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How long can be a translation test for a book?
Thread poster: Pamela Cruz

Pamela Cruz  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 02:26
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 2, 2007

Hi all,

Literary translation is not really my everyday job, but I was approached by a prospective client who asked me to do a translation test of 4,680 words -- "a small part of a novel chapter," as he said-- and for free.

Is common practice such a long translation test in this area?

Thanks in advance for the information.

Pamela


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:26
German to English
No way! Jul 2, 2007

That's too much work for free, Pamela. Tell them you'd be happy to do about 500 words max.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
I AGREE WITH KIM Jul 2, 2007

Completely.

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TrueBaller  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:26
Albanian to English
+ ...
Way too much... and for free! Jul 2, 2007

Pamela,

I agree with Kim. It is way too much to translate just for a test and for free. 500 words or so is the maximum you should accept. That should be sifficient for your client to be convinced of your skills as a translator.

Cheers and good luck!

Mimoza


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Elena Aleksandrova  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 08:26
Member (2009)
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
Too much for a test Jul 2, 2007

It seems to me they want a free translation.
The test should be not more than 300 words. But as I always say: My previous work will tell you more than any test translation.


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Roomy Naqvy  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 10:56
English to Hindi
+ ...
Beware Jul 2, 2007

Pamela Cruz wrote:

Hi all,

Literary translation is not really my everyday job, but I was approached by a prospective client who asked me to do a translation test of 4,680 words -- "a small part of a novel chapter," as he said-- and for free.

Is common practice such a long translation test in this area?

Thanks in advance for the information.

Pamela


Pamela, beware... there are a number of scamsters in this world and some of them might be tempted to seek a 'free test' translation of 4700 words...and who knows if they get various 4700 word tests done by 50 translators, they could have an unevenly translated book for free and then hire a 51st translator as editor to simply vet it!

Voila, job done!

Roomy


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Cecilia Vela Segovia-Frund, CT  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 02:26
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
Ask for Payment Jul 2, 2007

Pamela,

I've translated some tests for US publishing houses during the last couple of years. I've noticed they prefer long texts (a complete chapter) to check my writing style. However, ALL of these clients have offered to pay my word rate for the tests.

I usually translate the Preface or the first chapter of the book. When the book is finally awarded to me, the test payment is included in the contract and my translation is returned with comments & corrections so that I can use it as a guide for the translation. When I'm not awarded the job I make an invoice and the test is paid as a regular translation project.

I think you should have discussed your rate by now. It makes sense to offer your client the option of either translate 500 words for free or translate the complete chapter for your rate. This way your client will decide what is better for his/her business.

Saludos,

Cecilia


[Editado a las 2007-07-02 18:41]


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Pamela Cruz  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 02:26
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jul 2, 2007

I really appreciate all your answers. Below I am copying the emails exchanged.


From prospective client:
>> Dear Pamela,
>>
>> My company has been in collaboration with some international
>> publishing companies for their books and novels.
>> I have a test of small part of a novel chapter (page 12 until 25)
>> into French and Spanish.
>> I want to know if you feel interested.
>> The payment is good because it is paid by royalty (if you pass the
>> test in high quality).
>> The translation version should be in high quality of Spanish.
>> I am waiting.
>> I have herewith attached the test file.
>> After passing this test, big and continual novel but also books will
>> soon be started.
>>
>> Best regards,
>>YYY

- My answer:
>>Dear YYY,
>> I can send back a 200-words translation test taken from the
>>4680-words file you sent me, on Friday 5pm (Chilean time).
>> Let me now if you agree in order to proceed.
>>
>> Thanks

-From prospective client:
> Dear Pamela,
>
> The publisher, my client, wants us to do all part of the file.
> It is logic because the translation will be of novels.
>
> Best regards,
> YYY


- My answer:
Dear YYY,
>
> Then, I would have to charge for the test translation, as this
> file requires 3 full days of work.
>
> Best regards,

- From prospective client:
Dear Pamela,

This will be your intellectual investment for the projects.
It means that if you pass, you will get the novel projects of many novels and books.
I believe that it is not difficult for a qualified Spanish translator like you to pass a novel test.
However, there is no payment given by the client for this test.
If you think that it will take much of your valuable time, kindly not to translate it.
God bless you.

Best regards,
YYY

- My answer:
BYE-BYE!!


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Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
You made the right decision Jul 2, 2007

Pamela, I think you made the right decision. That client sounded kind of sketchy--the fact that it's paid by royalty doesn't mean anything unless it's a famous author. You could end up with scratch. And, after completing the test, there's no guarantee you would get the job!

Yvette


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Danae Ferri  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 07:26
Norwegian to Greek
+ ...
It depends Jul 2, 2007

I would not agree to translate a long text for an agency that wants to make an offer to a publishing house. But I wouln't be so strict -and in fact my test text was a complete chapter (ten pages more or less)- for a well known publishing house. This is common practice for prestigious houses in my country, and it has only been good for me.

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Tatiana Pelipeiko  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 08:26
French to Russian
+ ...
I do think you're right, too. Jul 2, 2007

It's not unusual for publishers to give a translator a longer portion of the text just to give an idea of the whole. But normally they ask for a small portion of it to be translated.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:26
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Beware!!! Jul 2, 2007

Pamela Cruz wrote:
>> The payment is good because it is paid by royalty (if you pass the test in high quality).


IMHO the whole catch is not in the size of the test, but the royalty payment. This means that IF you get selected, after you are done translating, you won't get one red cent. You'll get a percentage of sales IF and WHEN the book you translated has gone through all the subsequent steps (such as DTP, photolith, printing, binding, warehousing, selling, distribution) and the publisher gets paid by the bookstore or www-direct buyers.

As far as I can understand, this client is willing to risk nothing with you, and you will be betting all your work on the success of the book. All right, it may be the next Harry Potter, but you'd have to live on something else until it makes it great, if it ever does.


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Maria Labaronnie  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 02:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same thing happened to me last week Jul 2, 2007

Hola Pamela:

Exactly the same thing happened to me a week ago, and this company mentioned exactly the same phrase "a small part of a novel chapter". Surprisingly the "small part" were 25 pages to be translated into Spanish within a week time.
I decided not to do the test and now they are sending me emails to see how is the test going! mmmmnnn....

I wonder if it's the same company.

Saludos!

Maria


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femmy
Local time: 12:26
English to Indonesian
+ ...
When I was an editor Jul 3, 2007

... at a publisher, I usually give out tests of about 5 pages to potential translators, which comes to about 1250 words. For free, I'm afraid. I agree with Cecilia that writing style is very important, and this is difficult to detect in only a couple of paragraphs.

It is interesting that some of our translators actually ask for royalties instead of fees, which is our usual method of payment, so perhaps this is a matter of preference.

[Edited at 2007-07-03 02:53]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nigerian Scam Jul 3, 2007

The quality of the English this "client" uses is on par for a Nigerian scam (not always from Nigeria, mind you). So how would they possibly be in any position to even judge the quality of your work?

Let alone actually pay for it...

That's the kind of stuff you just delete and forget.


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