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Brochure "package" quote
Thread poster: Veronica Coquard

Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 07:07
French to English
Dec 5, 2007

Hello,

I am in a bit of a predicament, and am hoping that you might have some thoughts on the situation:

I was recently approached by a graphic designer who is himself searching for partners to reply to a tender offer for a brochure "package" for a tourism establishment: logo, layout and graphic design services, but also services from third parties: copywriting, ads sales, photography... and translations into several languages, of which the English version would eventually be done by me. When I spoke to him he was gathering information from these different professionals to form an idea of the global estimate that he should establish for the package.

The problem is... He doesn't yet know how long the brochure(s) might be, let alone how many words per page or any other statistics generally applied to estimate the translation work. (Which, I am sure you will note, is slightly strange, considering that he must be replying to some kind of specifications, which he did not reveal to me.) I did tell him my average rate for this type of translation per word and per hour, taking care to specify that I needed to see the text to quote on it.

Now, I do a bit of translation in different fields, but my heart is in tourism, and I'm willing to give a bit extra to get jobs like this. I'm also in the beginning of my translation carreer and am looking for partners with whom I can establish firm relationships. Last year I did some work for another graphic designer who has helped me find more clients. I therefore value this "eventual" offer and want to help make his estimate appealing. I also feel that this is an honest person - perhaps a bit wet-behind-the-ears himself, but I've seen worse...

However, I don't want to find myself promising to work for peanuts!

What to do?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
You know what to do Dec 5, 2007

Follow your best judgment and do not make any firm commitments by giving a price on a pig-in-a-poke.

Both you and your wet-behind-the-ears friend can find yourselves in a big predicament by giving in to bidding on something, then finding out it is not what you expected. That is the road to disaster.


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 23:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
A good start Dec 5, 2007

I think you did fine to give him your per-hour and per-word rates. As you are very reasonably not prepared to quote a fixed price for an unknown volume of work, I don't see what else you could do under the circumstances. I don't see how the designer can produce a specific estimate anyway without further specifications (size, printing process and number of colours, type of paper, design complexity, etc.) and when he's ready to do so, he'll be able to apply your rates. He even has the information that would be required to calculate a range of estimates for brochures with different quantites of text.

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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 07:07
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Confirmation of my gut instinct Dec 5, 2007

Hello Henry and Goodwords!

Indeed, the best I can do is stay in contact and wait for solid figures. I suppose the answer should be obvious, but when you're gagging for the work, it's not always easy to be patient.

Thanks to you both.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
When Dec 5, 2007

When you're gagging for the work, it's not always easy to be patient,

BUT...

...you just have to bite the bullet and maintain your dignity! If you show signs of weakness, there are always people who will try to take advantage of you.

That is one of the reasons why there are so many agencies and others offering miserable rates or just plain not paying, because they know there are folks out there who are hungry that they can exploit. That would include clients who would want a price commitment on a job that is ill-defined then maybe expect you to do twice the work for half the price.

Any honest client would expect you to give unitary rates (such as per-word in our case) and would not demand a fixed price for a job that is only vaguely defined. Furthermore, if I were a client I would not expect a contractor to give me a quote on such a job. As a contractor, if there are unknown quantities involved, what is usually done is to pad the price to account for such unforeseen contingencies, yet it may turn out that the job is easier than it could have been and the charge is too high.

What honest parties want is an honest and fair price for BOTH buyer and seller.

And by all means, carefully examine what your wet-behind-the-ears partner is proposing and make sure it is sound, because your good fortune can go down the drain due to his mistakes.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:07
English to Portuguese
+ ...
An airline-type mileage plan Dec 6, 2007

I've used this strategy a few times, and it worked.

Though the initial setup is quite promising, I don't think I should invest in someone else's business unless I'm part of it.

So when these VERY promising (from the client's standpoint) deals come up, I give them my fair market price. They are advised that if the thing really develops, I'll gradually give them more generous discounts. If it flops, I won't have lost money on a poor bet.

Imagine this: You go to an airline and say you are starting a foreign trade business, so you'll be travelling with them worldwide most of the time. If, based on that, they give you a considerable discount, and later - for any reason - your promising company plummets after all you've flown with them was some short-range shuttle flight, they'll have lost money with you.

So what do airlines do? After you've flown so many miles with them, you get free tickets, upgrades, whatever. So let this promising client "fly" these first miles with you before you open your box of freebies and discounts for them.

