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Agency wanting to negotiate - are these rates too low?
Thread poster: scotters

scotters
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:26
French to English
+ ...
Sep 13

Hi everyone,

I'm new to negotiating with agencies so I was looking for a bit of advice. I've set my rates at 0.09 GBP FR>EN and 0.08 GBP IT>EN for general documents and have written in my CV that I would negotiate rates for specialist documents. I applied to an agency specialising in pharmaceuticals, an area which I am specialising in. This agency asked to negotiate and is proposing £58-80 per 1,000 words for my language combinations for pharmaceutical texts. To me this seems low, especially considering this will be for specialist texts - does anyone have any advice on how to respond?

They also have asked for hourly rates. I'm only just entering the world of being a full time freelancer so I'm not actually sure how long I would take to complete a text in hours nor how much to charge per hour.

Another thing they have asked for is for a minimum fee for texts that are less than 500 words - not sure on this either?

Sorry for all the questions but any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you in advance!


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:26
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Agency wanting to negotiate Sep 13

The rates the agency is offering you are ridiculous and abusive, especially for a specialized area such as pharmaceuticals. Stick to your original rates. If they don't accept them, drop them and look elsewhere. Also, try to target end-clients where you could charge even more. Good luck!

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
French to English
Hourly rates Sep 13

Hourly rates are not usually a good idea for translation, even less so as you are starting out, for the very reason you say yourself.
After a few years, you get a pretty good idea of how much you can do in an hour, but that happens when you are familiar with the type of text, with a particular client, etc.

When you start out and are finding your feet, you will be slower than someone who is more experienced. This means that as a newcomer you will theoretically be charging more than an experienced translator. Clients would find that hard to swallow. Newcomers should charge the ordinary commercial per word rate. If you have specialist skills to offer, then you should increase your rate to at least the normal rate for that specialization. Bear in mind that as you are likely to take more time than an old hand, you are effectively making less £££ per hour anyway. So charge normal per word rates for the field and skill set. Over time, you will pick up speed which in itself will make you more profitable. If an agency is not offering decent rates, look for other agencies. You'll need way more than one anyway.

Proofreading is often charged at an hourly rate, but even then, not always. You will often find proofreading offers at a per word rate, at one third the translation rate.

[Edited at 2018-09-13 22:21 GMT]


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Note also Sep 14

That the agency will then ask you for fuzzy matches discounts when using a CAT tool-and for pharmaceuticals, it makes sense to use a CAT tool for consistency, repetition, speed, so take this into consideration too when negotiating. Besides, you will then find it difficult to raise your rates in the future, therefore take all these into consideration.

José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:26
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
It's hard initially Sep 14

scotters wrote:
does anyone have any advice on how to respond?

I don't know your pair, but if it seems low, even to you as a beginner, it probably is.

At first you may have to turn down a lot of work before you find something you can accept. When I started out I was working part-time on translation, so at least I had some other income. This can be difficult, psychologically, but as others have said, you can very seldom raise rates.

In particular, if the client seems to be a "keeper" (lots of potential work, high ratings on Blue Board or paymentpractices etc.), it's worth holding out for a serious rate. Quality clients will pay a decent rate.

Regards,
Dan


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Philippe SALMON
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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 08:26
German to English
+ ...
don't negotiate or "apply" Sep 14

I applied to an agency specialising in pharmaceuticals, an area which I am specialising in. This agency asked to negotiate and is proposing £58-80 per 1,000 words for my language combinations for pharmaceutical texts.

Since they are not employers, they are your potential customers. They are in fact applying for your services, and you have your fees. If they can't afford your fees, they should go elsewhere. A common experience is that customers who want to pay low fees often end up being difficult to work with in other ways. You also want assurance that you will be paid for your work, and on time.


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Sandra& Kenneth  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 16:26
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
A minimum fee is a good idea Sep 15

scotters wrote:

Another thing they have asked for is for a minimum fee for texts that are less than 500 words - not sure on this either?


You should define for yourself a minimum fee for short texts under a certain threshold (whatever you decide is the minimum you care to manage). Otherwise, you may find yourself doing, billing, monitoring and reporting very short jobs of a few words that are really not worth your time. Such jobs usually also involve very short deadlines.

"Proofreading" may be a pitfall. It may be another name for redoing a cheap translator's job.

That said, the agency's rates for pharmaceutical translations are very low. And yes, watch out for CAT discounts when dealing with such companies.

icon_smile.gif
Sandra


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Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 15:26
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Nothing is too low or too small Sep 15

I didn't mind working for similar rates when there was nothing better under the horizon. Sooner or later better opportunities arise, and you stick with those clients.

I've never had a minimum rate. It seems irrelevant to me. If I translate 8 words, I charge 8 words. Sooner or later some nice 50k appears.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What about the peripheral tasks? Sep 15

Daniel Frisano wrote:
I've never had a minimum rate. It seems irrelevant to me. If I translate 8 words, I charge 8 words. Sooner or later some nice 50k appears.

What would worry me in your case is the fact that you'd probably be spending far more time doing the file handling, emailing, bookkeeping, etc. than you'd spend on the translation itself. Those are all one-off overheads per job, so they become inconsequential if you're sitting translating for hours. For two minutes of translation, they're far from inconsequential.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:26
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A different perspective Sep 16

At £80 per 1,000 words, if you can translate 4000 words a day, you will get £320. Is that income that low in your country?

[Edited at 2018-09-16 14:36 GMT]


Richard Purdom
 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
£ 58-80 Sep 16

You wrote £58-80.
What does it mean?


 

scotters
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:26
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply Sep 16

David GAY wrote:

You wrote £58-80.
What does it mean?


Hi David, this means per thousand wordsicon_smile.gif

Thank you for your advice everyone. So far, I've gone back to the agency and asked if those rates for specialist texts or more general texts. I'll see what they say...

[Edited at 2018-09-16 20:09 GMT]


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 21:26
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Low? Sep 16

jyuan_us wrote:

At £80 per 1,000 words, if you can translate 4000 words a day, you will get £320. Is that income that low in your country?

[Edited at 2018-09-16 14:36 GMT]

It's not a great way to do the math, but £320/day and 20 working days/month comes out to a monthly income of £6400 and an annual income of £76800, which blows the average UK professor and accountant out of the water and edges out many lawyers with less than 10 years of experience, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here.


 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 15:26
Member (2016)
English to German
4000 words? Sep 16

Lincoln Hui wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:

At £80 per 1,000 words, if you can translate 4000 words a day, you will get £320. Is that income that low in your country?

[Edited at 2018-09-16 14:36 GMT]

It's not a great way to do the math, but £320/day and 20 working days/month comes out to a monthly income of £6400 and an annual income of £76800, which blows the average UK professor and accountant out of the water and edges out many lawyers with less than 10 years of experience, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here.


I think yuan_us asked a rhetoric question here.

But apart from that, a daily output of 4000 words in a pharmazeutics specialty field might not be realistic. And the £80 were obviously the upper limit of the agency with lots of room downwards. And then there might be deductions for fuzzies and whatnot. Doing the math is always a good idea, but you need the correct inital values for that.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 21:26
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
My bad Sep 16

On second look I definitely misunderstood what jyuan wrote, so my bad on that.

 
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