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Rates for literary vs. technical translation
Thread poster: stephbell

stephbell
France
Local time: 11:29
English to French
+ ...
May 24, 2007

Dear all,

Today, I have been approached by a Canadian publishing firm who is looking for translators to translate several books ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 words on nutrition, spirituality, youth, etc.
They are offering CAD$0.09 per word with payment at 60 days after delivery.

I have 15 years of experience in technical translation, and I usually get a rate of CAD$0.18 to CAD$0.20 per word from Canadian agencies.

Since I have no experience at all in literary translation, I am wondering if this is a fair and acceptable rate, and if it is reasonable to think that I will be able to translate this twice as fast as the technical assignments I usually get?!

Thank you all for your input.

Stephanie


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
literary vs. technical May 24, 2007

Stephanie Bellumat wrote:

Dear all,

I have 15 years of experience in technical translation, and I usually get a rate of CAD$0.18 to CAD$0.20 per word from Canadian agencies.

Since I have no experience at all in literary translation, I am wondering if this is a fair and acceptable rate, and if it is reasonable to think that I will be able to translate this twice as fast as the technical assignments I usually get?!



There should be no difference in payment between technical and literary translation!

I would accept a lower rate for a literary translation because I love it, and there isn't that much demand. But that would be MY decision. The texts would have to be interesting and fun, preferably well written, and it should be a large enough amount to make it worth my time.

But thinking that you will be able to work faster than in technical translations should not be a factor. Definitely, you WILL NOT BE ABLE to translate twice as fast. And if your expertise is in technical translation, you will probably work slower in literary translation, at least at first.
And you will not be able to use translation memories for literary translation...

Actually, some would say literary translation can be more difficult than technical... But without going into debates or discussion about that, the payment should not be lower.


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stephbell
France
Local time: 11:29
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
literary vs. technical May 24, 2007

Heidi C wrote:



There should be no difference in payment between technical and literary translation!


[/quote]

Thanks Heidi, that was my initial reaction as well.
I will then try to get a higher rate.


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Derek Ferrari-Frankland  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
We pay more for literary translations May 24, 2007

Stephanie Bellumat wrote:

Dear all,

Today, I have been approached by a Canadian publishing firm who is looking for translators to translate several books ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 words on nutrition, spirituality, youth, etc.
They are offering CAD$0.09 per word with payment at 60 days after delivery.

I have 15 years of experience in technical translation, and I usually get a rate of CAD$0.18 to CAD$0.20 per word from Canadian agencies.

Since I have no experience at all in literary translation, I am wondering if this is a fair and acceptable rate, and if it is reasonable to think that I will be able to translate this twice as fast as the technical assignments I usually get?!

Thank you all for your input.

Stephanie


Dear Stephanie,

As a company we pay around 30% more for literary translations than for technical translations, the reason being that you can apply CAT tools to a technical translation to increase productivity, taking advantage of repetition and structured manuals.
That said, the rate you are being offered is more than our market prices here in Italy.

Derek


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Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
$.09/word is about what I would expect May 24, 2007

I am a US-based literary translator, and personally I would be surprised if you could get much more than $.10 or $.12/word, unless it is a book that is expected to be very profitable. In general, while literary translation is certainly one of the most time-consuming types of translation, the people who pay for it--publishers or individuals--don't have as much money as other types of companies!

But I would be really interested to know whether other literary translators have experience getting well-paid for their work, at least here in North America?

Yvette


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Joseph Ferran
Argentina
Local time: 07:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Literature/Poetry Should be paid at a higher rate May 24, 2007

It seems that all comments from the translatos responding to this topic are failing to consider what really is involved in poetry translations (Problably one of the must difficult to perform). Please keep in mind that when you are translating poetry you even have mathematical calculations towards words involved on each line. Also, considering the words that might have to rhyme. Without forgetting the challenge of trying to bring ¨the meaning¨ into the target language.

All these previously mentioned: if one is seeking a ¨properly and well versed¨ translation.

I would have to say that poetry translation should be paid at a higher rate.

The translator that made a statement that he/she is receiving payments of 0.18 to 0.20 (Canadian) per word is a nice steady income for freelance work (That is a rate which is higher than most Translation companies are willing to pay, perhaps higher than what most translation companies in North America charge their own clients)

[Edited at 2007-05-24 18:57]

[Edited at 2007-05-24 18:58]

[Edited at 2007-05-24 18:59]


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
Literary translation May 24, 2007

Joseph FERRAN wrote:


All these previously mentioned: if one is seeking a ¨properly and well versed¨ translation.

I would have to say that poetry translation should be paid at a higher rate.




I completely agree: poetry and literary translations should be paid at a MUCH higher rate, because much more is involved.

I am also a realist, and know that it is very hard to find work as a literary translator. And I agree with what Yvette said, whoever asks for a translation of a literary work generally does not have the amount of money a company who needs translations for a profitable business enterprise.

That is why I said I would be willing to accept less pay, if it was something worth translating. Actually, I would almost be willing to pay for the chance to have a translation of mine of a great work published... (hahahaha)


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Hendarto Setiadi  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 17:29
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Try to negotiate a royalty clause May 25, 2007

Rather than go for higher rates, you might try to negotiate a royalty clause. Say you accept the offered rate of CAD$0.09 per word for the initial print run of xxxx copies, then asked for a royalty payment of CAD$ zzzz/copy of any reprints. If the book sells well, you will keep enjoying the fruits of your work.

