How much for novel into non-native language?
Thread poster: Blanca García-Puente

Blanca García-Puente  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 11, 2008

I have been contacted by a prospective client and this would be my first paid commission after completing an MA in Translation (plus having experience as a linguist and translation into my mother tongue, Spanish).

The client, a Mexican novelist writer, is adamant her book of around 28 000 words, a novel for young people, is translated into English by somebody who can appreciate the nuances of the Spanish language (it is a highly emotionally charged novel) and she is convinced that, being of Latin origin, I am the right person for this. The client is also aware that I am highly qualified to do the job - plus my Dissertation was also on the translation of juvenile/children's literature.

Having read the novel, I feel highly capable of undertaking the task. The language is easy, straight storyline and I feel I could convey the emotion that the writer is seeking in the translation.

Since the client offers me flexibility with the translation -that is, no fixed deadlines, but rather at my pace -, I am thinking of charging her by the word.

The client hopes to break into the UK market with the translation of this novel (having published abroad before), and if such is the case, she would be willing to continue commissioning her work to me.

Both the client and myself are resident in the Uk. I have been here almost 2 decades and my English is very fluent/almost bilingual.

What rates/price would you set for this one?

Many thanks, Blanca.


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 06:09
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
A word of caution Jul 11, 2008

Usually book translations are commissioned by the publisher. Are you sure the writer already has a publisher and will be able to pay you?


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another word of caution Jul 11, 2008

It would be OK, but it would also be good to have all your work reviewed by a native speaker who also has expertise in children's books, but that person would not necessarily have to know the source language.


Blanca García-Puente  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Caution noted Jul 11, 2008

Thank you for your answers, Tina and Henry.

The writer is thinking of paying for the publication herself should she be unsuccessful in finding a publisher. I have considered this, and my idea was to charge per chapter and gradually as the money is coming in.

The writer has worked with publishers before and is aware that the text will be modified and corrected. I pointed out this might incur in extra expense for her, but she is not so bothered about this as much as the fact that the translator has to be able to "catch" the emotional nuances of the text...on the other hand, I trust my English is quite good!

But what about the rate?

Needless to say the project is very attractive for me and, whilst keen to offer a professional rate according to my experience and the market, I'm quite keen to drive the client in!!

Tq, Blanca.


GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
What can you afford? Jul 11, 2008

To start with, the fact that you are translating into a non-native language shouldn't affect the price, because you are offering the author a native-like translation. You are confident that you can do as well as a native speaker in this case; if you weren't competent to do so, you would be doing the author a disservice to accept the job.

Secondly, if you are keen to take the job—for the experience, the prestige, etc., you might be willing to lower the price from your usual rates. It's a question of how low you are willing to go below your usual rates, and that figure depends on 1) your normal rates, and 2) how much you want the job.

One person in your situation might say "I would only do this at my usual professional rate," another person might say "I would do this for 50% of my usual word rate," and a third person might say "I want this so badly, I would do it for free." In the end it is up to you to decide based on your feelings and circumstances. You might be influenced by others' opinions, but you have to keep in mind that their ambitions, their situation (and their normal price) could be different from yours.


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How much for novel into non-native language?

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