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Rates: per word vs per page, where is the money gone?
Thread poster: DjoulZ
DjoulZ  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:51
English to French
Nov 16, 2009

Hello all,

I mostly translate video games but I've just been given the opportunity to tranlate a novel inspired by a video game. The company in question may become a new customer, I've just contacted them.
When I translate video games, my rate is usually €0.09 / word. It is quite low.
I don't know yet the amount of words to be translated, but the rate they offer is €10.00 per page (2 000 characters).

It seems that a page of 2 000 characters contains about 400 words.
With my usual rate, that would mean €36.00, however with their "per page rate", I would earn a mere €10.00.
Now my question is this:
The rate they offer seems verylow, but I guess the book is around 250-300 pages long.
Is this rate normal for such a volume to translate, or are they trying to take advantage of me?

Many thanks for reading and, hopefully, helping me!


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Emin Arı  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 15:51
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
out of question Nov 16, 2009

20% or even 30% discount are normal for such a big volume imho, however, the discount they request is apprx. 70% (you can make calculations with ease, lowering 0.09 to 0.03 euro). I think this is not an honest request. I would not accept it.

regards


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 15:51
Turkish to English
+ ...
Book translation Nov 16, 2009

Book translation is, generally speaking, very poorly paid.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:51
French to German
+ ...
Agree Nov 16, 2009

Tim Drayton wrote:

Book translation is, generally speaking, very poorly paid.


And this was always the case (at least according to hearsay from "older" colleagues with much more experience than me)...

[Edited at 2009-11-16 16:22 GMT]


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DjoulZ  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:51
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Yes I heard that too Nov 16, 2009

But does any of you know if the rate offered is really outrageously low? Or is it acceptable considering it would be my first contract in book tranlation and my first contract whatsoever with this potentially new client?

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Owen Yang
China
Local time: 20:51
Chinese
+ ...
Price is low Nov 16, 2009

Though the price is low, but you can transfer it to other translaters who can accept this offer. This is helpful to you and your customer!
Or, you can ask your customer to give a better offer!
Just a reference!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:51
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Not "poorly", but a different setup Nov 16, 2009

Tim Drayton wrote:
Book translation is, generally speaking, very poorly paid.


Books are a wholly diferent setup, if you compare, e.g. with some business agreement, articles of incorporation, etc.

First, the timeline tends to be much longer. They know the whole takes a lot of time. After you've finished the translation, there will be proofreading, typesetting/DTP, another proofreading, and the actual publishing, which nowadays may be POD or conventional printing. In the latter case, there are still photolith, printing, finishing, and binding.

So you seldom listen to the clock ticking while translating a book. Depending on each individual translator's setting, i.e. countless small jobs vs. few big ones, and the grayscale between them, books may become "fillers": they take up all the otherwise "idle" time you might have between one job and another. It's a balancing act.

Also, a book involves considerable investment. The translated version publisher will usually pay a lump sum to the copyright holder, up-front on the agreement, as minimum royalty guarantee. And then they'll have all the production costs to cover before it hirs the shelves on bookstores. So unless the publisher has lots of capital, they'll never be able to afford commercial translatin costs. Anyway, if this is done, the book might come out too expensive to be successful.

On the other hand, as the job is relatively mid- to long-term, it is not unusual for the translator (if already a trusted vendor) to receive some advance cash, or maybe partial payments on milestone partial deliveries.

So book translation is a wholly different setting.

Anyway, rates are just a way to calculate the whole cost of the translation, which is all that it's about. Per word, per chara, per page, per hour, even per sweat drop if you live in a very hot climate, what matters is how much money will have changed hands after the job is delivered.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 15:51
Turkish to English
+ ...
Correct me if I am wrong ... Nov 16, 2009

... but I have always felt that one of the incentives for translators to translate a book is that this is a form of advertising given that they will be credited by name as the translator on one of the cover pages.

