Are there any special instructions or considerations when quoting to translate a whole book?
Thread poster: Nadja B Batdorf

Nadja B Batdorf  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:56
Member (2009)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Jun 4, 2012

Hello everyone,

I have recently received an inquiry from a client asking for quote to translate his book which has 240 pages (approximately 400 words per page). The client even said that he may have 2 more books with the same number of pages and words per page.

Does anybody know if there is any different way or things to take into account when quoting this kind of translation service? I know that some colleagues charge per page instead of per word. How can we offer a reasonable price that is worth it for both sides?

Thank you in advance for all help and experience shared.
All suggestions and comments are very welcome.



Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:56
Member
English to German
+ ...
Why should the rate be different? Jun 4, 2012

Why should the rate be different?
Just because it's a book? The work is the same, or not?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nadja B Batdorf  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:56
Member (2009)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes it is the same Jun 5, 2012

This question came up to my mind because I sent the client a quote per word and even offered him discounts on repetitions etc.
My rates were within the market standards.

He replied to me very surprised with the total amount and said he could not afford that.

I dont think I am doing anything wrong tho...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:56
English to German
+ ...
who's the client Jun 5, 2012

Nadja B Batdorf wrote:

This question came up to my mind because I sent the client a quote per word and even offered him discounts on repetitions etc.
My rates were within the market standards.

He replied to me very surprised with the total amount and said he could not afford that.

I dont think I am doing anything wrong tho...


A real publisher?
A private person? Not the author?

There are certainly many things to consider before you translate a book (for a publisher that is, and I wouldn't translate it for a private person)
What kind of book is it? And what kind of repetitions are you referring to?

Read the first link. Then think .........................
Then read the other links. As you will see, it seems many literary translators (full-time ones) are very underpaid, in Europe as well as in the US.

To me, it really depends on who and what literary work/author you are dealing with and what they are looking for when using the translation. That will have a major impact on IF I would undertake such a project at all.

Translating a book of fiction, and doing it well (that should be a given) is ART, not just translating contracts etc, manuals, etc. There is potential for profit based on YOUR art.
This is an area where translators should stand their ground as far as remunerations (+ rights and possible royalties) are concerned. Note (for newbies: you need to get paid Money + Rights (Your Name in the Book, Copyright of Your Translation + Be Guaranteed a Percentage of the Sales (Royalties) ) - Don't touch a book if they promise you just royalties!!!!!

The article in the first link is a discussion based on findings by CEATL in 2008/09.
Especially disappointing: the comparisons between literary translator’s annual earnings compared to the average manufacturing/service employees (in various European countries):

http://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/index.php?id=1732

------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.ceatl.eu/current-situation/working-conditions
http://www.ceatl.eu/translators-rights/legal-status#s2.


http://www.proz.com/forum/poll_discussion/219634-poll:_have_you_ever_translated_a_whole_book_by_yourself-page2.html

http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/203809-does_the_translator_have_the_right_to_a_copyright_as_well_as_the_publisher_editor.html

http://www.nea.gov/news/news09/translation.html



http://www.nea.gov/news/news09/translation.html
National Endowment for the Arts Supports Literary Translation With 16 Literature Fellowships

B

[Edited at 2012-06-05 03:26 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:56
English to German
+ ...
literary translations are special Jun 5, 2012

Marina Steinbach wrote:

Why should the rate be different?
Just because it's a book? The work is the same, or not?



Hi Marina,

I would argue the work is not the same if you compare translating a book of fiction to translating a legal contract. In fiction, you are expected to use language much more creatively to do the original justice, and every translation can be a new and different challenge.
In a contract, you follow established jargon (for the most part).

I agree with the sentiment of your post, namely that literary translations should in no way be carried out at a cheaper rate than other translations; in most cases they deserve a lot more compensation (this ties in to copyright issues and royalties).
Discount for repetitions? Excuse me? (see Nadja's first post).

B

[Edited at 2012-06-05 22:23 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:56
Member
English to German
+ ...
The art and craft of literary translation… Jun 5, 2012

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

I would argue the work is not the same if you compare translating a book of fiction to translating a legal contract. In fiction, you are expected to use language much more creatively to do the original justice, and every translation can be a new and different challenge.


Hi B,

I quite agree with you. The art and craft of literary translation is underestimated. If you are not able to write a short story, a poem etc. yourself, then you are most likely not able to translate literature.

