Proofreading fees depending on time involved
Thread poster: Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 09:30
Spanish to English
Mar 24, 2016

Hello Everybody,
Regarding charging for proofreading it seems there is more gray area than in translating. Instead of a fixed per word rates is there a sliding scale or way to estimate how much time should be spent on a job and then a per hour rate. This involves judgement, but I'm interested in a general rule of thumb.
For example, how many words in an hour should I estimate for a straightforward correction with minimal alteration.
The process involves two people and the amount of work for the second person (poofreader) depends on the quality of work done by the translator and ultimately determines the amount of time it will take to proofread and therefore get a quality final version.
From previous posts I understand it is important to review a translation before committing to proofreading it.
I look forward to hearing your feedback.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
"Grey area" is putting it mildly Mar 24, 2016

Steven Wilson wrote:
Regarding charging for proofreading it seems there is more gray area than in translating. Instead of a fixed per word rates is there a sliding scale or way to estimate how much time should be spent on a job and then a per hour rate. This involves judgement, but I'm interested in a general rule of thumb.

You should already have an hourly rate in mind - it's the basis of how we charge for translation, after all. Our time (spent using our intellect) is what we are selling, even if we convert it into a per-word figure. An hourly rate is all you can quote to your client before seeing a text for proofreading.
For example, how many words in an hour should I estimate for a straightforward correction with minimal alteration.

Bilingual proofreading isn't something I get into as the constant refocusing between the two texts makes me feel unwell, but I know a third to a half of your translation speed is considered normal, so a third or a bit less if you're somehow sure it's going to be simple. But I personally wouldn't mention that to the client before seeing the text, as fixing a truly awful translation can take longer than starting again from scratch. I know that with monolingual revision I can process anything from 500 wph (non-native writing that needs a lot of reworking) to 3,000 wph or more for a native (or equivalent) professional writer. You'll have to compare two texts come what may, so a near-perfect text will be quite a bit slower.


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:30
Russian to English
+ ...
Can't even set an hourly rate Mar 24, 2016

Theoretically, an hourly rate is indeed the way to charge for proofreading/editing, but in practice it only works when you have already edited some other texts by that translator and know what to expect. In my personal experience, about 10% of the translations I am asked to proofread are beyond correction and have to be redone from scratch, and another significant fraction can be fixed but does so much moral damage that you have to take some rest before you can do any further work - in other words, you never know how much a proofreading work will screw up your working schedule. For this reason, I adopted a strict policy of accepting proofreading/editing jobs only after seeing the actual translation.

[Edited at 2016-03-24 18:54 GMT]


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 09:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
Damage limitation Mar 24, 2016

Steven Wilson wrote:
From previous posts I understand it is important to review a translation before committing to proofreading it.


Likewise, any half-competent plumber would say: "It is important to see how much water there is on the bathroom floor before committing to fixing the leak".

And any half-competent police chief would say: "It is important to see how much crime there is on this patch before committing to erradicating it."

And any half-competent car mechanic would say "It is important to see what proportion of the vehicle has been damaged beyond repair before committing to fixing it."

IOW, NO self-respecting (and prudent) profesionnal EVER quotes on ANY job before first evaluating the damage done already by others higher up in the food-chain.

And if, perchance, you believe you're anywhere close to the top of that chain, you're kidding youself.

RL


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:30
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Your hourly rate Mar 25, 2016

Whether you proof-read (monolingual) or review/edit (bilingual), you should always charge your hourly rate. It is important that you see the file before you can provide an estimate of the time involved.

As a sidenote: Any of the revision services should not be paid on a per word basis, simply because if the translation is of poor quality, you might end up spending hours on a document/file without getting paid for it. The rule of thumb is: see the translation, calculate the time you need to review this particular document and then submit your quote.


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:30
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Estimate per word Mar 25, 2016

Hi Steven,
For years I've estimated revisions at half my per word rate for translations, then after finishing seen how long the job took calculating the time taken at my hourly rate and charging the client the lower of the two figures.

The hourly rate was almost always slightly lower than the per word estimate so recently I've started estimated and charging for revisions at half my per word rate without bothering to see how long it takes.

I've found this system works really well for decent translations. Anything not worth revising I'll just tell the client it'll cost them more to revise than translate properly. I don't edit machine translation.

Anything that's hard to estimate such as additions to old text where only the additions need checking, by the hour, no estimate.


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