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 15:51
Turkish to English
+ ...
No bottom limit Nov 16, 2009

DjoulZ wrote:


But does any of you know if the rate offered is really outrageously low? Or is it acceptable considering it would be my first contract in book tranlation and my first contract whatsoever with this potentially new client?


I have heard that an academic at the University of Cyprus translated a work by the German philosopher Hegel, no easy read, into Greek for the princely sum of 100 Cyprus pounds (172 euro)! It is up to you to decide what your possible motives would be for accepting this kind of work and how low you are prepared to go. I once translated a whole book for free, simply because I had a strong ideological commitment to the cause it promoted. If your only motive is to earn a high rate per word, then my advice would be to steer clear of book translation.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:51
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic Nov 16, 2009

Tim Drayton wrote:
... but I have always felt that one of the incentives for translators to translate a book is that this is a form of advertising given that they will be credited by name as the translator on one of the cover pages.


That's the intrinsic reward. The translator will be proud (if the job is any good ) to show it to relatives and friends. Money is the extrinsic reward.

Every individual should balance these two, as they roughly mean happiness and wealth, not necessarily related at all times.

(No, I don't think about this all the time. It just happens that I am translating about in/ex-trinsic rewards right now!)


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Large volumes -> lower rates Nov 16, 2009

Your 9 cent basic rate is similar to mine (8 cents/word in Spain), but for volumes or over 10K words I am prepared to come down considerably.
A book translation means steady work for a longer period so should not really be considered the by same gauge as for shorter, "normal" translations. I think lower rates are par for the course in book translation, which seems to be a sort of specialist niche - I know people who mainly translate books and hardly ever do anything else.
I agree with Tim about the prestige aspect of having your name on a published text, even if it doesn't bring in more boodle.


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DjoulZ  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:51
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
agreed but... Nov 16, 2009

I agree with most of you, large volumes = lower rates, prestige of your name in a book etc.
Plus, they offer to pay 50% at the beginning of the job, the other 50% will be paid when the book is issued (not when the translation is delivered)

If your only motive is to earn a high rate per word, then my advice would be to steer clear of book translation.


Not at all, far from it. Books from this publisher are set in a Sci-Fi universe that I've been a fan of for the past 15 years.
It's clearly an opportunity for me to be part of the people involved in it.
My only concern is to keep some sort of credibility with how much I think my work is worth.
Also, should my client and I be happy about this work, and should they offer me more work in the future, I don't want to be "the guy that accepts any prices"

[Edited at 2009-11-16 13:07 GMT]


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 15:51
Turkish to English
+ ...
Discounted future potential earnings? Nov 16, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Tim Drayton wrote:
... but I have always felt that one of the incentives for translators to translate a book is that this is a form of advertising given that they will be credited by name as the translator on one of the cover pages.


That's the intrinsic reward. The translator will be proud (if the job is any good ) to show it to relatives and friends. Money is the extrinsic reward.

Every individual should balance these two, as they roughly mean happiness and wealth, not necessarily related at all times.

(No, I don't think about this all the time. It just happens that I am translating about in/ex-trinsic rewards right now!)


My point is a little different. I am suggesting that a translator may calculate that by having his/her name on the flyleaf of a book he/she may become better known as a translator and thus get more work in the future, i.e. earn more money. Perhaps in translating a book for little immediate visible reward, the translator may be discounting the future flow of work that he/she expects to receive as a result, and is offsetting these future potential earnings against the price that he/she charges for the book translation.


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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
Price Nov 16, 2009

I think 20 EUR per 1500 characters is frequent in France for EN>FR...at least, that is what I have been offered several times. Even this is low, but as has been said, if you get your name on the cover it might be worth accepting. If not....

[Modifié le 2009-11-16 12:54 GMT]


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:51
French to English
sounds familiar Nov 16, 2009

Have you seen this thread?

http://www.proz.com/forum/french/150230-arnaque.html


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