Rate for translating a kids' math game from English to Spanish?
Thread poster: Nina Halperin

Nina Halperin
United States
Local time: 14:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 8, 2013

Hello fellow translators,

I was recently hired to translate a math game for elementary school students from English to Spanish. The company asked me to look over the game and let them know my rate. It seems like the type of project for which I would just give them a flat fee as opposed to charging by word or by hour. However, since I'm new to the industry, I'm very unsure of what to charge--I don't want to end up charging too little or, conversely, suggesting a ridiculously high fee. I know the rate might be hard to ascertain without seeing the game, but essentially I would be translating the box, one page of frequently asked questions, one page of "quick start" directions, one page detailing what comes in a deck, a four page mini pamphlet with more detailed instructions and rules, and a few words that come on the cards and the score pad (around 1900 words in total). Does anyone have any suggestions or know someone who might? I would really appreciate it! Thank you so much!



564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:00
Danish to English
+ ...
Don't undercharge, whatever you do Jul 9, 2013

My approach would probably be to just charge a standard word rate. However, that would probably be to undercharge for something that the client is likely to make a lot of money from. Just consider how many hundreds, if not thousands, of units of this game will be sold to Spanish-speaking elementary schools or students. Your translation fee is just a tiny drop in the water in this connection, so you could see it as a case of ensuring yourself some kind of 'royalties' by proposing quite a high rate for the job, maybe even twice your standard rate. That will also leave you some room for negotiation.


Noura Tawil  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:00
Member (2013)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Per word rate + Administrative fee Jul 9, 2013

With such "unusual" source files, I usually calculate my fees by adding a "per word rate" to other "Administrative" fees for whatever time it will take me to handle such a diversity of texts/files and become familiar with it. Adding a grain of salt to it won't hurt either. This task will certainly be more time consuming than an ordinary word file translation, for instance.
It would be a good idea not to exaggerate about the requested fees if you want to keep a long term relationship with this customer.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Member (2007)
+ ...
What's so different about it? Jul 9, 2013

If they'll be providing you with text files, then I can't see why it's any different from a host of other commercial translations, really. Maybe a bit more fun, but maybe not. Of course, if you've got to hunt around for things to translate and then make sure that the client knows exactly what source text matches with the target, then you'll be looking at extra time per word. Personally, as a translator of website content, I've had too many problems with deciding for myself what words are to be included or not, and I now insist on getting the text in a .doc or similar format file. If it's in that file, I count it and translate it, if it isn't, I don't.

I can't see there's any justification for charging more just because the client is going to earn from it. Surely, the same applies to every instruction manual, in fact pretty much all the work most of us do. If companies aren't going to make any money from a translation, they'll use GoogleTranslate, won't they? However, as this is an end client, you should certainly charge more than your agency rate. It will be your responsibility to ensure that it's proofread by a second pair of eyes, and you'll be guaranteeing the final quality yourself. There's a cost to that.


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never quote unseen jobs Jul 9, 2013

You're new to the game. Well, you're getting this advice from somone with 42 years of experience. You say the rate might be hard to ascertain without seeing the game? You're going to quote on a pig in a poke? Please... don't do it. Request the ENTIRE job first, not a description or sample. Then decide on the price. Until then, you are taking a big chance. If the prospective client refuses to reveal the ENTIRE job to you before making a commitment, then that's a bad sign. Turn it down even though it might hurt, the hurt could be worse if you take it.

Factors such as the media and format in which they provide the job to you count. Some are easier you work with than others. They also need to provide you with information as to the target audience: grade levels, nationality, where they live, etc. You may or may not feel comfortable doing something for Spanish-speakers in places you are unfamiliar with, whose regionalisms you are not familiar with.

Also, ask for straight fees, not royalties, because you have never dealt with royalties and you could easily be cheated. Even I have never dealt with royalties so I would not touch such an arrangement. They could say "oh, we only sold 150 last year so here's your part" (can't buy lunch with it), when they actually sold 100,000.


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:00
English to German
+ ...
I translated such a math game Jul 9, 2013

A fun educational game for elementary school students. The word count was 2000 including the instructions, and I charged the translation agency (UK) a flat fee of US $600.00 (30 cents per word). It required a lot of brainstorming as the game was based on puns and wordplays that needed to be localized. The design of the cards had to be considered as well. That was back in 2007.

Congrats to this beautiful project! You will have a lot fun.


Nina Halperin
United States
Local time: 14:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
¡Gracias! Jul 9, 2013

Thank you to everyone for all your thoughtful replies!! I really appreciate it.


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