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Common practice for invoicing proofreading
Thread poster: xxxSerena Warlu
xxxSerena Warlu  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
French to English
Jan 14, 2008

I am currently proofreading a dozen small articles for a new agency. This is the first time I have done this sort of work. I have agreed a rate per hour. What is the usual way of invoicing, simply giving the total time spent or should I give more details?
(Two of the articles were so badly translated that I had to re-translate 80% so obviously this took me much longer).


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:04
English to Dutch
+ ...
Just say how much time you spent, unless... Jan 14, 2008

unless there is something exceptional going on.

If you are proofreading with 'track changes', they will see the work you've done and understand how much time you had to spend.

If you need to spend a lot more time than expected (as in the case of really bad translations), it is probably wise to inform your PM of the circumstances.

That's what I do in case of an hourly rate, anyway.


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Lenah Susianty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:04
Member (2004)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
per hour Jan 14, 2008

Usually I just write the hours I spend for proofreading. I do even go to the minutes sometimes, so it is possible for me to write 1 hours 20 minutes and then calculate the rate accordingly. Some company might know in advance how long a proofreader might spend for a particular job, in that case usually they say 'maximum 3 hours' or something like that. Some other company pay per word too! which I find quite annoying sometimes, since if the translation is bad and I have to spend hours and hours, I still would get paid less than if I charge per hour.

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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Member
Dutch to German
+ ...
Charge your normal translation rate Jan 14, 2008

This situation sounds familiar to me. What was given to me saying "have a brief look at style and spelling" ended up being a real re-writing nightmare. I actually resigned at a certain point and just translated it myself (saving a considerable amount of time compared to the "proofreading"). I agreed with the client to charge my normal translation rate in this exceptional case. Now this client cuts out the middle man and knocks directly on my door when he needs a translation job done. And that's the way it should be.

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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:04
Member
French to English
+ ...
By the hour, but with warning Jan 14, 2008

I charge by the hour for proofreading and it is quite rare that there are any surprises. I always ask to see a text before accepting and generally give a ball-park figure to the client roughly estimating how long the translation will take. If ever I come across a "surprise" which I know will dramatically alter my estimate, then I alert the client to this fact and explain the issue(s).

I rarely accept proofing jobs on a per-word basis and feel that most reasonable clients fully understand why and accept this.

Best,
Jocelyne


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
English to German
+ ...
80% percent re-translation? Jan 14, 2008

Think again. As a proofreader, your job is to detect mistakes in spelling or grammar and mistranslations and to fix them. You may be asked to justify each and every edit, especially when you are claiming that 80% was trash.

As a proofreader, nobody is interested in your personal taste. Trying to rewrite the entire job screams: BEGINNER!!!


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xxxSerena Warlu  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Helpful advice Jan 15, 2008

Thank you all for sharing your experience.

As I agreed just an hourly rate with the agency, I shall just give them the total time spent. I will definitely ask to look at the documents in advance in the future (I usually do that for translating).

Nicole, you gave me a fright suggesting I might be asked to justify each and every edit! I have just compared the original documents and my corrections and I hope I won't have any problems. In one document the person obviously didn't understand the subject and just skipped whole sentences if he was unsure. The other document was apparently translated by somebody who did not speak English as a first language, it might even have been translated by a machine. The errors actually changed the meaning of the sentences. For example :

"with an unknown sensitivity and accuracy" rather than "with a sensitivity and accuracy never seen before"

Nonetheless, I'll watch out in the future and take the advice of Margreet, Wolfgang and Jocelyn and call the agency if I have a similar problem.

Thanks again,
Serena


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
English to German
+ ...
Hi Serena Jan 15, 2008

I hope I didn't sound rude in my earlier post...

Good agencies send the edited text back to the translator for final review and the translator has the final say. I like that because the proofreader and the translator should work together as a team. Goal is to deliver the best product possible.

Whenever I am asked to do editing I take a look at the text first. If the text is crawling with mistranslations, I suggest a re-translation. If the client doesn't agree, I decline the project altogether. Who wants to translate at proofreading rates?

The point: The agency needs to be informed upfront because if you deliver an entirely new translation, it has to be proofread and checked by a third party again (nobody is perfect) which in return will exceed the budget and the time frame. Believe me, the outsourcer might not be amused...


Addendum:

One of my client even sends a form together with the editing job in which the edits are to be listed and explained. Without exception all of my clients are asking for an evaluation of the overall quality of the translation.

Stylistic changes are not appreciated which is usually stated in the PO. Good agencies are choosing their translators for their writing style, their experience and their know-how. A good editor will never mess with the particular style.



[Edited at 2008-01-15 10:16]


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xxxSerena Warlu  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Extra feedback Jan 15, 2008

Nicole,

Thanks for the extra feedback. I hadn't thought of your point that if too many modifications are made, the document needs to be proofread again!

Unfortunately, I was given this job on Friday at 17:30 so I was "left to my own devices" over the weekend. In addition, this was the first job I have done for this agency (except for a successful test translation).

I will definitely call the agency in the future.

Serena


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Member
Dutch to German
+ ...
@Nicole: Not necessarily Jan 15, 2008

Nicole Schnell wrote:

As a proofreader, nobody is interested in your personal taste. Trying to rewrite the entire job screams: BEGINNER!!!


Tough statement, but unfortunately this does not go for translations where the transalator is not a native speaker (very common practice in one of my language pairs). If you actually end up looking into the source text twice every sentence, then it should be obvious that more than just proofreading is required. Of course I normally announce this, send a sample page and let the client decide in this case.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 21:04
French to Dutch
+ ...
Just one remark Jan 15, 2008

Agencies don't like proofreaders who want to change everything. If you say that everything has to be re-translated, you will probably never hear of this agency again. Regardless of the (lack of) quality of the translation! In most cases all they want is someone who has a quick look at it, who changes two or three minor errors and that's all, so they comply with ISO standards and everybody is happy.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
English to German
+ ...
Hi Wolfgang Jan 15, 2008

I learned it the hard way myself in my early days and I had to figure out quite quickly that proofreading/editing has nothing to do with playing the grade school teacher, equipped with the infamous red pen.

I was sent excellent translations that obviously were reviewed, checked and proofread by the translator previously, yet I felt that I had to change SOMETHING to prove that I actually worked on it. How idiotic. Well, I learned..

Today, I like praising great translations and exchanging compliments with translator colleagues (always with a copy to the client) as we are checking each others work. Nobody is perfect.

I am sorry that "non-native speaker" has become a synonym for sub-standard. I have seen worse committed by so-called native speakers, believe me. A bad translation is either "lousy" or it is "lousy". And such proofreading-jobs shall be declined since a proofreader's job description does not include the term "cleaning woman".

One more thing: please don't mix up proofreading with editing.


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