Rates for short but tricky texts
Thread poster: lisavoigt

lisavoigt
English to German
Nov 9, 2017

Hi,

I'm sure this question has been posted before, but re rates, how do people on here very short but tricky texts. The text in question was less than a page, but between me and the proofreader we probably spent a good 12 hours on it. If I applied the maximum rate (I usually charge per norm line), it would come up to only about 70 euros, which is obviously not good enough.
A minimum rate, but how high? Charge per hour, but how much?

Thanks for your suggestions!


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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:31
German to English
Charge by the hour Nov 9, 2017

For texts where a per-word rate doesn't properly reflect the work involved (poetry is an obvious case in point) I always charge by the hour. Of course that normally means that you need to assess in advance how many hours the work will take so that you can give the client a quote, and it is always possible to get your assessment wrong (in which case you have a choice between trying to negotiate a higher rate or accepting your original quote with a good grace). I have some clients who simply let me do the work on an hourly basis and tell them afterwards how many hours were involved, but one isn't always lucky enough to have that sort of relationships with clients.

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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:31
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
12 hours???? Nov 9, 2017

Yes, for a text that tricky you need to charge by the hour or maybe negotiate a very generous lump sum.
I can't believe anyone would need that much time unless it were simply a list of very obscure words, or of course poetry.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:31
Member
Italian to English
Project price Nov 9, 2017

I listened to a podcast on setting rates recently. A couple of the translators interviewed recommend setting project prices - one in particular said that at the end of the day, the client just wants to know the price he has to pay, he more than likely doesn't care how you actually arrived at that price. That may be something to think about.

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lisavoigt
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
communication is probably key ... Nov 9, 2017

Thanks for the feedback, and I completely agree, Fiona. I often find that the standard rates don't work for a certain project and would prefer to make them more project-specific. But it's also true what Armorei said, that most clients aren't really willing to grant that kind of freedom. they want to know your rate upfront and then expect you to stick to them ...
I guess I'll just have to talk to the client in question and try to make my point - and in future discuss these things beforehand.

Thanks guys!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:31
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Quite agree Nov 9, 2017

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

I listened to a podcast on setting rates recently. A couple of the translators interviewed recommend setting project prices - one in particular said that at the end of the day, the client just wants to know the price he has to pay, he more than likely doesn't care how you actually arrived at that price. That may be something to think about.


Agencies make a big issue of word rates - and it tends to look as if you are selling grains of rice or groceries by the kilo... When in fact even groceries come at very different kilo prices!

Many clients will happily pay a rounded-off fee, and it is then far easier to check the VAT or whatever else goes with it. They really don't care about scraping off the last couple of cents, as long as the rate is not unreasonable.

You may have to convince them that your rate IS reasonable, if it is a tricky text and takes a long time, but that is another story. Basically, a round 30 Euros is just as reasonable as 23.57 Euros for research and translation, + 3.43 for formatting + 1.17 for administration... or however you choose to itemise it!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:31
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Tricky Nov 9, 2017

lisavoigt wrote:

....between me and the proofreader we probably spent a good 12 hours on it.



The differences of opinion between you and the proofreader must have been very great, if it took you 12 hours to reach agreement !

Was it the text that was tricky, or the proofreader? Had you worked with that proofreader before?

Was the text tricky because it was outside your usual areas of specialisation? Because it was badly written? Why was it tricky?




[Edited at 2017-11-09 17:15 GMT]


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lisavoigt
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
difficulties Nov 9, 2017

No, sorry, I didn't mean the proofreader and I spent 12 hours discussing it. 12 hours was the approximate total of time we spent on it, meaning the initial reading/ assessment of problems, background reading and translation done by me, then her proofreading part and about 2 hours of going over it together.
And it wasn't that it was badly written, just intentionally ambiguous, I had to contact the client about some things etc.
and yes, I'd worked wit the proofreader before lots of times, we work really well together.
And I admit, we might have taken extra long on this particular text (we knew it would be published, we'd like a regular relationship with the client etc), but even six hours - which doesn't seem excessive to me - would've been too long if I applied the minimum rate for short texts suggested by lots of professionals online, as what I've come across varies between 75 and 100 Euros. So actually, this particular job is what made me raise the question here, but I've thought about this before, even when it didn't take that long: When you also have to pay a proofreader (even if it's only for an hour), how can really short texts be worth your while?

Or do you guys not work with proofreaders on short texts?

Thanks!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:31
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Cut out the proofreader Nov 10, 2017

lisavoigt wrote:

....When you also have to pay a proofreader ...


I didn't realise the proofreader was hired by you!


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:31
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My two cents Nov 10, 2017

I’ve been working with the same proofreader for a few years. I have an arrangement with a trusted colleague (we worked in-house together for 20 years) where we proofread each other's work. Quality-wise, it's the BEST decision I've ever made! When a text, for whatever reason, requires more time than what a client would typically pay, we regard those hours as experience…

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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:31
Member
Italian to English
Pricing strategies Nov 10, 2017

The only "right" price is the one you and your customer agree on. It has nothing to do with "freedom" - just set the price you think is fair for the text in question, communicate it to your customer, and be prepared to justify it if need be. You could try applying your regular rate, then look at the text again, and see if the price you'll be paid reflects the time it will take, the complexity, formatting and so on. Like Christine says, it's agencies who have gotten us fixated with word rates, which often don't do justice to certain jobs. And the customer really DOESN'T care how you arrived at that price, he just wants to know what it is and if it's right for him.

At the risk of raising a few hackles, I believe it's not always possible to be paid what a job is worth - it's a risk that comes with the territory. I completely underestimated a text I did recently, and it turned out to be so complex that it took me much longer than anticipated. That's okay with me if it's an occasional thing, but it should also set alarm bells ringing. If I want to continue accepting such texts, what reading or other preparation so I need to do to MAKE it worth my while? Maybe I enjoy the challenge and what the text teaches me, and don't care about earning pittance on it. Or maybe I decide that particular type of text ISN'T worth my time and I pass it up the next time an offer comes my way.

I do medicine and art, and if I accept a text on nuclear submarine maintenance, it's pretty clear I'm not going to make any money on it. Not to mention putting lives at risk. But that's another story.


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Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 18:31
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
How do you spend 12 hours on ONE page? Nov 11, 2017

Actually, it's even better: a good 12 hours on less than one page.

Did they print everything in size 3 and cram several thousands words in that page? Was it just a list of technical term that required intensive research? Was it handwritten by a doctor in a hurry?

[Edited at 2017-11-11 00:53 GMT]


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AnshuCh143
India
set your own rate Nov 12, 2017

lisavoigt wrote:

Hi,

I'm sure this question has been posted before, but re rates, how do people on here very short but tricky texts. The text in question was less than a page, but between me and the proofreader we probably spent a good 12 hours on it. If I applied the maximum rate (I usually charge per norm line), it would come up to only about 70 euros, which is obviously not good enough.
A minimum rate, but how high? Charge per hour, but how much?

Thanks for your suggestions!






Hey! I had a requirement of translating the text from English to Spanish and it was done perfectly by a writer from ContentMart. I found that the rates were pocket-friendly and they do not charge on per hour basis. Give it a try!


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Rates for short but tricky texts

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