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Rates for translating a book
Thread poster: Ana Juliá

Ana Juliá
Spain
Local time: 21:19
Partial member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 26, 2003

A publishing company has offered me a rate of 18 euros per 1000 words. Is this too low? What are the common rates for translating a book?

Thanks in advance.

Ana


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:19
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Far too low Jul 26, 2003

To me it is far too low. I guess that you can negotiate twice as much + a substantial royalty... Markets vary a lot, however 0,018/word is not a realistic translation rate.

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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
German to Italian
+ ...
too low Jul 26, 2003

at least by Italian standards (which are already lower than those in many other countries) - a normal rate for literary translation would be about 0.05 euros per word. However, it depends on the usual rates in Spain; you should ask in the Spanish forum. Bye

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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 14:19
French to Spanish
+ ...
¡Escandaloso, diría yo! Jul 26, 2003

En estos momentos estoy traduciendo un guión cinematográfico de 130 páginas por esa cantidad, ¡pero por 220 palabras! ¡Cinco veces más de lo que te proponen! De acuerdo, es algo excepcional, pero venga... es demasiado bajo.

Adeu.


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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 22:19
English to Bulgarian
It depends on the other options in the agreement. Jul 26, 2003

If you will be paid royalties for each printed/sold book, then it is reasonable to translate at a lower rate. Same if you are to receive royalty payments (even if a fixed amount) at every reprint or new edition.

Else, I'd say don't go much lower than your usual rates.

But after all, the agreement you can reach depends very much on what kind of book it is - meaning on its selling potential. If it is a translation of a bestseller (hence, reasonably expected to be a success), you deserve your piece of the pie - so I might go for a lower rate, but by all means plus a royalties payment scheme. Same if it has a guaranteed market - e.g. if it is subsidized, or if it's an officially recommended teaching aid. However, in case it is by an unknown author, or its content is pretty specific, better take as high a rate as you can, and count it a closed deal.

MHO.

Sorry, can't comment on numbers, as the rates on my home market are certainly different from those in Spain.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's an insult Jul 27, 2003

Let them go somewhere else.

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Sheila Hardie  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:19
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Far too low, IMO Jul 27, 2003

Ana Juliá wrote:

A publishing company has offered me a rate of 18 euros per 1000 words. Is this too low? What are the common rates for translating a book?

Thanks in advance.

Ana


You didn't mention where these publishers are, but even for Spain that's far too low. I've been paid over twice that amount per word when translating books for Spanish publishers. I think you should expect at least 0.05 EUR/word.

Good luck!

Sheila


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lidius  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:19
German to Spanish
+ ...
low Jul 27, 2003

Sorry, but I cannot writte a long text in English, so I do it in Spanish.

Las editoriales suelen ser poco generosas con los traductores, pero la tarifa que te ofrecen es muy baja y, además, es extraño que una editorial estipule las tarifas basándose en palabras. Me explico: en España, las tarifas de traducción de libros para editoriales se estipulan normalmente sobre la base de x euros/holandesa de 2.100 espacios. Es decir, cuentan por página con un "bloque de letra" de 30 líneas x 70 caracteres: en general, las líneas incompletas (títulos, diálogos breves, etc.) se cuentan como completas. El precio por holandesa traducida suele oscilar entre los 8 y los 10 euros: menos es poco, más es un chollo seguramente reservado a los "grandes". Las asociaciones de traductores recomiendan tarifas más altas (¡faltaría plus!), pero su aplicación entra en el terreno de la utopía, o sea que mejor dejarlas correr (agua que no has de beber...).

And that's all!
L.


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Guillermo de la Puerta  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
German to Spanish
+ ...
It is too low Jul 27, 2003

Hello Ana,

18 € per 1000 words is 0,02 € per word

I think it is too low


Kind Regards willdlp


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mbc
Spain
Local time: 21:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
common but low Jul 28, 2003

I have been paid at 3 euro cents to translate art books into English here in Spain but I have friends who translate into Spanish who have been paid even less for literary translations, around 20 euros per 1000 words. Awful. If you can afford to say no I think you should. (I try to take my own advice but sometimes we need the work!!) BUT If publishers want a decent literary translation they have to respect the translator and pay a fair rate. I hope we can make them realize that.
Best of luck.


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Fuad Yahya  Identity Verified
Arabic
+ ...
A joke, an insult, or a nominal fee for essentially volunteer work Jul 28, 2003

100 euro per 1000 words is a good rate. To go lower than that, there needs to be a good reason, such as well-calculated royalties, but there is no good reason for 18 euro.

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pascie  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:19
English to French
+ ...
Way way far too low Jul 29, 2003

Serious publishing houses offer .15 per word.

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chinoiseau  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
Member
Chinese to French
+ ...
Spanish rates? Jul 29, 2003

Some weeks ago an USA organization posted a job for translating a 65000 words spiritual book.
I bidded for the French translation: 0,05/word (they called themselves a non-profit organization, I want to believe it, and after all, was interested by the challenge).
The reply, very polite and I think, sincere, came: My rate was too far higher than other bidders. They had receive bids from English into Spanish translators ranging from 0,01 to 0,02, so they were expecting that we could all work for that price. I felt that my interlocutor was convinced, since he had receive such low quotes, that it was a fair and professional price.In his mind it was a normal price.

Is it possible that exist such rates in Spain or Latin America? I couldn't even make a living of it in China!


[Edited at 2003-07-29 04:58]

[Edited at 2003-07-29 12:45]


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 17:19
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Yes to the first question Jul 29, 2003

Is it possible that exist such rates in Spain or Latin America?

Yes it is, these would be the lowest local rates, I think.

I couldn't even make a living of it in China!

The answer is in the definition of "make a living".
I'd like to ask those who offer local rates (to clients based abroad, I mean):

What kind of studies are your children making, in which school, where do you live, what kind of health care do you have, are you able to take some holidays from time to time...
Do you have ambitions or do you just want to have a dish on your table, have you heard about international rates and globalization...

Just some points to think about...

But I have nothing against local rates for local clients.

[Edited at 2003-07-30 00:00]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:19
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not reasonable in Spain Jul 30, 2003

1000 words is 2 hours of work presuming the text is easy and you already have a "professional flow". 18 euros is 1 to 1.5 hours of language teaching (minimum as per Convenio Colectivo, if you want to be legal about it).

A language teacher is not required to be bilingual - only proficient in his native tongue, preferrably with 20-40 hours of teacher training, which can be coursed in 6 weeks. Translation courses take a minimum of 1 year at the postgraduate level, or 4 years of undergraduate study. You may as well not have studied any foreign language skills.

Sorry, but it makes no sense to me.

[Edited at 2003-07-30 22:31]


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