Need advice on fees for translating a book
Thread poster: Elsie Lim

Elsie Lim
Local time: 06:16
Chinese to English
+ ...
Nov 29, 2005

Hi, I am been asked to translate a book of around 270 pages. The book is a compilation of market information and includes many graphics.

A typical chapter starts with a few pages of introduction of the industry, and followed by pages of graphs and diagrams. Every section would have another short introduction and more graphs. The translation of captions and units are needed.

I am not sure how to charge my client. My usual approach is per word and hence wordcount is very important. But in this case, the client is not sure.

If I charge by per page... what would be a reasonable market rate? I would like to be fair to the client - as many of the pages are not text based. However, as the content spans many industries, I foresee long hours of research.

I would appreciate any advice on this - ensuring that I dont "underpay" myself and not be perceived as "overcharging"?

Thanks so much in advance.



Albert Golub  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:16
English to French
per-word approach advised Nov 29, 2005

Stick to your per-word approach considering that the content of a page can vary a lot (for instance from 50 to 500 words!). That makes a per-page rate almost nonsensical. Add something for the captions too.
Good luck


Magdalena Reyes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Per word Nov 29, 2005

I would also charge per word, because that is the best way to charge for what you have really produced. As you mentioned the book has different aspects to be considered (graphics,etc), so a page-rate is not your best choice.

You could consider maybe to give your customer a discount because of volume, but I would stick to word rate.

Good luck!


Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:16
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Rate per Word Nov 30, 2005

Compared with other charging methods, the rate per word method is the most fair. If you charge per page, it will stimulate doubt on the part of you and your client. It is possible that she/he will ask your explanation of how you set the rate, given the fact that the pages are composed of varying number of words.
If you charge per word, you will be safe no matter how the texts will be.
Hope this is useful to you.


Elsie Lim
Local time: 06:16
Chinese to English
+ ...
Thank you for all the advice Nov 30, 2005

Thank you all for your advice.

Yes, I shall stick to per word rate and see what they say. My first instinct was to use per word rate, but with a wordcount of more than 4 million words (as stated on the copyright page by the publisher), the amount then seemed ridiculously high based on my rate.

But I shall try this approach first and see what happens. Appreciate all the prompt response!



Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:16
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
A book of 4,000,000 words? Nov 30, 2005

That seems unlikely. 300 pages x 800 words = 240,000 words.



Elsie Lim
Local time: 06:16
Chinese to English
+ ...
Blunder over zeroes... Nov 30, 2005

Hi Gerard,

Thanks for pointing that out.

Yes, my mistake. It's 400,000 wds, not 4 million.

I have no idea why I mistook the figure on the page- must be the lack of caffeine in the morning!



Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:16
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
volume discounts? May 20, 2006

I'm in a similar position, with an offer to translate a non-fiction book. Charging by the word is clearly the way to go... but is one expected to offer a discount on one's normal rate per 1,000 words? And if so is there an accepted norm?

Thanks in advance,


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