Hendarto
(Indonesian literary translator)


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:29
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some issues May 25, 2007

Stephanie Bellumat wrote:
Today, I have been approached by a Canadian publishing firm who is looking for translators to translate several books ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 words on nutrition, spirituality, youth, etc.


Sound rather technical to me... unless you're an absolute expert in the field of the book, you can expect to do some research, and that will take up time.

They are offering CAD$0.09 per word with payment at 60 days after delivery.


I don't see how a publishing house can pay after 60 days. They should pay immediately (or end-of-month). I can understand why agencies pay after 30 or 60 days (they need to get payment from their clients, and other reasons). The publisher already has all the money, otherwise he wouldn't have embarked on the project -- why does he wait 60 days?

Since I have no experience at all in literary translation, I am wondering if this is a fair and acceptable rate, and if it is reasonable to think that I will be able to translate this twice as fast as the technical assignments I usually get?!


It is a different type of translation. You can do a little more paraphrasing than you'd normally do, but the translation must still be broadly accurate, so you won't spend that much less time on it. Publishers (in my country) generally pay a lot less than agencies or other businesses.


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Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
not exactly literary translation May 25, 2007

Samuel makes a good point that I forgot to mention--a book on nutrition is certainly not considered literary! That would fall under the category of science or even general medicine, I would think. And even the other categories you mention--"spirituality" and "youth" are vague topics, but sound like they might be informational books, probably not literary. Literary would generally refer to poetry, novels, short stories, memoir.

I agree with Samuel that translating a book on nutrition--especially for a non-nutrionist--would be quite technical and time-consuming! For that one, I'd suggest going for the highest rate you can.

On the others--well, I would not agree to a fixed rate without seeing an excerpt of the book.

Hope this helps.

Yvette


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stephbell
France
Local time: 11:29
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Translation grants from the Canada Council of Arts May 25, 2007

Thank you all for your input.

I have found out that, starting on April 1st 2007, Canadian publishers are eligible for translation grants of up to 0.14 per word for this type of books.
http://www.canadacouncil.ca/subventions/lettres/ex127227344686875000.htm

The publisher who contacted me for the translation has most probably applied for this grant, and should therefore offer a better rate than CAD$0.09.

[Edited at 2007-05-25 10:07]


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Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Are you sure this grant applies to your publisher? May 25, 2007

Stephanie Bellumat wrote:

Thank you all for your input.

I have found out that, starting on April 1st 2007, Canadian publishers are eligible for translation grants of up to 0.14 per word for this type of books.
http://www.canadacouncil.ca/subventions/lettres/ex127227344686875000.htm

The publisher who contacted me for the translation has most probably applied for this grant, and should therefore offer a better rate than CAD$0.09.

[Edited at 2007-05-25 10:07]



Stephanie, I took a look at the web link you sent--it says that these grants are applicable to literary translations only (there's a list of genres, similar to what I mentioned in my last posting), so it looks like they are not applicable to the type of informational book you've been asked to translate. Remember that "literary translation" refers to literature only (poetry, fiction, etc.), and is not the same as "book translation", which could be a translation of any genre of book, literary, technical, scientific, religious, or anything else. Forgive me if I'm stating the obvious.

Good luck--
Yvette


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Dr. Salma St. John
Local time: 05:29
Arabic to English
+ ...
Rate per page??? Jun 21, 2010

Hi Stephanie and everyone,

I am currently having a similar situation.
I have been approached by a publisher to translate a book (two more to follow) that contains 350 pages and about 160,000 words. The topic falls under social sciences, and is not too technical. When I was checking translation rates for books on the internet, I cam across a freelancer who mentioned that she charged $10 per page. Is this really common? And if so, is it fair?
Your feedback is appreciated.

Salma St. John


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Ronald van der Linden  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 04:29
German to Dutch
+ ...
literary work: different type of fee calculation Jun 21, 2010

There have been similar discussions on literary vs. technical translations.
In some countries, such as the Netherlands, literary work is paid a lot less than technical translations. For literary work: EUR 0.062 (per 1-1-2009) is advised by the Dutch national literary translation organization. http://literairvertalen.org/wat_is_het_huidige_tarief_voor_literaire_vertalingen/index.php

The difference lies in royalty fees.

So, basically there is a different calculation for literary work (rate per word + royalties) and technical translation (rate per word).

Cheers,
Ronald


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stephbell
France
Local time: 11:29
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Salma, Jun 21, 2010

Dr. Salma St. John wrote:

Hi Stephanie and everyone,

I am currently having a similar situation.
I have been approached by a publisher to translate a book (two more to follow) that contains 350 pages and about 160,000 words. The topic falls under social sciences, and is not too technical. When I was checking translation rates for books on the internet, I cam across a freelancer who mentioned that she charged $10 per page. Is this really common? And if so, is it fair?
Your feedback is appreciated.

Salma St. John


I ended up turning down the offer and have not ventured in the world of literary translation since, so I am afraid I will not be able to help you on that topic.

Good luck,

Stéphanie


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