I even use Trados for test translations!!

It's up to you whether you choose to go down the route of having a legal contract drawn up - there are certainly a lot of factors to consider. Income-wise, you would definitely be well-advised to arrange, for example, 1 delivery a month - to be followed by payment from the client. As regards inflation and the cost of living: this is where a written contract would come in useful (I have no experience in this area, though!). Even without a legal contract, once you set out terms via e-mail perhaps this would be sufficient? If they renage after the first year, when you expect them to comply with your first rate increase, then I imaging you could pull out of the deal citing non-compliance with a contract you had made between yourselves (I'm speculating here).

You could consider factoring in an annual price increase of 5%, though this could leave you short down the line ... Again, this is where an actual contract would come in handy. Maybe you could insist on an increase in line with the rate of inflation plus an additional 5% ...... that way your rate would rise in line with your experience as well as inflation.

You may find that, if the client knows nothing about daily throughputs and is unhappy with your timeframe (they might want it back in 12 months!), you may need to outsource some of the work and have other translators hook up with your translation memory over the Internet (again, to ensure consistency - NB where more than one translator is involved). In this instance, you would have to think long an hard about whether or not you want to take this on, as, ultimately, the buck would stop with you.

Anyway, good luck with it - I'm sure it would be wonderful if it goes ahead! Hope it doesn't drive you gaga though, translating the same thing day in day out can get a bit tedious It sounds like great income security though - you wouldn't have to worry about where your next plate of beans on toast is coming from!

Cathy


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:13
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Take a piece at a time Apr 21, 2006

Usualla those promises of huge jobs do not materialise. And it is always possible that they'll find a cheaper translator after some time. So I would take the first load and see what comes after that.
Regards
Heinrich


Direct link Reply with quote
 
RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:13
German to English
Personally, I wouldn't do it Apr 21, 2006

I think the longest standalone period I ever spent on a single translation was about 4 months on a book (finance). Never again. I was going totally spare by the end, and just wanted to get the damn thing out of the way. There comes a point when you can't see the wood for the trees. And that's the point when a) you start making mistakes, and b) something has to give.

Do you really want to spend ten years of your life on this? The way you describe it, you presumably wouldn't have time for other customers and other translations. Is this really what you want to do?

Of course there are financial considerations (time value of money, i.e. inflation, progress payments and so on) to be taken into account, as this would represent your income for 10 years or so. And I presume your customer is outside the US, otherwise of course you run the risk (tax, social security, legal) of being classed as an employee. And if your customer is outside the US, then there are other risks to be factored in.

But to be honest, I think that the psychological aspects are the most important. Just ask yourself: do you really want to be doing this day in, day out, for 10 years? I think that the tradeoff is secure income v. potential burnout. And what happens if you burn out? Will your customer have recourse against you for the uncompleted translation?

It's your life, of course, but I would urge you to think long and hard before selling 10 years of it to a single customer.

Robin


Direct link Reply with quote
 
David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:13
Spanish to English
Large Job Apr 21, 2006

[quote]spanruss05 wrote:

I've been approached to do a translation that, in my estimation, would take me about 10 years to complete.

Start an agency, assuming the rate and a contract was set up. With a background job lasting 10 years (I wouldn't do it unless it was a topic I really, really liked. I did work in the same hospital for 33 years, without realising how fast the time passed). You could farm it out to others when you have other regular, smaller workload, clients. Of course you would have to use a CAT tool to control terminology, etc., and I am sure over a 10 year period your freelance translators.
Good luck for the future.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ala Rabie  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 18:13
Japanese to Arabic
+ ...
..to translate as many words as the population of the Netherlands :D Apr 21, 2006

RobinB wrote:
(...)And I presume your customer is outside the US, otherwise of course you run the risk (tax, social security, legal) of being classed as an employee. And if your customer is outside the US, then there are other risks to be factored in.

(...)

It's your life, of course, but I would urge you to think long and hard before selling 10 years of it to a single customer.


Nothing to be said after Robin.

However, it is all about the volume and how would you manage to spread it over ETA 3,652 days.

For me, 10 years-exclusive = 15~18 million words. What would reach such count other than encyclopediae? Hmm... this would end any thought of offering any major discount.

Redundancy kills.

~Ala

[Edited at 2006-04-21 16:46]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 11:13
German to English
Refer the client to an agency Apr 21, 2006

Tempting though it may be to get rich from a single client, this project is really much too large for one translator. My own recommendation would be to contact an agency you think well of, tell them about the project, arrange a finder's fee as well as a piece of the project. With any luck, the agency should be able to complete the project in well under 10 years, and you will come out of this in one piece financially. As Robin and others have pointed out, a job like this has a lot of down-side.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
spanruss
United States
Local time: 10:13
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
TM could shorten things Apr 21, 2006

I still haven't heard back from the client for more details on this job.
I actually base my 10-year estimate on a comfortable rate of a million words per year. However, if I am supplied a Word or similar electronic file, the redundancy in such a huge job would obviously help speed up translation through my TM program (Trados), to what extent, I won't know until I really get rolling. If, however, they offer the job in hard copy or pdf, wouldn't that practically destroy my hopes of using a TM? I don't own a scanner right now, and, if I understand it correctly, that wouldn't be a practical option anyway. Don't even the best scans still require quite a bit of "cleaning up"? The time spent on that would quickly negate any time saved by the TM. Am I right in this line of thinking?


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 11:13
German to English
Don't need a scanner with pdf files Apr 21, 2006

Many, if not most, OCR programs can read pdf files directly, so there's no need for a scanner (although at prices in the US, you can buy one quite cheaply). Look at the forum archives for recommendations for OCR programs. Lots of discussion there.

And you're right, pdf docs not created directly from an Office file (or other electronic document) frequently need a fair amount of massaging. I'm currently working on a file that was created as a scan, and although the text is quite clear and legible, there are lots of tables and font changes that have required a significant amount of cleaning up. You don't want to have to go through that for a giant project. You'll go broke.

Nevertheless a 10 million word project is not for one person to handle alone, even with electronic files and Trados.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
spanruss
United States
Local time: 10:13
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
This is from an agency Apr 21, 2006

Kevin Fulton wrote:

My own recommendation would be to contact an agency you think well of, tell them about the project, arrange a finder's fee as well as a piece of the project.


This job offer is actually coming from an agency, so outsourcing it further is not in my hands. However, I may very well recommend to this agency that it be split up, if a TM can be used by all involved to ensure consistency.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anette Herbert  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:13
English to Swedish
+ ...
Only you? Apr 23, 2006

spanruss05 wrote:


This job offer is actually coming from an agency, so outsourcing it further is not in my hands. However, I may very well recommend to this agency that it be split up, if a TM can be used by all involved to ensure consistency.


If it is coming from an agency, my guess is that they are only informing you how large the volume is and that you will be one of the presumptive translators, so I would not worry to much. I am in a similar situation for a job for 1 million words, but I have no illusions that it will be just me doing this.
It will all be in hand, and the agency will tell you what you need to do.
If you don't have a Cat tool already, I would strongly recommend one.

Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxAdrian MM.
Local time: 17:13
French to English
+ ...
Potential agency/ end-user insolvency issues Apr 23, 2006

Very good points by everybody above.

Even split between several translators and spread over a shorter span of time, the job raises securing of payment and prospective insolvency problems.

Some agencies and/or end-users aren't around 10 years after first placement of mega-jobs. Unless secured, translators will rank well down the list of ordinary creditors queuing = lining up for payment in the event of a financial crash which may, at worst, bring you down with it.

My first priority in the UK would be, if feasible, to go round to the outfits concerned and see what kind of set-ups are involved. NB the Portuguese agency disappearing-into-the-garden trick in the Joy of Translating entry on this forum.

Even then, I would do a credit status and/or company search on both the agency, if a corp., and the end-users, unless classified info., and see if there is one mortgage or debenture too many and likely to bring down what seems like an expensive operation/impressive factory plant & equipment, all bought on credit.

I would also look for personal guarantees from any company directors who stand to make a 'killing' from the job, but are apt to make themselves scarce if their corporation goes bust.

Once settled into a routine, the agency and translator - despite a legal contract - may easily fall into a payment lag-behind scenario that is difficult or well-nigh impossible to catch up on if there is a crash.

[Edited at 2006-04-24 09:45]

[Edited at 2006-04-28 07:25]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:13
German to English
+ ...
Comfortable (!) rate of 1 million words per year? Apr 24, 2006

spanruss05 wrote:
... I actually base my 10-year estimate on a comfortable rate of a million words per year. ...


This is a comfortable rate for you? Maybe I'm missing something, but when I crunch the numbers they look like this:

52 weeks per year x 5 days per week (generously assuming you will take weekends off) = 260 potential working days per year. 1 million words divided by 260 days = 3846 words/working day.

Do you really think this is realistic? I realize it depends on the languages and the material, but my output is around 2000-3000 words per day. I can manage more than that in a pinch but not for extended periods of time. If you calculate 3 weeks of vacation and say 1 week of sick days (which I think is on the low end), you are well over 4,000 words per day. Payment, liability and security issues aside: you expect to keep up this pace day in, day out, for 10 years?



[Edited at 2006-04-24 11:18]


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Concerns over a VERY large job

Advanced search


Translation news





SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs