Literary translation cost
Thread poster: Mariana Hernandez

Mariana Hernandez  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 28, 2011

Dear friends,

one of my friends has written a book and wants to translate it. However he would be paying for the job himself, there is no editorial house to back him up.
I have never before worked on a literary translation, so I come to you for advise.
- Does any of you know how much editorial houses pay translators for this sort of translation?
- How much do you charge for this type of job?
It's a big book, approx. 700 pages, don't know the exact word count.

Thank you!!!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Unfortunately... Oct 28, 2011

MarenCalma wrote:

Dear friends,
one of my friends has written a book and wants to translate it. However he would be paying for the job himself, ...


... in my experience, working for friends is a good way to lose them. By this I mean that since it is a friend, you probably won't want to charge them too much, especially if their financial situation is relatively impecunious. Problems may arise if the work you are doing for them ends up interfering with more highly-paid work for your usual clients and you start to regret offering to help your friend out.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:55
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
To add to what Neil has said... Oct 28, 2011

...this is something more akin to volunteering your time than to money-making acitivity. Do an experiment. Translate the first 3000 words or so and, on the basis of that (and throwing in another hour for revision) determine how many hours you need to complete the translation of the book. Then ask your friend how much he is willing to pay you. (You can take 120,000 words as the basis of your calculation, so multiply the time needed to translate the 3000 words, plus one hour, by 40).

What kind of hourly rate do you calculate using this formula? I bet it isn't much more than $5/hour or so. Do you really want to work for that kind of money. Or rather: Can you afford to?

[Edited at 2011-10-28 23:00 GMT]


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The Misha
Local time: 16:55
Russian to English
+ ...
... and to add to that even further, Oct 28, 2011

it is probably going to be a waste anyway. Your friend needs to sell the book first, and then, if the publishing house so desires, they will hire their own translator to do the job. At least, this is the common practice in the US.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:55
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
For foreign publisher? Oct 28, 2011

This friend of your's is going to offer the book to a publisher that cannot understand the original language?
I did once a translation of a book from Finnish into German. No German publisher knows German, so this got the publisher to appreciate the book (which was already published in Finnish) and it got a much broader audience in Germany. Actually I never say the finished book and cannot say if they used my translation.
I charged the normal rate. I would not work for less.


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
suggestion Oct 28, 2011

You can offer to translate a chapter and a synopsis (paid, of course) that your friend can submit to a literary agent or publisher. It would save him quite a bit of money but would be a way for the publisher to understand the plot and get an idea about the book.
If the publisher is interested they can decide if they want you to continue or have it translated by someone else. If you're translating out of your mother tongue, I imagine the publisher would rather have a native speaker translate it, so you may want to consider this too when you set a price.
FWIW,
Catherine


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Mariana Hernandez  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Responses Oct 28, 2011

First of all, thank you all for responding.

Actually my friend doesn't have any monetary issues, so maybe I am the one who has a problem with charging my friends, which I shouldn't have, of course.

The book is in French and he wants it translated into Spanish, I am a native of both languages, so this wouldn't be an issue.

I like your ideas, so thank you so much.

Now about translating books, I understand there is a contract you sign, which involves royalties, etc. Does anyone have more information on the topic?

Thank you.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:55
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Publisher first Oct 29, 2011

You and your friend need to find a publisher first. It doesn't make sense for anyone to spend time and money on a manuscript that may end up gathering dust in the attic. Once you have a publisher, and if the publisher doesn't already have a translator they regularly work with, you and your friend can sign a contract with the publisher together. There are books on the market on how to get a book published - it requires doing research on why the book would be of interest to what kind of readers in the target country, writing a book proposal, and translating at least one chapter for publishers to review. Getting a book published takes a lot of time and perseverance. And, as others have pointed out, there are certain risks involved in working for a friend.

See also this post:
http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/159058-should_i_agree_that_author_retain_copyright_on_translation_of_not_yet_published_literary_ms.html#1337056


[Edited at 2011-10-29 04:03 GMT]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:55
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Model contract for literary translations Oct 31, 2011

MarenCalma wrote:

Now about translating books, I understand there is a contract you sign, which involves royalties, etc. Does anyone have more information on the topic?

Thank you.


You may want to check out some model contracts for literary translators.
Here is one:
http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/322

And some more info here:
http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/6088

[Módosítva: 2011-10-31 03:59 GMT]


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