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Pricing a romance novel from Port. to Engl.
Thread poster: Jean-Louis Mondon

Jean-Louis Mondon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:40
French to English
+ ...
Oct 6, 2014

I need help in figuring out pricing for a translation of a novel from Port-Engl. The count is approximately 108,00 words in Word format. Any suggestions? Using Wordfast, does it appeal to the customer to state that discount will be applied at delivery when giving the estimate. What about requiring half as a down payment?

Thanks for your help.

Jean-Louis.


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MurielG
France
Local time: 15:40
English to French
CAT tools ? Oct 6, 2014

Translating a novel with CAT tools ?... I don't think it's a great idea. It's a novel, not a technical manual...
Even if it's a bad one, using CAT tools will probably prevent you from doing a good job.

About the pricing, I think you need to make inquiries about the rates commonly used in your country (literary translation association or trade unions).
I'm a bit surprised though: nobody offered you a pricing for this, including possible down-payment? Down-payment should be mandatory, but I think you have to negociate the amount.

[Edited at 2014-10-06 22:10 GMT]


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Jean-Louis Mondon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:40
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Merci Muriel Oct 6, 2014

Merci Muriel.
I just received the request to ask me if I was interested.
I agree with you that a CAT tool would not be appropriate as far as choosing the right word. However it would help in providing repetitive word and expressions and would allow a discount to be introduced in the bargaining.
I have not even answered the email. I wanted to inquire about procedures beforehand.
I am in Brazil. Your advice to consult Translators associations sounds good. I am sure I´ll get some helpful suggestions from the forum.

Merci de votre réponse.
Jean-Louis.


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:40
French to Spanish
+ ...
My opinion. Oct 6, 2014

As subtitler and literature translator, I don't use CAT tools of any kind.
And I don't think they would be usefull in your case too... no discount for repetitions and such things.
I negotiate 50% in advance, 25% when half job is done, 25% at the end.
And I have no idea about pricing, sorry... and good luck!


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The Misha
Local time: 09:40
Russian to English
+ ...
You are looking at it the wrong way. Oct 6, 2014

Instead, you should be asking yourself what is the absolute bottom line below which this simply stops being an attractive enough project for you and bargain UPWARD from there, as much as the market will bear. Who cares what some translator association or other says - it is YOUR livelihood, not theirs. As to using a CAT tool, it's a matter of personal preference. I have recently translated a similar novel in MQ, if for no other reason than that I like my original text segmented.

Oh, and discounts... What discounts? Why?


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Jean-Louis Mondon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:40
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Muchas gracias Oct 6, 2014

Muchas gracias, Juan por sus buenas sugestiones. Muy amable.
Jean-Louis.


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:40
French to Spanish
+ ...
Sugerencias, Oct 6, 2014

...Jean-Louis, sugerencias.
Bonne chance.


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Jean-Louis Mondon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:40
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Muchas gracias, Juan Oct 6, 2014

Merci pour la correction.
Je n´ai pas tellement l´occasion de pratiquer l´espagnol... alors on oublie!


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Jean-Louis Mondon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:40
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@The Misha Oct 6, 2014

Hello The Misha.
I certainly like your attitude.
I am gleaning around before making a decision. I don´t really need to do it. I just want to see first if the novel is really worth spending my time. Nothing worse than doing for money, if you don´t have to.
Thank you for your good advice.
Jean-Louis.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:40
Member (2014)
English to German
Very interesting! Oct 7, 2014

I negotiate 50% in advance, 25% when half job is done, 25% at the end.
And I have no idea about pricing, sorry... and good luck! [/quote]


I have been confronted with the same question a month ago. I have never done anything like this before and was excited to be offered a novel. I googled a bit but couldn't find anything that I could use in negotiation. I am dealing with the author and he is telling me that the contract is according to German law/rules?? As far as I could find out even in Germany its largely down to negotiation, plus royalties.

In any case, as new as I am to translation as a whole, I accepted what I was offered, but its probably way too low, and payment 30 days after completion - no advance payment. I am almost finished and keen to get my invoice out!


