How much would you charge for this "job"?
Thread poster: Ivana de Sousa Santos
A friend of mine challenged me to read four books of universal literature and make a one-page summary of each one of them. The books must be read in English and the summary must be done in English too.
I can't quite remember the titles of the four books, but two of them are Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" and Cervantes's "Don Quijote" (he actually called me more than a month ago so I can't remember the titles of the other two).
As he knows I'm on the translation business and that it would take me some time to do that work (and I will also have to refuse some jobs because of that), he wants to pay me for that work. He asked me to deal with that as if it was a translation, but I don't really know how to charge for it and I would like some advice. He says money is no problem, but I know him for a long time already, you see? I have a 3-months delay to do it.
Considering that I charge 0,05€/word for translation and 0,02€/word for proofreading, how much do you think I could charge him for this work? I will have to read the four books and then do the one-page summary.
Thank you in advance for any advice.
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I would charge your friend $600 a day.
For translations, I charge 15 cents a word, and I can translate (from raw copy to camera-ready copy) about 4,000 words a day. I have done this for many years for the major international financial institutions (World Bank, IMF, IDB, ECLAC) and they seem happy enough with my output to keep paying me at that rate. So, for translation, I charge about $600 a day.
I charge less for copyediting (exactly half: 7.5 cents per word in the source text). But I’m never asked to write a summary of the source text and, when I copyedit, the source text is always in one of my native languages. Plus, normally I arrange my time so that I never have to refuse other jobs while I’m editing.
I’ve never been asked simply to read something. My day-rate for doing stuff at the IDB/World Bank and so on is $450 a day.
What I would do: calculate how long it will take me to read the Quixote carefully enough to write a summary of it (about 5 days, but it’s in my mother tongue):
5 x $450 = $2,250. (subtotal 1)
Then, calculate how long it would take to write a proper summary of “Don Quixote” (about a day, if I’ve made proper notes during the reading): 1 x $450 = $450.
$2,250 + $450 = $2,700. (subtotal 2).
Then (in your case alone), add whatever amount of money you lose by foregoing jobs so that you can spend time reading the Quixote. I have no idea what monetary value you would place on that, but let’s call it $300.
$300 + $2,700 = $3,000 (subtotal 3).
Then I would calculate how long it will take me to re-read the hyper-dull Crane book carefully enough to write a summary of it (about 3 days, but it’s in my other mother tongue): 3 x $450 = $1,350.
I’d add that to subtotal 3.
$3,000 + $1,350 = $4,350 (subtotal 4).
Then (in your case alone), add whatever amount of money you lose by foregoing jobs so that you can spend time reading the Crane. I have no idea what monetary value you would place on that, but let’s call it $300.
$300 + $4,350 = $4,650 (subtotal 5).
Then I would calculate how long it would take me to read the two books that you strangely forgot, and to read both of them carefully enough to write summaries of them. I don’t know what those books are (one of them could be the Bible, or the complete works of my man Mr. Shakespeare), but let’s say that they take four days each (8 days) to read and one day each (2 days) to write a summary about. That’s 10 days. 10 x $450 = $4,500.
$4,500 + $4,350 = $8,850 (subtotal 6).
Then (in your case alone), add whatever amount of money you lose by foregoing jobs so that you can spend time reading the two books whose titles you forgot. I have no idea what monetary value you would place on that, but let’s call it $700.
$700 + $8,850 = $9,950 (subtotal 7).
For general grief and so on, I would charge $500.
$50 + $9,950 = $10,000 (total).
In short, I would charge $10,000 dollars for your project. But since this is for a friend, and you’ve known the friend a long time, I would forego the $50 for grief.
So, the grand total would be $9,950.
Of course, if the friend is not a really good friend, I’d just go ahead and charge the whole $10,000.
Hope this helps. Boa sorte.
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| | Charlesp
Local time: 05:46
| it depends upon if you find the books interesting || Dec 8, 2004 |
And it depends on the economic worth of the project.
What is the economic gain that your friend expects from this?
Then work out a fair sharing of it. That is how I would approach it.
| | vixen
Local time: 06:46
English to Dutch
| What does your friend want to do with these summaries? || Dec 8, 2004 |
Since the books you mentioned are world-famous, there are probably already summaries of these books circulating on the Internet. So, if your friend needs these summaries for his own use, e.g. for his education, he should simply google for the book title + 'summary'.
A summary of The Red Badge of Courage can be found at http://www.gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/redbadge/
If he wants to publish these summaries, you will have to work from scratch and should calculate a price per hour.
| Academic purposes || Dec 8, 2004 |
My friend needs these summaries for academic purposes.
| maybe a bit off-topic || Dec 8, 2004 |
About two and a half years ago I posted something about book reviews at
If you go to the above link first and then move on to the summary of Don Quixote below, you'll understand
Ultra-Condensed by Scott Kvizdos
Chivalry demands I destroy that evil thing.
No, master. It is something ordinary and harmless.
More of this at
All kidding put aside, you may find some very useful info at
You can't, of course, go and charge people 10.000 usd (or so) for a few book reviews unless you'd be a very very famous writer (and even then), but I'm sure you can come up with existing book reviews which would be of help to your friend if you searched the web a bit.
And agree on a decent rate per hour.
E.g. Try this link:
Anyway, if you didn't read the books you mentioned yet, I'd start doing this anyway.
Can't say I ever read The Red Badge of Courage myself, but I certainly enjoyed reading Cervantes!
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| | vixen
Local time: 06:46
English to Dutch
If your friend really wants you to do the work from scratch instead of using existing summaries, an hourly rate reflecting your translation rate seems reasonable. Simply keep in mind that the time that you need to spend on this job cannot be spent on your normal translation work.
You could start with an estimate for one book and then evaluate afterwards if the actual time spent on reading and summarizing matches your estimate. On the basis of this evaluation, you can
then give (adjusted) estimates for the other three books.
The rate for writing and editing/revising is normally a bit higher than that for translation, but getting paid for reading world literature does not seem such a bad job.
| Rates of pay || Dec 31, 2004 |
[quote]Evert DELOOF-SYS wrote:
You can't, of course, go and charge people 10.000 usd (or so) for a few book reviews [quote]
Wholly untrue, at least in the part of the world where I live.
On the corner where I hang out, you can do anything you want to do, as long as it is not demonstrably harmful to someone else. You take your chances. You name your price. If the seller doesn’t like your price, you walk away.
I’ve always been mystified by the (very many) posts on this site from people complaining about the low rates for which some people are prepared to work. I’ve never understood why this is a subject for discussion.
Another thing I’ve never understood in this “Community” is why (when some beginner asks about rates of pay) nobody ever says” “I charge 14 cents a word”, or “$450 a day” or something that might actually help.
[Edited at 2005-01-01 07:53]