How much to charge for an illustrated children's book that rhymes
Thread poster: Karen Simon
Karen Simon
Local time: 07:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 26, 2015

I have been asked by a publishing company to state my fee for translating a book for very young children. There are only 254 words total. However, the text must rhyme and the rhymes must coincide with the illustrations which, of course, cannot be changed. Since this is more than just a straight translation, I am not sure how much I should charge them. Can you help?
Thank you


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:53
German to English
Charge on an hourly basis Mar 26, 2015

Basically you're going to have to create new rhymes for the illustrations. I'd suggest doubling your hourly rate for something like this, as it goes way beyond translation.

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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:53
English to French
+ ...
Anything the market can bear... Mar 26, 2015

... is, as usual, the standard answer, and the only right one.

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Karen Simon
Local time: 07:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, that's exactly my question. Mar 26, 2015

What can the Canadian literary market bear at this time?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Whatever makes it worth you while Mar 26, 2015

Whatever the market will or won't bear, the bottom line has to be that any work you do has to be worth your time. If it isn't, why aren't you looking for clients who will provide work that pays you enough? You might be prepared to accept a little less if you really want the job (it does sound fascinating!), but that must be for you to decide.

As it's short, you could perhaps estimate it pretty well. But I wouldn't advise you to give a per-word rate as that doesn't seem terribly relevant. Personally, I'd quote my normal hourly rate, giving them both an expected (i.e. minimum) and a maximum number of hours. Then I'd invoice them for the actual time it takes, rounded up to the nearest quarter hour (or to the minimum fee). If I'm full of inspiration on the day I might make a bit extra; if I've done a lousy job of estimating then I'll have to put up with the maximum, even if it falls short of my normal hourly rate (lesson learnt!).


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Karen Simon
Local time: 07:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Sheila Mar 26, 2015

No, of course I wouldn't charge by the word. But I like your suggestion of giving them my hourly rate and my estimate (low and high) of how many hours it will take to do the job. As you say, if it takes me longer, that's my loss; if it takes me less, that's my gain. Thank you.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 18:53
Chinese to English
A black hole, but a pleasurable one Mar 27, 2015

I've talked to a couple of people who have translated children's books. Both said that they had not succeeded in making it profitable, but they did it for the joy of it. A children's book is very unlikely to sell enough for the publisher to give you really good compensation. And the work of finding the very best rhymes and tone is long and hard (do you have a little test audience at home?), so you can spend unlimited amounts of time on it.

In reality, compensation is likely to be linked to subsidies. I presume it's French-English? The chances are it's being paid for, at least in part, by some form of subsidy under Canada's bilingual policy. It's worth doing a bit of Googling to find out how much the subsidy is, because then you'll be in an informed position for the negotiation. With a bit of luck, it will all be public record.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:53
German to English
get them to make an offer Mar 27, 2015

Strategically, the best thing to do would be to make sure that they make the first offer (because you do not have enough knowledge of the general market situation and the specific situation surrounding this publisher and these books).

I would tell them that I am very interested, because I would really enjoy doing it and would be good at it (because ...), but that I've heard the rates for children's books are very low and I am not sure if I could afford to invest my time in the project. I would ask them to give me a general idea (= basis for negotiations) of how much money they are interested in investing in the project so that I can decide if it is worth my time and theirs to get into a more detailed discussion.

I would figure out beforehand and independently how long I think the project is going to take and what the minimum amount is that I would be willing to do it for. If their suggestion is ridiculously low, then the problem is solved. Otherwise, I would ask for more than they suggest and then negotiate.

That is the best way of finding out how much this particular project is likely to be worth to this particular client.


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Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:53
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Have you considered a per-poem option? Mar 27, 2015

A few years ago, I did precisely the kind of job you describe.

I was supplied with a .pdf of the whole illustrated book - originally published in a language I do not work in - and asked to create a dozen rhyming poems of four lines each, aimed at junior readers and artists (4 to 6 years olds).
The aim of the book was to introduce the children to animal species and to drawing and colouring outlined animal shapes.

Together with the publisher, we agreed on a per-poem fee (no royalties), for which I provided the original rhyming poems in my native Italian and the individual backtranslations into English, which was the language we communicated in.

The assignment wasn't a particularly lucrative one, but it was fun doing it.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:53
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Per line Mar 27, 2015

When I translated poetry for children the publisher offered EUR 2.00 per line, regardless of the number of words per line. This is a fair price. Even more so since you're not only translating the words, but you also basically create "new" poems/rhymes.

The additional questions are: do you keep the copyright? Will you get copies of the published book? Will you be named as the translator/poet? And last but not least, what are the royalty terms? These kind of books seldom make it on the Bestseller list, but you never know.


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How much to charge for an illustrated children's book that rhymes

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