Rate awfully low for biography 62k words
Thread poster: Caroline Tsaganas

Caroline Tsaganas  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:43
Member (2011)
English to French
+ ...
Feb 9, 2011

Hi everybody!

I am an avid reader of this forum and did not see at all coming that I might ever have to take part in what I call "the ongoing quest for the lowest rate contest"!

But unfortunately, as awful as it is for me to digest this news, I do have to seek your advice.

I have been offered a couple of weeks ago (through a fellow translator who did not offer this language pair) the translation of a biography from EN to FR. The book, about the insight of a man born and growing up in the industry of a high-end culinary product, counts 62k words. It is mostly narrative with dialogs, puns and many technical culinary talk.

Of course, the deadline was asap. At the same time, so I heard, the book was to be translated into Italian and French.

I sent my quote 4 weeks ago along with a requested free test of 2000 words.

Never heard anything back.

I got the news today: they loved the test, want to work with me, but the price is too high. My colleagues requested 2000 to 2500 EUR for the whole job. That's 0.04 EUR a word at most. On a asap deadline basis.

So, my question: am I the only one quoting what should be? Am I wrong when I assume this is no amount that brings along a decent living standard? Am I suppose to work one month long, day and night, on a project that brings me only 2000 to 2500 euros?

Have I lost the track, somewhere?

It would be gread to hear your opinions...

Thanks folks

caroline


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:43
French to German
+ ...
The "volume trick" Feb 9, 2011

Hi Caroline,
this is what many of us would call a "volume trick": the higher the volume, the lower the rate.

Personally I find this point of view rather perverted. Nothing more to add, I think - except that such outsourcers would also generously offer the same appalling rate of USD 0.04 for smaller volumes.

ETA: did the outsourcer at least mention something about receiving a percentage on the sales?

[Edited at 2011-02-09 11:19 GMT]


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Free test of 2000 words??? Feb 9, 2011

That is more shocking than the pathetically low rate. Something-for-nothing seems to be the motto of those 'offering' the job.
If I were you, I'd reply back that their rate is totally unacceptable and you can't afford to get stuck into a job that will force you to turn down other jobs at your normal rate. Thanks but no thanks.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:43
English to Dutch
+ ...
Typo? Feb 9, 2011

You meant a test of 200 words, not 2000, right?
Because if you did a free test of 2000 words, it told the agency that you're a sucker who will easily be caught for more ridiculous stuff. Whence the proposed rates.
Please pardon my French.


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:43
English
+ ...
Yes, I too hope it was a typo. Feb 9, 2011

Jan Willem van Dormolen wrote:

You meant a test of 200 words, not 2000, right?
Because if you did a free test of 2000 words, it told the agency that you're a sucker who will easily be caught for more ridiculous stuff. Whence the proposed rates.
Please pardon my French.


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:43
English
+ ...
People charge more just for typing... Feb 9, 2011

I repeat a post I made in December 2010:

"I recently came across a website charging 6 euro cents a word for mere typing, with a reduction for students and seniors to 4.5 cents. The hourly rate is 45 euros.... Maybe we should all just take up typing?"

Surely it should cost more to translate a text than to type it.




[Edited at 2011-02-09 11:35 GMT]


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:43
English to French
+ ...
literary transaltion in France : contact atlf Feb 9, 2011

ATLF is Association Française des Traducteurs Littéraires. www.atlf.org
You should find some valuable info on their site, regarding publishing contract and rates.

Rates and usages for literary translation are not exactly the same as in the technical world.
It is normal to ask for a few more than 200 words to test the style of the translator.
The price is more on a per page (1 page = 1500 char including spaces) basis than per word.

Eventually the rates seems lower, which in France is compensated by the fact than as a literary translator you pay taxes on a different basis, same as a writer (AGESSA) but this suppose than you translate more than one book a year (minimum for AGESSA = 8000 euros / year) and that your client is a publishing company, not a plain translation agency.


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Caroline Tsaganas  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:43
Member (2011)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
and, of course, no royalties Feb 9, 2011

yes, i forgot to mention, there were no talk of royalties...


I'd loved to read what you would say to that client... I might loose my temper at some point.

I love the "I am no typist" idea!


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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Try negotiating Feb 9, 2011

What someone else in another language pair might have quoted is not relevant. Maybe the client hasn't tried asking for a quote for Swedish yet!

Unfortunately, translating books is an expensive business and landing a contract can involve a certain amount of creative negotiation, even investment and/or speculation on the part of the translator, but don't let yourself be taken advantage of. Only you know how much potential "worth" there is in the project for you (interest, reputation, etc.). If not much, hold out for your price, as you'll get no other compensation.

If you really want the job, you might try asking for a smaller basic fee and the balance (up to your "decent fee" level) to be made up in royalties on world-wide sales. Try and find out what the retail price is lkely to be and calculate from there. An alternative would be to take the lot in royalties (rarely more than 5%), with a certain set amount as an advance (i.e. you'd be guaranteed that as a minimum, whether the book sells well or not).

It's fairly normal for a large sample to be requested for a book, and this should eventually be covered by the overall fee for the job, if you get it. But I agree, 2000 words for free is something not to be undertaken lightly. I've done it, but then I sometimes engage in fairly speculative projects, often on my own initiative. Only do it if you're prepared to take the risk and have the time.

Good luck!
Alison


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:43
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
CEATL report Feb 9, 2011

Hi Caroline,

The Conseil Européen des Associations de Traducteurs Littéraire published a detailed survey about the literary translation sector across Europe: http://www.ceatl.eu/docs/surveyuk.pdf . They conclude that rates earnings are considerably lower than in comparable sectors, and they also give detailed figures and recommendations. The rate you quote falls very short of this.

Do you have any particular reason for accepting a work for less than half price?

Best,
Attila

PS: 2000 words is almost certainly not a typo; it is quite common practice in the publishing world.


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Rate awfully low for biography 62k words

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