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Jean-Louis Mondon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:40
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@ Gabriele Oct 7, 2014

Thanks Gabriele for sharing. I find that our being new at this type of commercial negotiation does in no way reflect any lack in being a good translator but rather an accurate honest evaluation of our needs. I find myself in the same boat and I think this is why we adopt a more cautious approach with the client. I wish you good success and may your efforts be rewarded with more work. To me this is just a trial run on the way to acquiring new skills that will prove useful next time. "Do not despise new beginnings".

Jean-Louis.


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MurielG
France
Local time: 15:40
English to French
pricing Oct 7, 2014

The Misha wrote:

Who cares what some translator association or other says - it is YOUR livelihood, not theirs.


Yes, but I think one needs to offer fair rates compared to what is usual in a given country. Too low will devalue your work, too high will make you miss a lot of jobs. At least there is always a pricing range, and you have to decide which pricing is the fairest given your profile and the type of work you're asked to do. Associations can help, they're not here to devalue your work. It is just necessary to know the market, otherwise no client will take you seriously, or they could make advantage of you.


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:40
German to English
CAT tools shouldn't figure into the price Oct 7, 2014

I'm one of those people who uses CAT tools for everything, as I've found that certain twists of phrase recur over time (even in "creative" texts), and at my age, I don't always recall the translation of obscure terminology and have to look the word/term up. With a CAT tool all past work is just a keystroke away.

That said, your use of a CAT tool shouldn't enter into the negotiation, due to the nature of literary translation (or marketing, etc). You're being paid for your creativity as well your linguistic knowledge. It's already hard enough to put a fair value on creativity. To discount it, in my mind, is a little absurd. It's not as though you're translating a highly repetitive text with 50 instances of "See Fig. X" or "Refer to section Y". where the customer might expect a discount. Don't even mention use of a CAT tool, as it can create all sorts of confusion in the mind of the customer and can making negotiating a fair price difficult. It's not a selling point when it comes to transcreation.

Another bit of advice: don't fall into the royalties trap. Make sure that by the time you deliver your work, you are on track to receive the full agreed-upon amount. Translated works rarely become blockbusters. Books by the late Stieg Larsson and the very much alive Diana Gabaldon are the exception, not the rule.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:40
German to English
discount for what? Oct 8, 2014

Are there any repeated segments/ sentences in the novel? Are there enough to significantly affect the price (+/- 5%). Regardless of whether or not match-reductions are a good practice in other situations, they are almost certain to be irrelevant here, so there is no reason to talk about them.

If the client is the author, I would not consider doing this without receiving half of your fee as a down payment. We're talking about +/- 10,000 EUR here and months of your time, and a book translation without a publishing house is a pet project that is extremely unlikely to offset even a significant fraction of its costs through sales. You should make this clear to the author and if he or she is fine with that and can afford it, OK. But if the author has unrealistic expectations, then you should make sure that you have received all or most of your fees before disillusionment sets in.

If the client is a publishing house or (more unlikely) an agency working for a publishing house, then you can do whatever makes sense and also ask them to send you their standard contract as a basis for negotiation.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:40
Member (2014)
English to German
Very enlightening Michael! Oct 8, 2014

As you are from Germany I can see that I have made a mistake not to negotiate, but as a fairly new translator I was excited to be chosen to translate a novel (after a test translation of one whole chapter!!) - although I had some reservations: I was translating a translation!! But that is the author's problem. Also, I can't find the original Dutch version on Amazon, maybe its not out either.

The whole book was 56000 words and he sent me a contract for $2000, which would double after the first 4000 copies are sold. The publisher is an advertising company, I believe.

I am almost done, it has taken me a month and my translation is being proofread/edited alongside, but I am not planning to wait for the first 4000 copies to be sold, I just want to get paid. At the end of the day, it was a great experience, I enjoyed doing it, financially its not great, but I am finding my feet in this industry and the rates I should or could achieve.


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