Rates for translating a book from Spanish to English
Thread poster: Eileen Brophy

Eileen Brophy  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 24, 2017

Could anyone tell me what are the current rates for translating a book about Spanish history in America.
This project consists of 375 pages with some 325,000 words.

Does anyone know what the rate would be in Spain?

Thanks for any help


United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Hi Eileen Apr 25, 2017

This is not really a question we can answer. It depends on what you normally charge per word, how much you want the job, whether it's for an agency or a direct client, and whether you're prepared to offer a discount for so much work. Personally I wouldn't, because I think it could be a liability rather than an asset.

Also, from my own experience, it has to be a subject you're interested in. Otherwise it could end up being several months of daily torture.

Are you sure the wordcount is right? Nearly 900 words per page? It must be very small print.


MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:26
French to English
+ ...
My advice Apr 26, 2017

I translate a lot of literary material. It's where most of my income comes from. It pays less than more technical fields, but one of the reasons I do it is because I have regular clients and I enjoy the work. I prefer to do work that pays less (but still pays the bills) and that I enjoy, rather than work I find mind-numbingly dull.

When asked to do a huge project, I typically agree to a lower rate (knowing that XXX income is coming my way makes up for the lower rate: I'd rather know I have guaranteed work (and income) for a few months than scrambling around doing lots of other smaller jobs --but many here would disagree). That said, with a large project, here is what I recommend (besides lowering your rate, which could be around 0.06 $ word.)

-tell them you need to be paid in installments. Work out a deal where, for instance, you send them 2-4 chapters at a time and get paid for them. The money needs to be coming in at a regular rate.

-tell them you CANNOT forget all your other clients while you devote yourself to this one job, so come up with a deadline that allows you to do both.

Basically, find terms that are reasonable and that work for you.

Good luck. 3.25 K is a HUGE job! But it can be very rewarding to be so intensely immersed in a large project, and if you find the subject matter fascinating, that's even better. Either way, you will learn a lot, and that's never a bad thing. It will also look good on a CV--especially if it's published.


Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:26
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My take Apr 27, 2017

I agree with Phil's points (and I also think that there must be some mistake in the pages/word count figures you have provided).

I especially agree with Phil's comment about such a project having the potential of turning into "a daily torture" if you discover that you really do not enjoy the work. It would therefore be important for you to carefully consider your interest level in the material prior to accepting the project. You should also take a good look at the quality of the source text. Is it well written? Or will it require time-consuming adaptation as part of the translation project in order to produce a decent final product (i.e., including constant communication with the author or publisher to clarify this and that point)?

I speak from experience. One book that I agreed to "translate" was actually an unpublished slapdash text that involved as much editing as it did translation.

Yet another factor to consider is the deadline involved. If your word count of 325,000 is accurate, this would mean a minimum of three months of more or less constant work under the very best of circumstances (i.e., a polished source text, and optimal levels of familiarity with and interest in the material on your part). What is the proposed deadline?

I would suggest that a minimum of 6-7 months would be needed to complete such a project in such a way as to allow yourself time to take on other work, give yourself needed breaks, and not drive yourself completely crazy.

To directly address your question, I would say that the best way to arrive at a proposed rate would to be to 1.) gauge as best you can how many words you can translate per day; 2.) determine the minimum figure acceptable to you for such a day's work; 3.) figure out how many such days will be needed to translate the book; 4.) from the previous information, deduce a per-word rate that you can offer that would be acceptably profitable to you.

Finally, I would say that these kinds of jobs often seem more appealing at first glance than they turn out to be in practice. The prospect of a fairly sizable chunk of money is certainly attractive, but when you break it down into a per-hour rate, you might be surprised to find that what you earn on a book is less than half of what you typically make on more routine jobs.

I hope this helps. Best of luck!

[Edited at 2017-04-27 14:12 GMT]


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Rates for translating a book from Spanish to English

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