On deadlines and wordcount - feedback needed
Thread poster: Anne R

Anne R
Italy
Local time: 10:05
English to French
+ ...
Mar 15, 2012

Hello all,

I have just been contacted by a potential client asking if I could do a 50 page report translation in, basically 4 days - or less if one considers that I don't know at what time they would send it one day 1 and would have to send back the translation on day 4. I was not sent any file to look at.

I answered politely that I need to see a document to assess it in terms or wordcount and subject/difficulty ìn order to be able to give an estimate of when I can send the translation back. That I have not much experience of 'page estimates' but that based on prior reports I have translated to my knowledge a page could have something like 300 to 500 words and therefore a 50 page document could be something between 15,000 and 25,000 words.

I then wrote that on this basis and without seeing the document, for a 15,000 word long report received next Monday morning I would probably sent a complete (and revised I specified) translation for the end of the week after (I also indicated 10 to 12 days works for a 15,000 word file and 16-20 days works for 25,000 words), and that if the client wanted to send me a well advanced draft today I would be able to give a better answer.

I believe I have answered more of less in the right way, but would welcome any long established translator's further comment on this just to make sure I have not made any 'big mistake'. Just wondering..

What I did not specify to this person, although it is stated in my CV that I sent to her colleague yesterday, is that I work part-time (which explains my approximatively low rate of 1500 words per day) 3 days a week and translate on the other 4 days fulltime (a a bit in the evenings of my 'employment days'), but I feel you may need that additional info to comment on this post. In my opinion, a client is not interested in knowing all the details.


Many thanks for your feedback!
Anne


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Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
I think you did the right thing Mar 15, 2012

Hi Anne,

I basically do the same. As a response I send them my quote so they can get an idea of my terms and what I can offer to them, BUT I always mention in the e-mail that I cannot bindingly accept the translation nor give a definite deadline without having consulted the original text first. For me it is like this: either I see the text or I don’t commit myself, it’s far too risky and unsure. Yes, if it is a very common document like “Articles of Association” or “Power of attorney” or so, one has an idea anyway, but it is more safe to see the text in order to commit yourself to a deadline, I think. (I usually count with one translated page/hour, but this depends a little bit..)

On the other hand me too I think that the client does not need to know all the details, he needs to know the “final result”, the exact conditions, fees and delivery deadlines, apart from quality this is the only thing which matters to the client. The details are more important to us and depend on our personal circumstances – the client might accept them or not, and, sadly, many times they don’t even respond… So I think you did the right thing, but I am curious what other colleagues might have to say!

Have a nice day,

Agnes


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Don't guess! Mar 15, 2012

Envision this... you run a travel agency, and someone asks you by e-mail how much does a plane ticket to Somberland cost, and how long does the flight take. You ask them, "From where?", and they reply "I can't tell you now, the passenger is globe-hopping, no idea on their present whereabouts." It simply doesn't make sense!

If they have a draft, that's enough to get a general idea. It will allow you to give them your source word rate for that job, as well as how many words per day you can translate... IF you don't get any other assignment before they place a firm order.


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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 10:05
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
globe-hopping Mar 15, 2012

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Envision this... you run a travel agency, and someone asks you by e-mail how much does a plane ticket to Somberland cost, and how long does the flight take. You ask them, "From where?", and they reply "I can't tell you now, the passenger is globe-hopping, no idea on their present whereabouts." It simply doesn't make sense!


Thank you, this confirms my opinion, but what about them wanting such a deadline for their 50 pages? In my experience such reports do really have as a miminum 300 words and I have worked on some which contain 450-500 words per page, and it is 'no piece of cake' kind of language. This sounded pretty impossible for me to do a quality job in 4 days on a 15,000 word (minimum!) report.?


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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 10:05
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
one translated page per hour Mar 15, 2012

Agnes Lenkey wrote:

(I usually count with one translated page/hour, but this depends a little bit..)



one translated page per hour for the kind of document I would have gotten and between 300 /500 words to me seems impossible, if I am counting as well the time spent to do my own final checking and proofreading of my translation before sending it back! wow


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
They may want whatever they wish Mar 15, 2012

Anne Rabier wrote:
Thank you, this confirms my opinion, but what about them wanting such a deadline for their 50 pages?


The same traveller example applies... "I'm in Los Angeles, and I want to be in Rome within the next two hours." Unless Superman is in your staff, no way, Jose!


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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 10:05
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Superman Mar 15, 2012

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

The same traveller example applies... "I'm in Los Angeles, and I want to be in Rome within the next two hours." Unless Superman is in your staff, no way, Jose!


)


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Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
one page per hour - without proofreading Mar 15, 2012

Hi Anne,

Yes indeed, this is a very general "rule of thumb" for me, if the text is very difficult, it might be more; usually one hour per page is true because sometimes the page is done in 30 minutes, sometimes in two hours...that's why I said it is only a general calculation I normally apply and it functions for me. I forgot to mention that I ALWAYS try to add one day for revision, or more if it is a long translation or if there is any possibility to achieve it..

I think it is difficult to make a general statement. But I normally manage 6-8 pages in one day, depending on how much time I have. And it is interesting to know how others calculate the "bearable work load", for sure everybody has his own method. It would be interesting to hear more about it!

Regards,

Agnes



[Edited at 2012-03-15 21:14 GMT]


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