First Novel Translation from French to English
Thread poster: revelleca

revelleca  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
French to English
+ ...
Nov 15, 2012

Hi fellow translators. I need your feedback please. I have been chosen to translate a novel from French to English that is 91,570 words. This is my first novel translation, and I am wondering the follow:

1. How much do I quote/charge: Normally, my rate is 0.09 USD per source word. So, do I charge a discount, and if so how much?

2. Do I charge a separate rate for proofreading? My normal rate is 0.03. And again, if so how much.

3. Or, should I combine the translation and proofreading into one cost.

4. What is a reasonable turnaround time for translation and proofreading. Should I work on weekends or only during the week (I don't want to work on weekends). My average translated word rate is 2500.

5. Is there anything else I should consider when doing this job?

Thanks so much for your advice and expertise, in advance.

- Revelleca


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
Russian to English
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It all depends. The translation rates are slightly lower than for other types of translation Nov 15, 2012

for some reason, so $0.9 or $0.10/word sounds Ok, but you should make the decision yourself.
They don't pay extra for editing -- editing is a part of every translation job, to a certain extent. I don't think you are responsible for final proofreading, because publishing houses use their own proofreaders anyhow -- just do the best you can, regardless of that. You may also be entitled to royalties. (check with the client). As to delivery time -- you need much more time to produce a really good literary translation, compared to other types of translation, because after all, it is like writing the book anew -- a very creative process, and sometimes, when you are not in a translation mood it may take a toll on the translation. I would say, add at least 2 weeks to the time you need for translation of a similar volume text. I would think a reasonable time for a 100,000 word novel would be approximately 2-3 months.


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revelleca  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you LilianBoland Nov 15, 2012

I read somewhere that I should have a contract between myself and the author (publishing house?). Do you agree that this needs to be done as part of the negotiations?

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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:57
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
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Model contract Nov 15, 2012

The PEN Model Contract for Translators might be of interest to you, in terms of what you will want to consider in your negotiations:

http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/322

Among other things, think about what kind translator's credit you will receive and where/how prominently it will be displayed in the book, what your cut of the back end (royalties) will be (if you think there will be any, otherwise it might be best to just get what you can upfront, since front-end/back-end negotiations usually involve some kind of trade-off between the two), etc. Just to name a few things...

Sounds like a nice assignment. Good luck!


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JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 01:57
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
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Sounds suspicious Nov 15, 2012

Maybe I'm just overly cynical, but when you say that you have been chosen to translate a novel then go on to say that you haven't yet stated your rate to the client, alarm bells start to ring for me.

It's not that I doubt you, but if it were me I would be very careful to check that this is a genuine client, and make sure that whatever rate was accepted I got a good chunk of the payment up front.

In terms of the question you asked about timescale, you also need to consider your other clients. If you work on this novel for three months solid, who will be doing the translations for your other clients in the meantime? Because your clients won't drop these other translators and welcome you back with open arms when you've finished the novel. I'd suggest that you take twice as long over the novel translation and keep at least some of your other clients happy in the meantime!


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revelleca  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
French to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Re: Model contract Nov 15, 2012

Funny, Rudolf Vedo, I was in the process of reading that very PEN Model Contract link when your response came through. I will be sure to consider your suggestions during my negotiation discussions. Thank you so much for your input.

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revelleca  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Re: sounds suspicious Nov 15, 2012

Thank you JaneD. My wording might have been misleading. I, among, other translators were subject to testing and evaluation and in the end my test translation was chosen.

Coincidentally, I did research the author and novel prior to even participating in the testing round, and everything checked out. Also, I am SO glad you addressed the issue of continuing to work with established clients while translating this new project. I was thinking of doing the opposite, of what you suggested. But your thoughts have snapped me back into reality!

Thanks so very much!


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:57
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Agree with JaneD Nov 15, 2012

I have translated two novels, and in both cases I was given plenty of time to do them, which allowed me to carry on doing some work for other clients, but I imposed a cap of 3000 words on the length of translation I would accept while working on the novel.

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revelleca  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
French to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jack Nov 15, 2012

That's another great suggestion...to put a cap on new translations during that time! Great!

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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
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Contracts Nov 15, 2012

We had a discussion about these a few days ago. I don't feel a separate contract is really necessary: an exchange of emails concerning prices and deadlines constitutes a valid legal contract. I've done a couple of dozen books for agencies and direct clients, and I've never signed one.

Also, if you're an averagely busy translator, large jobs can actually be a disadvantage for the reasons previous posters have mentioned, so I wouldn't offer a discount on my normal rates if I were you. And while you should obviously check your work carefully as you normally do, they should employ a separate proofreader.

I've never managed to get royalties as a translator. Even authors don't get much unless they're J.K. Rowling.

[Edited at 2012-11-15 20:00 GMT]


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 19:57
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Chiming in Nov 15, 2012

I would never reduce my rates for volume. After all, if it wasn't for this job, you'f be working for your other clients at your regular rate, wouldn't you? Also, don't underestimate the difficulty of translating a novel. It's just as time-consuming as any other job.

Best of luck! Let us know how things turn out.


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revelleca  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Contracts and Chiming in Nov 15, 2012

Thanks for driving home the point about not reducing rates, especially as I am preparing myself for the possibility that a reduction in rates will be suggested/requested. And yes, the more I think about it, the more I feel outsourcing the proofreading is the way to go.

And I think three months (not including weekends) is fair. As for contracts...I'm still considering whether to do one or not - but thanks for the input!


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First Novel Translation from French to English

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