Professionally, I've never translated a literary text. However, I know that you don't just translate simple phrases, but transmit a literary work into a different linguistic context. It's about diversity and reflecting cultural integration. Accuracy, stylistic sensitivity and humor or historical, literary and popular references differ from culture to culture and characterize a literary work. Such phenomena are special challenges for a translator.

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

In a contract, you follow established jargon (for the most part).


That’s one of the reasons why I don’t translate contracts.

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

I agree with the sentiment of your post, namely that literary translations should in no way be carried out a cheaper rate than other translations; in most cases they deserve a lot more compensation (this ties in to copyright issues and royalties).
Discount for repetitions? Excuse me? (see Nadja's first post).


I couldn’t agree with you more. However, as a newbie in literary translations it would certainly be difficult to insist on e.g. royalties.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
English to Tamil
+ ...
If you are given the printed book for translation, where do repetitions come in? Jun 5, 2012

Or I don't know something that others do?

Regards,
N. Raghavan

[Edited at 2012-06-06 01:12 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nadja B Batdorf  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:56
Member (2009)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The file is not a hard copy in pdf Jun 5, 2012

The client sent the file in MS word.
That is why I could count the number of repetitions...


Direct link Reply with quote
 
The Misha
Local time: 04:56
Russian to English
+ ...
I wouldn't touch literary translation with a mile-long pole - Jun 5, 2012

even at my regular rates. As a money-maker, it's a non-starter since the effort required would in fact be well above and beyond that needed for a contract, a balance sheet or a user manual. Undertaking a major project, such as translating a book, for a mere promise of future royalties is a joke from a business standpoint - since you are basically agreeing to go into business with the author, or the publisher. Most books, especially translated ones, don't sell anyway, not in the US that is.

If you want an outlet for your creativity, write your own fiction, or go fish. That's what I do.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rafael Mondini Bueno  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
English to Portuguese
Wow Jun 6, 2012

The Misha wrote:

If you want an outlet for your creativity, write your own fiction, or go fish. That's what I do.


Having just finished reading "Crime and Punishment" for the second time, in a second different translation (and what a fantastic translation it is), I not only beg to differ, but I find this line of thought very disturbing.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
English to Tamil
+ ...
And do you know what the fantastic translator would have been paid? Jun 6, 2012

If you go deep into that question, you would be surprised and get further disturbing thoughts.

Regards,
N. Raghavan

Rafael Mondini Bueno wrote:

The Misha wrote:

If you want an outlet for your creativity, write your own fiction, or go fish. That's what I do.


Having just finished reading "Crime and Punishment" for the second time, in a second different translation (and what a fantastic translation it is), I not only beg to differ, but I find this line of thought very disturbing.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rafael Mondini Bueno  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
English to Portuguese
I see your point Jun 6, 2012

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

If you go deep into that question, you would be surprised and get further disturbing thoughts.

Regards,
N. Raghavan

Rafael Mondini Bueno wrote:

The Misha wrote:

If you want an outlet for your creativity, write your own fiction, or go fish. That's what I do.


Having just finished reading "Crime and Punishment" for the second time, in a second different translation (and what a fantastic translation it is), I not only beg to differ, but I find this line of thought very disturbing.


But the attitude I tried to underline in my comment regarding The Misha's post still stands: should people refrain from doing really good translations of literary works just because it is a kind of job that doesn't get paid accordingly? Also, how is fishing or writing your own fiction going to revert this picture, of literary translators having to, as we say here in Brazil, "sell their lunch to buy dinner"? It is a gross underestimation of the importance of literary translation (I don't work in this field, just to make it clear) and the craft that it demands, not to mention the commodification of translation as a whole that this kind of discourse proposes. And to think that people here are always ready to get jumpy when somebody offers a job that pays 2 cents per word...


Direct link Reply with quote
 
The Misha
Local time: 04:56
Russian to English
+ ...
What is so disturbing about a purely business decision? Jun 6, 2012

If you have an independent source of income and plenty of time on your hands to do literary translation, or, alternatively, know of a way to do it profitably (I don't), I say power to you and God bless. However, I am in this for the money, and I need to make a certain number of dollars per hour to make it worth my while. After all, if you don't reasonably expect to make money selling shoes or, say, commercial airliners, you won't be selling them, right? I think that the sooner we all start treating this occupation for what it is, a business, rather than a "calling", a "selfless service" or "your life's work" the better and more transparent this industry will be for all the parties involved.

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Are there any special instructions or considerations when quoting to translate a whole book?

Advanced search







Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search