What's the going rate for technical lingustic editing in English?
Thread poster: Martin Roberts

Martin Roberts
Local time: 12:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jan 18, 2014

I have been offered a lingustic editing commission in English for a civil engineering text, but have not previously done a job of this scope, so I'd be most gratefu if anyone could tell me what is a reasonable rate per word for 160,000w, and what would be a reasonable deadline.
Many thanks.


 

Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:34
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
'Going rate' is a pretty fuzzy concept in our industry Jan 18, 2014

I think your rate is whatever you can get someone to agree to. You seem to have a strong resume, so I would shoot for $.05 per word or so but be prepared to be haggled with.

Output depends on a lot of factors, but some people say you can expect 6,000 words per day, which would make your text 27 working days. I might get closer to 10,000 words on a good day, which would make it 16 working days.

Good luck!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What does the job entail? Jan 18, 2014

I imagine it's monolingual English? Are you supposed to doubt the terminology used in every case or is it reasonable to expect that the writer/translator knows the jargon? Was it written/translated by a native speaker? Have you personally checked the quality, not only of the first page but also of the text around word 100,000? Are you supposed to do any content checking at all? Do they simply need it grammatically correct and consistent (which is more of a proofreading job) or do they want the style improved, or do they even want you to reorganise entire paragraphs, cut out dead wood, etc?

Sorry for the barrage of questions but I come across the same problem time and again: the client doesn't know what the various terms mean ("Proofreading, editing, revising all mean the same don't they?"icon_wink.gif) and probably hasn't thought about what s/he needs done. Needless to say, you can correct typos a lot quicker than you can re-order (aka rewrite) paragraphs.

You're experienced, so you know what you want to earn in an hour. I'd personally advise you to work through a page or two (not page 1 where the quality is often best) to see how long it takes. If they can't provide a page then you can't realistically provide a total cost, only your rate per hour. And if I were you I'd strongly resist any "discounts for volume". As I intimated above, quality of writing is more likely to deteriorate than improve.

One last thought: if you don't already have a tool, you might want to consider PerfectIt (or something similar). PerfectIt does a magic job of scanning the entire text and presenting you with all the inconsistencies, plus it can check for British/American English variants and against various style guides. Worth its weight in gold on big editing jobs, although it doesn't replace either a spell/grammar checker or you. You can just accept all changes or you can check each one. Text within a quotation, for example, may correctly be inconsistent with the normal style used. It works with MS-Word's Track Changes.


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:34
German to English
+ ...
SfEP & NUJ recommendations Jan 19, 2014

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders is a UK organisation for people who provide editorial services to publishers.

They have a table of "suggested minimum freelance rates" on their site here:
http://www.sfep.org.uk/pub/mship/minimum_rates.asp
Note that these are minimum rates for exclusively English-language jobs. If the job you are considering requires knowledge of Spanish (to compare the English version against the Spanish original, for example) then that should enable you to command a higher rate.

There is a lot of useful info on the SfEP's site -- I recommend looking at their FAQ section in particular.

See also the relevant section of the NUJ's (National Union of Journalists) Freelance Fees Guide. Note that this guide was last updated in 2008, so you should take inflation into account if using these numbers as a reference.


 

Martin Roberts
Local time: 12:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to you all for your prompt and detailed help Jan 19, 2014

For Sheila, the agency who have offered me the job are indeed short on specifics, but I have seen a sample text and I can answer: it is monolingual English; I have been offered the job because I am more familiar with the jargon than most (although not entirely); it was written by a non-native speaker. I don't think I am required to check content, just that it should be grammatically correct and consistent, but I shall seek clarification.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some more thoughts Jan 19, 2014

Wherewithal wrote:
...monolingual English... ...written by a non-native speaker... ...I don't think I am required to check content, just that it should be grammatically correct and consistent...

Well, monolingual is quicker in one way (bilingual = double the reading), but I doubt you'll be able to do more than about 1000wph for a non-native text, less if the writer's English is not so good. Some bits may be really quick to correct, but there will be other areas where you'll need to re-read it several times to figure out the intended meaning. And there will be times when you simply can't - all you can do is flag the text for the end client's attention. All that takes time. And of course you can expect them to come back with answers to those queries, so a 2nd round will need to be factored into the overall cost.

And I do advise you to include a disclaimer. With this kind of job, it's sometimes impossible to be 100% sure that the final text reflects the intended meaning. "I see you last Thursday" is easy to correct in most contexts, but maybe not all. Hopefully, the end client will pick up any editor-introduced errors, but you can't take the blame if s/he doesn't. Of course, if you're not able to communicate with the writer (as happens with some agency jobs) then everything becomes rather more difficult.


 

Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:34
English to Russian
+ ...
Per word vs. hourly rate Jan 19, 2014

It's usually difficult to set a fixed per word rate if you haven't seen the entire translation. What I do is charge per hour, and my hourly rate is usually the same, no matter what I do. Well, I charge a bit less to my favourite long-term customer, because their projects are interesting and easy due to detailed instructions and excellent communication, so my standard hourly rate is X, and my minimum hourly rate is X - 6 GBP, but I'm comfortable with both.
Good luck!


 


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