First timer needs tips on money and time
Thread poster: John Bennett

John Bennett
United States
Local time: 03:24
German to English
Nov 22, 2008

Any advice would be appreciated!

I have been asked to translate a psychotherapy text from German into English. It would be more a labor of love than a profitable venture. I work full-time as a psychotherapist, so this wouldn't be for my bread and butter. I am being asked to propose a fee for translating the book. It is about 400 pages.

The catch is that this will be a book that will not have a wide circulation and a small non-profit organization will be publishing it. Accordingly, the budget is small. What kind of fee could I reasonably ask for, one which might be one or two clicks higher than translating it pro bono?

I also have no idea how many hours something like might take. Could anyone give me a guess estimate on time for a newbie?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have
New York


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:24
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You could ask them Nov 23, 2008

Perhaps they surprise you and offer more than you expect.
A 400 page book would take a fulltime translater at least two months. So you might calculate, how much two months at Mac Donalds' counter would earn you, that's about the money a professional would get translating literature (I might be wrong).

As you're a specialist you might follow the advice on translation Freud offers. As a student he translated French psychiatric publications into German. He read on paragraph twice and then wrote it as he would himself in German, not translating sentence by sentence but rendering the message.



Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
200 hours Nov 23, 2008

Well, you will not be able to translate more than 2 pages per hour, however that is a reasonably fast speed. Perhaps if you do not have the experience you will only get through one page per hour (at least at the beginning; I dare say you will accumulate experience as you go along).

As for price, I have no idea. Simply consider how much you would like to be paid for giving up 200 hours or more of your spare time.


Livia Formisani  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:24
English to Italian
+ ...
Agree with Astrid... Nov 24, 2008

...You can't do more than 2 pages per hour.
Then, consider that translating is really taking all your attention.
I am exhausted after, so better consider breaks in between your working day.

You should also consider at least 10-15 days for the final proofreading, unless there will be somebody else doing it (it's always better, but as the budget is small I guess there will not be a proofreader, right?).

Since is a non-profit organization, I would charge the half of what I normally charge.
But not less. It's a huge work, and if you do it as extra job, it will mean that all your spare time will be gone, and that's really heavy.

Just my opinion, by the way.

[Edited at 2008-11-24 09:16 GMT]


KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:24
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
So what if it's a non-profit organization? Nov 24, 2008

That just means no taxes paid and more funds available for operations, salaries, translation, etc. Certainly no reason to slash your fees in half or worse. Really, if we want to work for the Glory of God, there are probably monasteries and convents eager for new members.

My experience with specialist books is that, although they may have a limited circulation, this is compensated by a high price. Psychotherapists can afford to pay a good price for a good text, just like chemists will pay hundreds of dollars for a worthwhile text in their specialties.

So if the "budget" doesn't amount to reasonable compensation, look at other ways of making it up through a portion of copies sold, republishing rights, author's copies (which you can resell) or whatever. I don't deal with book-length publications often, so I'm not the expert here, but I'm sure there are a number of colleagues who can explain how they have dealt with similar situations. However, working for little or nothing just because an organization is listed as a non-profit is not necessary.


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