Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Literary translation rates - how low do i go?
Thread poster: Wendy Cummings

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 12, 2005

Firstly, my heartfelt thanks to Proz and all its members. I have used these forums so much recently, and they have been of such help.

I would very much appreciate some advice on quite a specific money matter.

I am quite new to translating, although I have done paid work on and off for a couple of years now. I recently received an offer to translate a novel of 40,000 words(potentially the first of four Ru>En). I explained that I am not a literary translator, but the author was very happy with my test piece and asked for a quote anyway. Not having done any work on this scale before, and really not sure what is a going rate for literary, I quoted £3,000.

She has just come back to me and said the other quotes she has received are £770, £1600 and £2000, and would I therefore agree to cut my rates?

I am now very unsure what to do. I have no desire to undervalue my work, but nevertheless I would love this opportunity to be involved in a large project of this nature.

Can anyone advice me what is a suitable going rate for literary translation, as i really feel that being paid £770 for 40,000 words is close to prostituting myself. Am i being too demanding? Or is it really as cut-throat as this?

Many many thanks in advance.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Myriam Garcia Bernabe  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
Recommended rates for literary translation Jun 12, 2005

UK recommended rates for prose translation would be £0.07 per word and that makes it £2800 for 40,000. You were not really so far off.

Only you can decide if you cut your rates and take this job but bear in mind that it might not be true that they have received offers at lower rates.

Alternatively, you could cut a deal that gives you a percentage of the sale rights or intellectual rights. You should investigate this properly.

Good luck,
Myriam


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jun 12, 2005

Thanks Myriam.

Myriam Garcia Bernabe wrote:
Only you can decide if you cut your rates and take this job but bear in mind that it might not be true that they have received offers at lower rates.


She has now forwarded me the emails from the other agencies, so unfortunately I do think that the other quotes are genuine. I can't help but notice though that one of the emails is full of spelling mistakes, and the other is a quote from a non-native speaker, but who said that he has an English friend who would proof read....

Myriam Garcia Bernabe wrote:
Alternatively, you could cut a deal that gives you a percentage of the sale rights or intellectual rights. You should investigate this properly.


I did touch on this subject very briefly, as again I am not familiar with literary translation practices, but she indicated that she was only prepared to pay a flat fee.

This is a horrible dilemma that I resent being faced with, as (excuse the moan!) I do not think I should be forced to haggle to provide what I hope is a professional service and good quality translation.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
they're looking for a discount Jun 12, 2005

Wendy Leech wrote:
She has now forwarded me the emails from the other agencies, so unfortunately I do think that the other quotes are genuine. I can't help but notice though that one of the emails is full of spelling mistakes, and the other is a quote from a non-native speaker, but who said that he has an English friend who would proof read....


I am not an expert on literary translation by any means but if I were given that volume of work I may be willing to give a discount to GBP0.05-0.06 per word (5 pence is exactly 2000 for the project). In any case, naturally it's your decision.


This is a horrible dilemma that I resent being faced with, as (excuse the moan!) I do not think I should be forced to haggle to provide what I hope is a professional service and good quality translation.


Negotiating with your clients is part of being a freelancer and it's something you need to be able to do if you don't want to lose out. From what you say it seems to me like your client is looking for a discount - the other offers are clearly from people who would not do this job well, which is exactly why she has come back to you rather than accept their lower offers. I would give a discount of anywhere from 200 to 500 pounds since your original quote was reasonably high.

All the best


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Konstantin Jun 12, 2005

.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sarah Brenchley  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stick to your guns Jun 12, 2005

I am fairly stubborn and I would probably stick to my original price. You might well lose the job but then it would be better than being stuck with a very long job for very little money. You are more likely to do the job well and take greater pride in your work if you are happy with how much you are bing paid for it. The contractor is probably more interested in you doing the job anyway which is why she has got back to you with the other quotes she had received.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:29
German to English
+ ...
GBP 770 for a month's work?! Jun 12, 2005

Like Konstantin I am not an expert in literary translations. But think of it in terms of your time/output: Suppose you can translate 2000 words per day. 40,000 words at 2000 words per day is 20 work days. If you take weekends off that is 4 weeks of work, full-time. The low-ball rate is GBP 770. This is not seriously the monthly income you want to be working for, is it? Even if you got no other work, i.e. you declined the job and did other things that month, in my opinion your time would be much better spent acquiring new customers, designing a brochure, establishing a marketing plan, etc.

