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literary translation - reasonable deadlines
Thread poster: Marionlam

Marionlam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
English to French
+ ...
Aug 6, 2014

Hi all,

I'm putting together my first proposal for the translation of a book. It is 120,000 pages long, and I have absolutely no idea how long it's likely to take me, or how long the publisher is expecting it to take. I don't want to put the publisher off by asking for too long, but I do want it to be realistic.

For a commercial translation, I would normally aim for circa 2,000 words a day, but I suspect the creative aspect of this, added to the final proofreading might slow things down a little...

What do you think ?

Thanks a lot for your input!


 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:44
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Pages or words? Aug 6, 2014

120,000 pages would take, eh, the rest of your life.

Cheers,
Gerard


 

DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 06:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
120,000 words surely! Aug 6, 2014

So min of 60 days, but 3+ months is more likely really, say 600 working hours. Typically working out at about 7 euro per hour?

 

Marionlam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
120,000 words, yes, sorry! Aug 6, 2014

Gerard de Noord wrote:

120,000 pages would take, eh, the rest of your life.

Cheers,
Gerard


Quite....! Thanks!


 

Marionlam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sounds scary :-) Aug 6, 2014

DLyons wrote:

So min of 60 days, but 3+ months is more likely really, say 600 working hours. Typically working out at about 7 euro per hour?


I was going to go with 120 days.... I'm worried that, as it's my first one, i might be a little slow, too...

Current budget is just under 10,000USD - does that sound ok?


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:44
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
3 to 4 months - budget does not seem to be high Aug 6, 2014

I'd say 3 to 4 months to be on the safe side. Do you also want to work on weekends or not?

Concerning the price you should think about how much money you want or need to earn in about 3 months to be able to live decently.

10,000 USD are about 7460 € I think. For someone living in France this would not be enough.

[Modifié le 2014-08-06 22:11 GMT]


 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:44
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
3 months for the translation Aug 6, 2014

DLyons wrote:

So min of 60 days, but 3+ months is more likely really, say 600 working hours. Typically working out at about 7 euro per hour?


3 to 4 months would be a win-win for everybody. Don't accept to deliver parts of the translation every month or week if you're not translating a sure bestseller. You are the one who translates as best as you can and rereads and corrects all mistakes before sending your work to an editor at the publishing house. The editor might or might not want to confer with you, she corrects the text and delivers her version of the work to the printer who typesets the translation and, nowadays, sends back a PDF file to the editor to proofread the translation.

Now it gets vague. Some publishing houses send back the final proof to the translator to OK printing. Are they honouring your work or are they trying to make you responsible for any mistakes in the end result? Be prepared to do this extra week of work for free or negotiate beforehand.

Cheers,
Gerard


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:44
Russian to English
+ ...
About 500 pages-- I agree about three months for translation Aug 7, 2014

and another month for proofreading and making changes. About four months of full-time work.

 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:44
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
I have been there... Aug 7, 2014

And I think 3-4 months is realistic.

But I tell you, depending on how many other requests you receive during that period, it can be frustrating having to decline good offers.


 
I agree Aug 7, 2014

Hi Marionlam !!

I agreed with "Yetta J Bogarde"


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:44
Russian to English
+ ...
$10, 000 and up Aug 7, 2014

sounds Ok to me. Probably more like $12,000-25,000, though. Perhaps you can negotiate with them.

[Edited at 2014-08-07 13:24 GMT]


 

Marionlam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Aug 7, 2014

I've just sent my proposal for 120 days, and i have accepted the proposed budget (it also comes with 2% royalties), and since I have little literary experience to offer...

Thanks a lot for your input!


 

Marionlam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I got an offer..... Sep 8, 2014

Well, I didn't think I would, but I've got a contract in my inbox!

So here is what I've been offered (it's a different book):

USD 7,350 + 2% royalties
91,674 words (374 pages)
3 months

Bearing in mind this would be my first book translation, I'm very tempted indeed (and a little scared, too)

What do you think?

Thanks


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:44
German to English
+ ...
sounds familiar Sep 8, 2014

The way you describe the contract being presented to you rings a bell.

Take a look at this open letter written (in French) by the committee of ATLF, the French association of literary translators.

If you are considering signing that contract, you really should obtain legal advice beforehand.

(A couple of initial questions for you: 2% of what? And what rights would you retain in your work?)


 

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:44
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
sounds low to me, but... Sep 8, 2014

Your new offer amounts to about USD .08 per word, which is a very low rate for non-book translation. I've only translated a quite short book, and share your concerns/ignorance. Depending on how difficult the material is -- whether it is excellent literature or, say, a self-help book on fixing bicycles -- the time required will vary enormously. There is also the factor that if you have other clients, who request your services on a regular basis, you will quite likely lose them. On the plus side: you have steady work until the job is done and you gain a book translation for your resume, which will undoubtedly help you for future prospects of this nature.

The rate you are offered is not something one could live on in the Washington DC metro area, that's for sure.

So if you're going to take it, you'd better 1) really love the book and 2) not rely on it as your sole source of income.

On the question of royalties (bearing in mind my above-mentioned ignorance!), you have to try to guess what the chances are that the book will actually sell. Is it a well-known publisher? Is the author prominent? The 2% royalties could be a substantial sum -- or nothing.

Good luck.


 
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