In one such case of mine, an incompetent manager in a (very large, worldwide) client "wore off" their accrued perks in one single job. I had to do the same work no less than four times, and got paid for it only once. Instead of moaning, I just warned, in writing, their senior manager that as a result of that they'd go back to my standard rates thereafter, until they gradually accrued enough "miles" again.

Eventually late payments would fit under the same umbrella.


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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 07:07
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
The classic dillema Dec 6, 2007

The more I think about it, the more this seems a variation on the classic dillema: bid too low, work for peanuts; bid too high, lose the job. With the added uncertainty of just how much job there is to be done.

Indeed, José, I don't want to give away a discount for this (or any) client. I can honestly say that my usual prices are (just about) as low as I can go because my language pair is a competitive market to say the least. The only freebies I've been known to give are one-liners from regular clients that weren't worth tallying up!

Thanks to all for the encouragement.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:07
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You cannot be sure before you see the text Dec 6, 2007

Tourism is a very broad field. It could be very boring and repetitive (all those accomodation businesses use the same arguments). But it could require lots of research on your side.
Last summer I worked on a tourism related project for one month. Later the English translator, who is in business since decades, told me, that he never had encountered a translation so challenging.


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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 07:07
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Learn something new Dec 6, 2007

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Tourism is a very broad field. It could be very boring and repetitive (all those accomodation businesses use the same arguments). But it could require lots of research on your side.
Last summer I worked on a tourism related project for one month. Later the English translator, who is in business since decades, told me, that he never had encountered a translation so challenging.


The job in question sounds like it would entail some historic research on my part, which is one of the reasons it sounds good. I certainly wouldn't take on anything over my head, but on the other hand, it's no fun translating something if you don't learn at least a little something new!


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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 01:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Having recently gone through a "gagging" period of my own Dec 6, 2007

verslanglais wrote:

Hello Henry and Goodwords!

Indeed, the best I can do is stay in contact and wait for solid figures. I suppose the answer should be obvious, but when you're gagging for the work, it's not always easy to be patient.

Thanks to you both.


I can only agree with Henry's statement about dignity. Another colleague (unfortunately I can't recall who...:( ), told me that the law of the universe is that if you refuse the jobs which take it out of you for pennies, you will be rewarded by something more worthy (cash wise...).
I must say, it sounds like a faerie tale, but it generally works. HAng in there, and don't sell yourself short or commit yourself to something too open ended.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 07:07
French to Dutch
+ ...
Give your prices and contact details Dec 6, 2007

But don't write anything and don't quote as long as you have not seen the text AND the files to be translated. In France, a "devis" is legally binding! Tourism may be: architecture and history or litterature-type texts needing lots of documentation, but also: "1 lit double de 140, 2 lits superposés, 1 salle de bains avec douche, vue sur jardin, ...". The first type of texts takes two or three times more time to be translated and therefore should cost much more. It will also depend of the software you'll be asked to use. And take care of the number of words: graphic designers don't know how to do a wordcount, and it is possible that 10,000 words means that there are 2,000 words to be translated (the rest being software codes) or 20,000 (the other words being in text boxes).


[Bijgewerkt op 2007-12-06 22:52]


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:07
English to Russian
+ ...
why don't translators Dec 8, 2007

put a small reservation into their bids/offers?

Something like - "price given in good faith all goes well always provided the final price to be additionally reconsidered and finally fixed upon presentation of the text to the translator by the customer."

It is what we call 'to fix on subjects' in shipping.
In the event the translator is happy with the text to translate (when it appears on his/her desk), the subjects are lifted. If the text is some rubbish or quantum physics for the price of peanuts - the translator does not lift subjects.
It's piece of cake!

+
As far as discounts are concerned.

Every client looking for volume discounts gets a polite reply,
" Dear Sir/Madame,

I am glad to offer you my usual price for word/hour/unit of text.
As you are speaking about huge amounts I am happy to advise that starting from the 10001st word/hour/unit of text a generous discount of N% to apply.
...
Sincerely
ST".

It works perfectly nearly in every case of a client looking for cheap options.

[Edited at 2007-12-08 11:46]

[Edited at 2007-12-08 11:48]


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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 07:07
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
I believe! Dec 10, 2007

"Another colleague (unfortunately I can't recall who...:( ), told me that the law of the universe is that if you refuse the jobs which take it out of you for pennies, you will be rewarded by something more worthy (cash wise...).
I must say, it sounds like a faerie tale, but it generally works. HAng in there, and don't sell yourself short or commit yourself to something too open ended."

Thank you for the bright words. Indeed, I have had the same experience before, and it helps to be reminded that better days are to come.

Thanks to all who replied!

[Edited at 2007-12-10 08:54]


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