You may however be able to turn the situation to your advantage. Perhaps you could discount your offer slightly (meaning to somewhere between your offer and GBP 2000). You could then use the opportunity to convince the customer why she should absolutely positively pick *you* for the job (cite your Dip. Trans, your native proficiency, your experience, etc.). You might also try to educate your client a bit, for instance about the potential dangers of working with non-native translators, how if she invests a bit more now the book will sell accordingly better, etc.

But in the long run I think your offer is not that unreasonable and I would be totally prepared to walk away from this job. Being a successful freelancer means knowing when *not* to waste one's time with something.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Sarah Jun 12, 2005

.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Jun 12, 2005

Michele Johnson wrote:

But think of it in terms of your time/output: Suppose you can translate 2000 words per day. 40,000 words at 2000 words per day is 20 work days. If you take weekends off that is 4 weeks of work, full-time. The low-ball rate is GBP 770. This is not seriously the monthly income you want to be working for, is it?

I hadn't thought of it that way before, and it makes it much easier to see what is a decent rate.


You might also try to educate your client a bit, for instance about the potential dangers of working with non-native translators, how if she invests a bit more now the book will sell accordingly better, etc.


That's a really good idea too. I think I will offer to lower my rate a bit, and also explain why I am not prepared to go any lower.

If I do lose the job, at least I will know I didn't undervalue my services and therefore feel better in myself.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Daniele Martoglio  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:29
Polish to Italian
+ ...
my opinion... Jun 12, 2005

May be that you client is not aware about how is dangerous
to make a cheap translation and after "a friend proofread"..

I made proofreading of this "translation" for documents
send to Holy See for very important things.. and in
this "translation" someone wrote that in Vatican exist
"Congregation for Holy Business" and that the pope is a
woman! It's not a joke..

If i will have a little of time i collect this "error"
in my web page, to explain "WHY YOU CANNOT TO PAY TO LOW".

Anyway may be that:
1) the offers are real
2) your client ALREADY know that such translators can be "dangerous"
3) he's simply "using" the other offers to have a discount from you.

So i propose to answer to the question: which is your "MINIMUM" of money to make this work and be happy. And if you can low a little under 3000 GBP, do it. But DON'T CARE about "other offers"...

Daniele


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Daniele Jun 12, 2005

I have now replied, lowering my rates to a minimum that I am prepared to do. I also pointed her in the direction of the ITI's advice on buying translation for businesses, (http://www.iti.org.uk/pdfs/trans/Translation(UK).pdf) pointing out that a poor quality translation would reflect on her as an author, and if she wishes to publish a trilogy or more of books, then a cheap translation could spell commercial suicide (well, I didn't use those exact words, but I got the message across!)

Thank you everyone.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
Don't forget to let us know how it goes! Jun 12, 2005

One of the reasons I am a translator is my unquashable curiosity! Having contributed to this discussion I am now very interested in the result! So, if you don't mind, let us know

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
watch this space Jun 12, 2005

Konstantin Kisin wrote:

One of the reasons I am a translator is my unquashable curiosity! Having contributed to this discussion I am now very interested in the result! So, if you don't mind, let us know


no probs, will do!!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Member (2004)
Italian to English
I'm envious Jun 12, 2005

Hi Wendy
Have followed the discussion with interest. Frankly, I'm envious that you could get even £0.05 for literary translation. It's an area that's notoriously difficult to break into even for experienced translators. It's said that only a handful of translators (those retained by publishers) can make any respectable money from it and others do it just for the love of language.
Even if there were any work in my language pair (it's almost all in the opposite direction), the rates you're talking about would be unachievable.
You obviously chose the right languages. Good luck.
Russell


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:29
Italian to English
+ ...
the ball is entirely in your court, Wendy Jun 12, 2005

If your client was happy to work with the other translators offering £770 etc. then why would they be in discussions with you? Because you are clearly numero uno. The ball is in your court - don't sell yourself short.
All the best and good luck,
Amy


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Literary translation rates - how low do i go?

Advanced search


Translation news





memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs