Pricing for proofreading Master Thesis?
Thread poster: Isabel Severing
Isabel Severing
Local time: 17:20
German to English
+ ...
Apr 17, 2009

Hi,
I’ve been asked to proofread a Master Thesis for a former student of mine (I don’t just translate, I teach English as well – I don’t mean to say that I taught her in the subject of her thesis!).

The student in question is a married lady with teenage children, so I’d imagine she isn’t completely strapped for cash. Still, it’s not a commercial job, and I don’t want to charge her through the roof for it. However, I think it’s safe to say there isn’t a single sentence that will remain unchanged. A lot of work…

Ever found yourself in such a situation? Or even if you haven’t, would you maybe have a suggestion as to what I should charge? It’s about 50 pages. We are both based in Germany.

I’d appreciate any suggestions/comments, even if you don’t want to suggest an actual rate.

And I have a feeling I might just get to hear something like ‘don’t sell yourself short just because your client can’t afford you’ – after all, it is me who has to pay the bills at the end of the month. But still – any help would be very much appreciated.

Thanks very much in advance,
Isabel


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Member
Dutch to German
+ ...
Have a look into it! Apr 17, 2009

Whatever you do, take a brief look at it first so you know what to expect and you have enough information to make an estimate of the time you will be spending on this. Then I would agree on an hourly rate you both can live with.

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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:20
Spanish to English
My idea Apr 17, 2009

Personally I have a rate for translation agencies and a rate for direct clients. I always charge students the lower rate, the one for translation agencies.

And proofreading I charge by the hour, I hope that is of some use.


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Member
Dutch to German
+ ...
Is it worth while? Apr 17, 2009

Isabel Severing wrote:


And I have a feeling I might just get to hear something like ‘don’t sell yourself short just because your client can’t afford you’ – after all, it is me who has to pay the bills at the end of the month. But still – any help would be very much appreciated.



This makes me want to add one more aspect. Personally, I do not mind working for less sometimes, I even translate for free every now and then for charity purposes. But I usually ask myself the following questions?
- Do I miss other, better paid jobs while I am working on it?
- Do I like what I am doing here? In other words: is it fun or is it blood, sweat and tears?
and last not least:
- Do I like the people I am doing it for?

Summing it up: You might do it for less, but it still has to be rewarding. And money is not the only thing that weighs in this reward.


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Isabel Severing
Local time: 17:20
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your comments so far... Apr 17, 2009

...just to say: I was given a 3-page sample, which I have proofread so she can see for herself the amount of work involved. That's how I know there's hardly a sentence that will remain unchanged - my apologies, completely forgot to mention that.

I have to say, I feel like a fool - it's never occurred to me to charge by the hour! I did once, working on a large, ongoing project, but that was more for editing as well as actual writing. Proofreading I've always charged for per page, at roughly two standard rates, one for 'ok' translations, and one for those that involve a lot of work.

So, charging by the hour is definitely an excellent suggestion - I won't do it for this job, though. It'd simply be too much.

Thanks, Wolfgang - you do make me feel less of a fool, accepting the odd job at sub-standard rates (which I wouldn't dream of doing for an agency/commercial client!). It IS fun (not only, but also...) and it's good training as well, as I might delve into areas that are not really my field of expertise...

Thanks again so far!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
Client's expectations Apr 18, 2009

Is your former student expecting you to do your utmost and produce the best possible edited version of her Master's thesis?

Of course she is.

My suggestion: give her a quote reflecting your full rate and then show a discount (if you are so inclined) of say 5 or 10%. I certainly wouldn't consider more than that.

That way she'll see what it actually costs and that her relationship with you has also been taken into account.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Discounts and friendship Apr 18, 2009

It is curious that when we discuss handling a job for a friend we automatically assume that there will be some discount.

Why is it that we never assume that our friends are so loyal that they will happily pay over the going rate for our services.

I am also guilty on this score.

Warning: careful consideration on this point may throw an uncomfortable new light on your friendship.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 17:20
English to Hungarian
+ ...
frienship Apr 18, 2009

John Rawlins wrote:

Why is it that we never assume that our friends are so loyal that they will happily pay over the going rate for our services.


Perhaps because we are inclined to do favours for our friends. Language work as a favour is not much different from helping friends fix their broken fence or picking them up at the airport. Among friends, that sort of thing is considered normal. Giving each other money for no reason (paying more than the standard fee would be exactly that) is not.
Obviously, working for days or weeks for free is usually out of the question, althogh not always... and a steep discount is par for the course.

As to the OP's situation, I don't think anyone can tell without knowing their relationship or the OP's penchant for charity and her workload.

[Edited at 2009-04-19 08:58 GMT]


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