How much to charge for a book translation English-German?
Thread poster: Teodora G

Teodora G  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:47
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
Oct 28, 2016

Hi everyone,

One of my friends has been translating for a while and he asked me recently how much to charge for a book translation from German into English. It's a book about sports. I work with a different language pair in a different field (marketing and advertising), so I really don't know what advice to give him. Also, I have never translated books. What would your advice be? How would you structure your rates for that type of job?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Several factors are involved Oct 28, 2016

Translating whole books often costs more than the client is willing or able to pay.
This is only partly the translator's problem, but has to be considered before starting on a large amount of work that one might not be paid for!

I have charged my full rate, but at the lower end of my scale for the books I have translated. If the deadlines are reasonable and the translator is comfortable with the subject field, so the work goes smoothly, this seems fair.

I would not know about sport - it is not a field I personally would take on.

I regretted reducing my rate for a book on architecture, which called for a good deal of research and the deadline was not very flexible - the author wanted chapters delivered along the way. For a couple of months I was working very hard at a low rate, and turning down better-paid work.

The problem is that there is usually very little benefit to the translator from a large scale project. Checking for consistency and cohesion in a large text takes far longer than skimming a few pages, and although a CAT tool may be useful for keeping track of terminology and so on, there are very few repeats and fuzzy matches.

From the my point of view, 85 000 words is two months' solid work, whether it is in the form of one book, or whether it comes as twenty smaller jobs, which is more typical of the kind of work I do.

With cookery books and a delightful book on children in nursery schools, I was able to work at a faster speed, and especially with the cookery books, there were standard phrases like 'bake in the middle for the oven for an hour at 200 degrees'. So this justified a slight reduction in the rate.
On the other hand, there was quite a lot of checking that equivalent ingredients were available on the British market and about their suitability for diabetics in one case.

The book has to be 'localised' or adapted for the new target readers, so the amount of work required is often comparable to any other texts which translators charge full rates for, and the rate should be set accordingly.

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United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
That was a very good summary, Christine Oct 28, 2016

Books can indeed be more of a liability than an asset, and your friend should think carefully before taking it on.

That said, they can also be lucrative, and they can be fun.

As for how much to charge: the advice we always give here is decide how long the job will take, how much you want it, and how much you think a day of your time is worth. It will also depend on whether your friend is working for an agency or a direct client.

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Usch Pilz
Local time: 20:47
English to German
+ ...
often a good source: the VdÜ Oct 29, 2016

Here is some info you friend can double-check on the pages of the VdÜ:
Also noteworthy:


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How much to charge for a book translation English-German?

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