Got my first ever literary translation job offer... a bunch of questions...
Thread poster: KKastenhuber

KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:11
Russian to German
+ ...
Jul 23, 2010

Hello everyone!

A couple of days ago I got my first ever literary translation job offer (Ru-Ge). It seems extremely interesting, comes at the perfectly right time and overall, I would LOVE to do it. It's for a russian literature magazine that is about to publish a book which will contain their best contributions so far. Now they're planning a similar book in German (as I understand it, "similar" means that the german version will not necessarily contain the same texts as the russian version, since other contributions might be more interesting for a German speaking audience).

As the exact composition of the "original" I'm going to translate is yet to be agreed upon, the only thing I know is that the book is going to contain around 125-150 pages of text. Now I've been asked for my rates, and I'm absolutely clueless in so many ways... I know that a small russian literary magazine most probably won't have the capacities to pay me a decent rate (by austrian standards). On the other hand, Austria is where I live and spend my money, so I cannot afford to charge as little as a translator in Russia would charge. I don't even know who is going to distribute the book on the german/austrian market. Shouldn't they, whoever they are, be supposed to be responsible for my payment? Would it be legitimate for me to ask my russian contact person WHO is eventually going to cover the expenses for the translation, or is that none of my business as long as I'm getting paid? If I knew that a german publishing house had ordered the translation, I would without a doubt go for an average German/Austrian rate. But what if they're covering it themselves? Such a rate would most definitely exceed their budget by far, and I just don't want to chase them away and have them give the job to someone else.

Also, how do you deal with different ways of giving rates/charging? In Austria, literary translations are charged by standard page, but then again I guess nobody but writers and translators know what a standard page actually is, and I don't think it is used in Russia at all (not sure about that, though). Should I charge Austrian style and explain the standard page thing? Should I just convert to a (less profitable for me but easier to understand) amount/characters-scheme?

I could also use some general advice from translators who work in language pairs like Ru-Ge, where there are huge gaps in living cost, living standards and prices for translations. I have been offered jobs Ru-Ge from Russia before, but the payment they offer is about 1/10 from the average here. (I have never accepted.) Are we doomed to only accept translation work when it's a German company that asks for it?


I'll be glad about any hints I can get. Information in the translation business is always so vague, it's depressing.


Thanks in advance!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2013-07-31 08:18 GMT]


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:11
English to German
+ ...
I wouldn't charge less. Jul 24, 2010

After all, the book will be marketed and sold in Germany, at German prices. It is not our job to take care of our clients' profit margins.

 

KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:11
Russian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's what I was thinking... Jul 24, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

After all, the book will be marketed and sold in Germany, at German prices. It is not our job to take care of our clients' profit margins.


Thanks for your opinion, I think I'm going to handle it that way and see what they think. At least I know for sure they definitely want me for the job, so maybe this also helps.

Any ideas for my other questions?

Thanks.


 

KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:11
Russian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Why, oh why... Jul 24, 2010

Why is it SO hard to get any answers to questions, especially when they're related to literary translation?

How should a newcomer learn to appropriately respond to an inquiry when nobody ever gives them any advice on how it's done? Is this how the business works? "The more everybody else fails, the more money I can make?"


I'll eventually have to name a rate, so maybe anyone with experience in the field can give me some feedback. Say, I'll charge 18€/1800 keystrokes, as this seems to be the easiest way to handle things. Would that be a lot? Not enough? It seems a lot to me, but how would I know - never having done anything of the sort, I'll have to rely on what I'm told. (BTW, I live in Austria, don't hold a degree yet, but am getting there).

I used page 20 of this document http://www.ceatl.eu/docs/surveyuk.pdf as an orientation, but have no idea if the figures given on it actually represent what it's like in reality.



I would be forever grateful if anyone shared their wisdom with me. If you prefer to give me an insight in the literary translation business privately, feel free to send me a message.

[Edited at 2010-07-24 16:41 GMT]


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:11
English to German
+ ...
I sent you an email Jul 24, 2010

KKastenhuber wrote:
If you prefer to give me an insight in the literary translation business privately, feel free to send me a message.

[Edited at 2010-07-24 16:41 GMT]


icon_smile.gif


 

Colin Ryan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:11
Italian to English
+ ...
Insight into the literary translation business... Jul 26, 2010

The simple truth of it is, translating literature is done more for love than it is for money. If you can make a decent crust doing it, well and good, but as things currently stand - i.e. with no organised writers' guild to defend our rights, as is the situation in Hollywood, for example - we "do it anyway".

Just my 2 cents.


 


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