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US Rates/Quote: book writing and translation. Advice needed.
Thread poster: TranslateThis
TranslateThis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 1, 2006

Rates: book writing and translation

I was approached by an accomplished scientist who would like me to write his biography. The project would involve extensive research, interviews and writing (in English). Then the book would be translated into another language. I am not sure how to come up with a quote for this particular project. I am a decent writer, nevertheless, if the budget allows, I would like to use an editor at least for the English version of the book. The client wants a quote for the whole project so that he can prepare a contract. He does not have a budget in mind at this point (of course, as always, the less it costs the better). I, on the other hand, would not want to end up working for peanuts.

Any advice regarding rates in the US would be appreciated here on the forum or via e-mail. Thank you!

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:51
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
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Some advice Mar 1, 2006

I can't answer to the rates for such a project but I would caution you against letting your (or the scientist's) enthusiasm get away with you and setting this up on your own.

First of all, does this scientist have a publisher? Don't start on a book without some guarantee that it will be published. The writing of a book begins with an elaborate book proposal, including a rationale (why is this interesting, who will buy the book, etc.), timeline, outline, table of contents, and and introduction or (part of) the first chapter. It should include not only the credentials of the scientist but also your credentials as a writer. There are entire books on the market on how to write a good book proposal. Don't necessarily accept the first offer - shop around. Only when the proposal has been accepted by a publisher and a contract signed would you actually start on the book. Count on the writing alone to take about 2 years and, certainly towards the end, consuming your every waking hour. Consider the possibility that once it is finished you may not feel like translating it anymore, so you may want to negotiate first option on the translation but not commit yourself to that ahead of time.

You may want to think very carefully whether you want to 1) get paid by the scientist (in which case you would have to set up a contract with him/her) or whether you want to 2) do the writing for free in return for (co)authorship and (a share of the) royalties (in which case you will have a contract with the publisher). In the first scenario you have a guarantee, in the second you don't. Much depends on how the book is marketed and how well it sells.

I would ensure that you have one or more trustworthy and reliable editors involved from the beginning, with whom you may want to set up a separate contract. Any contract should include provisions for non-compliance, conflicts, etc. It would be advisable to consult a lawyer to set up the contract(s).

I don't want to rain on your parade but I speak from experience. Others may have more to add. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

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TranslateThis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thanks! Mar 3, 2006

Thank you for your very helpful post, Tina. I will contact you via e-mail.

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US Rates/Quote: book writing and translation. Advice needed.

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