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Longer test I've ever seen: How much is too much?
Thread poster: Sophieanne

Sophieanne  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:50
English to French
+ ...
Feb 16, 2007

I just received a reply from an agency after a short test. They're giving me a longer test... 7 dense pages of a book, that amount to nearly 3000 words. I could not believe my eyes. No compensation of any kind is being offer. The books (there would be ten of them apparently) are from a major writer.
Has anyone heard of such long tests before?
I'm torn, as I lack experience in the publishing area. Are you supposed to just do the test gracefully because this is a major author, or am I being plain taken advantage of?
I have not replied yet, hoping for some feedback from translators who have worked for literary publishers before...


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Maria Karra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:50
Member (2000)
Greek to English
+ ...
normal Feb 16, 2007

In my experience this is normal. For my first literary-translation test I had to translate much more than that: the entire first chapter of a book (excellent book though; my favorite to this day; The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl. At least it wasn't a painful test!) The test needs to be long because they have to assess not only your language/translation skills but also your writing style, the flow of your text, its cohesion, etc.

Maria

Edit: I just looked at that chapter I'd translated; it's 22 pages. So 7 pages doesn't sound too bad. Especially if the author of the books you'll translate is famous. I would do it if I were you.

[Edited at 2007-02-16 02:31]


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 22:50
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Push for payment Feb 16, 2007

Hi,
Literary translation is hard. It's translation and creative adaptation to cross the cultural divide. I think it's a lot of work to do for free and this agency was obviously impressed by your initial test so I think they would be willing to pay you for a longer test. Winning this contract is valuable to them and if they think they can get it with you, then I think they'll pay you for it if you push them.

At the end of the day it's up to you. If you really want this project and believe you can get it and if you enjoy translating the material even for the experience and fun of translating it, then do it.

Good luck,
Mark


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Anne Patteet  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:50
English to French
+ ...
I have no experience in book translation, Feb 16, 2007

but I remember there was another thread on the same topic not too long ago. I just don't remember if it was in English, French or Spanish, I'm very sorry (maybe someone can help me here), but what I can remember from it was in agreement with Maria Karra's post.

Good luck!

[Modifié le 2007-02-17 02:06]


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Agnieszka Zmuda  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:50
Member (2005)
English to Polish
Found the thread... Feb 16, 2007

Yes, that is probably the thread Anne is talking about...

http://www.proz.com/post/425002

For me, having to translate whole chapters for free is suspicious but maybe I'm oversensitive

Agnieszka

[Edited at 2007-02-16 08:02]


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Long tests for book translations are normal Feb 16, 2007

They need to have a good-sized sample of your style in order to be able to decide if your translation work matches the style of the author.

When I translated my previous book (a management book, not a novel), the author had to submit three chapters of the translated book to the publisher as a sample and he asked me to translate those 3 chapters.

I must say that I was concerned at first, but in hindsight I am happy that I did. His book was a huge success and I haven't stopped being busy since then.

What I would not leave out when you do get to translate the book(s) - the actual project - is setting up a good PO/contract and taking payment in milestons. Specify the payment terms clearly in the contract including when and where.

With multiple books, you might want to set up a contract for each one. You never know, things might change while you work. Then you are not stuck wth the same contact for the whole project. You could also perhaps divide up the payment in parts for one book. Don't wait until the whole book is translated or the whole project is finished. That might take some time and then you do not have income.

I had the payments of my book divided up in four installments, the first one right at the start of Chapter 4 and the last one before delivering the last chapter. They shouldn'r have an issue with that because you showed your goodwll with the longer sample.

At times they pay a less for the translation of books than for other types of worl, but books are exciting to translate and if the book is an success, this is great publicity.

Good luck!

Lucinda


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Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
English to Swedish
Discussed in November last year Feb 16, 2007

Hi,
This subject was also discussed in November last year:

http://www.proz.com/post/459035

Good luck,
Cecilia


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Gert Hirschfeld  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:50
English to German
+ ...
Think twice before you waste your time Feb 16, 2007

Here we only hear from translators who got the contract in the end. Well, that's great, but please bear in mind, that they might send the test to a few people and only one will be the chosen translator in the end. So if you are not that person, then you will have wasted a lot of time you might have spent on something more lucrative.

My advice to you, Sophieanne: you'd better find out, if they have shortlisted other translators and if so, how many.

[Edited at 2007-02-16 12:24]


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Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
English to Swedish
Think twice before you don't waste your time Feb 16, 2007

First of all you have to decide if literary translation is something you'd like to pursue. If it is you should not see a test translation that does not give you the assignment as a waste of time, but rather an opportunity to improve yourself. You should for example ask the editor at the publishing house for comments on your translation, and what made them decide to choose another translator. This will give you invaluable information regarding potential weaknesses in your style.

Literary translation is completely different from translation of manuals etc. It is not something anyone should do just for the money - you really need a vocation for it.

I am not saying you can't make money doing literary translations, but it is realistic to think that the first couple of books you translate will not give you much of a profit as you will probably have to spend much more time than usual polishing, re-translating, and editing.

But literary translation can also give you a great personal satisfaction, worth more than money.

Good luck!
Cecilia


[Edited at 2007-02-16 12:56]


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Sophieanne  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:50
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I would like to pursue it Feb 16, 2007

[Literary translation is indeed something I'm interested in. So, since the answers to my post seem to say this is normal, I think I'll go for it... I also need to know how much to charge per word if I get the job, as they are asking me my rates, and I'm a bit clueless about literary rates. But that's probably another forum subject.
Anyway, thanks to all for the enlightening advice.

quote]Cecilia Falk wrote:

First of all you have to decide if literary translation is something you'd like to pursue. If it is you should not see a test translation that does not give you the assignment as a waste of time, but rather an opportunity to improve yourself. You should for example ask the editor at the publishing house for comments on your translation, and what made them decide to choose another translator. This will give you invaluable information regarding potential weaknesses in your style.

Literary translation is completely different from translation of manuals etc. It is not something anyone should do just for the money - you really need a vocation for it.

I am not saying you can't make money doing literary translations, but it is realistic to think that the first couple of books you translate will not give you much of a profit as you will probably have to spend much more time than usual polishing, re-translating, and editing.

But literary translation can also give you a great personal satisfaction, worth more than money.

Good luck!
Cecilia


[Edited at 2007-02-16 12:56] [/quote]


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Sophieanne  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:50
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A bit of a doubt thought Feb 16, 2007

Something's bothering me. I researched the agency on the Internet, and stumbled on the exact same ad, asking for the same test, two months ago. I wonder what to make of this.

Maria Karra wrote:

In my experience this is normal. For my first literary-translation test I had to translate much more than that: the entire first chapter of a book (excellent book though; my favorite to this day; The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl. At least it wasn't a painful test!) The test needs to be long because they have to assess not only your language/translation skills but also your writing style, the flow of your text, its cohesion, etc.

Maria

Edit: I just looked at that chapter I'd translated; it's 22 pages. So 7 pages doesn't sound too bad. Especially if the author of the books you'll translate is famous. I would do it if I were you.

[Edited at 2007-02-16 02:31]


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Anne Patteet  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:50
English to French
+ ...
It could be many things, Feb 17, 2007

but it could also be that they weren't satisfied with the first set of translator(s) who did the test, and they are making a second round.

[Modifié le 2007-02-17 02:13]


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Sophieanne  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:50
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks a lot, and... Feb 17, 2007

Thanks a lot Maria, and sorry if I don't reply to everyone's reply... That makes sense, and I will follow your advice.
I'm wondering, since you have experience in this domain, if you would looke at my other question in the Money Matters (advice on how much to quote)... I'm interested in this work and I don't want to be to high or too low...

quote]Maria Karra wrote:

In my experience this is normal. For my first literary-translation test I had to translate much more than that: the entire first chapter of a book (excellent book though; my favorite to this day; The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl. At least it wasn't a painful test!) The test needs to be long because they have to assess not only your language/translation skills but also your writing style, the flow of your text, its cohesion, etc.

Maria

Edit: I just looked at that chapter I'd translated; it's 22 pages. So 7 pages doesn't sound too bad. Especially if the author of the books you'll translate is famous. I would do it if I were you.

[Edited at 2007-02-16 02:31] [/quote]


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Sophieanne  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:50
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I think you're right Feb 17, 2007

Anyway, I won't know unless I try... I've done literary work but on a small scale, so this is worth testing.
Anne Patteet wrote:

but it could also be that they weren't satisfied with the first set of translator(s) who did the test, and they are making a second round.

[Modifié le 2007-02-17 02:13]


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Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
English to Swedish
Literary rates in Sweden Feb 17, 2007

I can tell you how it works in Sweden, anyway.

Traditionally literary translation has not been paid by word, but by printed sheet, and one printed sheet has up to lately been defined as 32,000 keystrokes (including spaces). The remuneration has also traditionally been (and still is) calculated based on the translated text, not the source text.

A fairly new agreement in the Swedish publishing world has established a recommended *minimum rate* per 1,000 keystrokes (the old way of counting based on printed sheets has been abandoned). This agreement is definitely an improvement in rates for literary translation in Sweden!

It is not a very straightforward agreement as all taxes are not included, and there is also the added benefit of holiday pay that has traditionally been paid to translators in Sweden (from publishing houses), so it is a bit difficult to give a completely accurate figure, but here goes:

For a translator with a company responsible for paying all their own taxes:
As a *minimum* you should get around SEK 119 per 1,000 keystrokes.
This equals around €12.87 or $16.89 per 1,000 keystrokes.

Converted to a per word price this means *approximately* SEK 0.65 per word.
This equals around €0.07 or $0.09 per word.

To conclude: This is the recommended minimum rate, but it is then up to the individual translator to negotiate a higher price. For more “advanced” books the price will definitely be higher, even a lot higher.

I have no idea how it is in other countries, but it would be very interesting to hear. I have now started a new thread regarding this:

http://www.proz.com/topic/66310

Best regards,
Cecilia


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