Translation rate for a huge manual/essay
Thread poster: Sofia Ortega

Sofia Ortega
Local time: 03:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 4, 2007

Hi guys,

I may have the opportunity to get a huge translation assigment. I have had a look at the first chapter of the book, it contains around 40,000 words. The manual has other 2 chapters so we are talking about 120,000 words.
I have done large translations before and I applied a 10-15% -depending on the client and how good their negiotiation skills wereicon_wink.gif but I have never translated a whole book.
My agency is asking for my best rate and I know literary translations ares often very badly paid but I am not sure what I should offer them as it's a whole book but the topic is not literary, it's some kind of an essay in law.

Should I offer them a 10-15% discount as I used to do for extended translations or should I apply a lower rate?

I am totally lost on this one...

Thanks!


 

Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:19
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Why a discount? Dec 4, 2007

Hi,
I was a bit astonished reading at the end of your post that you actually consider a discount of your normal rate. Why would you do that? The job will take you some 2-3 months, minimum, right? Why do you want to tie yourself completely with one job, one customer for 3 months and for lower price? This doesn't make much sense. I think normally you should ask MORE - to compensate the fact that for 3 months you will effectively be out of market.

My 2 c,
Magda

[Edited at 2007-12-04 21:57]


 

Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Discount? Dec 4, 2007

Offering a discount or not is entirely your decision. But here are some reasons not to:

a. You have additional work standardizing the terminology. You can find a reference in Chapter 3 to something in Chapter 1 and then you have to go back to Chapter 1 to make sure that Chapter 1 and Chapter 3 are consistent. That isn't such a problem in a 12,000 word text.

b. You're out of the market because your capacity is tied down on this. Are you going to lose customers you want?

c. Your finances are somewhat tied to this one customer (because you aren't taking other customers). Do you trust him/her/it?

On the other hand, if customers are few and far between, this might be a good idea.


 

Sofia Ortega
Local time: 03:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
hi again Dec 4, 2007

Hi guys,

Well, I am not going to lose any of my other customers, I'd have a more than acceptable deadline.

And I am also surprised about your responses, as I far I know it's rather common some agencies ask you for a discount for high volume translations or by match percentage...

At least, that's rather usual in Spain


 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:19
English to French
+ ...
Common, yes Dec 4, 2007

Sofia Ortega wrote:
I far I know it's rather common some agencies ask you for a discount for high volume translations[/quote]

You are right, it's rather common they ask for it - but it's not as common that freelancers offer such volume discounts or that they accept them when offered. It comes down to hourly revenue. If an hour of your time is worth, say, $50, then even with such hefty translations, your rate should reflect that. I would maybe propose a volume discount in the case of such a huge project, but not based on volume. I would rather base it on how much faster I would be able to translate (how much my output would increase) because of the fact that there is so much of the same document to translate. But that would probably be closer to 5% because it is impossible to quote upon reading the entire text and it is hard to assess how much speed you would be able to pick up after the first 20,000 words. So, just to be on the safe side, I would offer a smaller discount than what I think is appropriate - to cover the days when my output would be actually slower than estimated.

All the best!


 

Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:19
English to French
rate per word is not all Dec 5, 2007

I have translated some (technical) books. The price offered was not very attractive (roughly half the market price for such translations) but this is MUCH easier than what I get usually, for various reasons : better written, all on the same subject...
So it is much, much quicker. And, in the long run, the price does not look that bad.

Of course, I am not sure if it will be easy or not in your case, but you should thoroughly check the document, the style...

Personnally, I was offered a huge work recently, and was asked if I would accept a rebate for quantity. I answered no, but said that depending on the nature of the document, I could lower my rates on what is quicker to do...


 

Annelise Meyer  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:19
English to French
+ ...
Against discounts Dec 5, 2007

Sofia Ortega wrote:


I have done large translations before and I applied a 10-15% -depending on the client and how good their negiotiation skills wereicon_wink.gif but I have never translated a whole book.
My agency is asking for my best rate and I know literary translations ares often very badly paid but I am not sure what I should offer them as it's a whole book but the topic is not literary, it's some kind of an essay in law.



Hello,

I used to outsource work for an agency and as a translator, I felt really uncomfortable asking for volume discounts beacause I felt it was not fair. Though I understand this principle when we talk about manufacturing, I don't see the point of applying discounts on our work: to me, it would just mean lowering my word/hourly rate, because in the end we are no machines! If you track your productivity on a given job, you will find out that you always spend the same approximate amount of time per thousand words: you have to be paid for that time!
I am no "speaker" (I work in front of a computer all day!), so you might find the following article more interesting:
http://accurapid.com/journal/39payments.htm

Best,

Annelise


 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:19
Italian to English
+ ...
I never offer or accept volume-based discounts Dec 5, 2007

For all the reasons listed by others. Not even if the deadline is reasonable. I agree that it often takes longer to translate a large file, not less (unless there are huge numbers of repetitions, of course).

 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:19
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Asking for discount is not stupid, but Dec 5, 2007

it could be stupid to agree to a discount. Unless you really like the job and think you will enjoy working on it you should stick to your rates.

 

Gillian Scheibelein  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:19
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
My experience Dec 5, 2007

Hi Sofia,

I have just finished a book of the same size. It was a student textbook, very technical and it took me a lot longer than I anticipated.

The problems associated with being unavailable to regular customers should not be left out of the equation. And you should not charge less than you would earn with your regular work or you'll be losing money. On top of that, the author of the book will probably suggest alterations and may even add bits later on. In my book, each chapter went back and forth between myself and the authors in order to tweak the text, clear up ambiguities in the original or even to add extra bits. All this takes extra time - and is unpaid.

My advice: charge your normal rate and even add a bit to cover the extras

Good luck
Jill


 

William [Bill] Gray  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 03:19
Member (2006)
English
+ ...
A few thoughts... Dec 5, 2007

Sofia wrote:
I may have the opportunity to get a huge translation assigment. I have had a look at the first chapter of the book, it contains around 40,000 words. The manual has other 2 chapters so we are talking about 120,000 words.

If you think, Sofia, that the text appears to have enough repeating elements that you could allow a higher than normal rebate for 100% repeats, then you could do that.


I have done large translations before and I applied a 10-15% -depending on the client and how good their negiotiation skills wereicon_wink.gif but I have never translated a whole book.

You must only offer discounts if it actually means you will use less time. Some of the other repliers have also referred to this: what is your time worth?
So if the text is suitably repetitive, and you use a good CAT tool, then probably you will be able to work a bit faster over these months that you will use. You will also become more familiar with the style of the writer over such a long text and that will help too.


My agency is asking for my best rate and I know literary translations ares often very badly paid but I am not sure what I should offer them as it's a whole book but the topic is not literary, it's some kind of an essay in law.

Don't be fooled by agencies (apologies if this is one of the few wonderful ones with whom you have a perfect working relationship!); they will always want your best price; I often ask: do you want my best PRICE or my BEST WORK! Of course I always do my best in my work, but the point is that when people want a highly qualified and respected surgeon for their operation they are willing in fact to pay more for that! We are also specialists in a much needed profession and with much needed skills, so that should be paid for.


Should I offer them a 10-15% discount as I used to do for extended translations or should I apply a lower rate?

That is entirely up to you, but make sure you are paid a reasonable hourly rate.

Best of luck as you make your decision!icon_smile.gif

Bill


 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:19
Member (2003)
French to English
It depends on how busy you are Dec 5, 2007

If you are already fully utilised, then there would be no point in offering a discount, unless you have other reasons for wanting to do the work. If, however, your utilisation rate is lower then you might like the security of guaranteed work for a few months. If you do go ahead with it, though, I'd make sure you negotiate stage payments to limit the risk and avoid some cash-flow headaches at the end of the project.

Best,
Karen


 

Sofia Ortega
Local time: 03:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks guys Dec 10, 2007

Thanks a lot for your comments and advice.

 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:19
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
You'd have to be nuts to give a discount! Dec 10, 2007

It's hard not to laugh when an agency asks for volume discounts. If you are working to full capacity, they are asking you to take less money for working as hard as (or harder than) you already do. If you have reserve capacity you are being asked to sacrifice the opportunity to take jobs at a better rate.

The problems of terminological consistency can be very real in a large job. Right now I'm working on a project of nearly 300 pages with a source text that is not only inconsistent in its terminology but also uses a given term in the source language that often requires a number of different interpretations in context. Reviewing and editing such a text to make it "shine" is a lot more work than for your average 20 page report. So our colleague's suggestion that you might consider charging more for a big job is quite reasonable.

Being "out of the market" due to a big job is your choice - I usually avoid the issue by allowing no more than about 50% of my capacity to be taken up by a single job for any significant period of time and keeping "reserve capacity" for smaller things from our regular clientele. If the proposed deadline is inflexible and would require nearly exclusive devotion to a single job, then I would indeed consider a higher rate, especially if relations with your other clients may be affected significantly.


 

Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:19
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Delivery and payment in instalments Dec 12, 2007

Kevin Lossner wrote:
If the proposed deadline is inflexible and would require nearly exclusive devotion to a single job, then I would indeed consider a higher rate, especially if relations with your other clients may be affected significantly.


Not only that - in such a situation (i.e. one huge assignment keeping you busy over several months), it is crucial to agree on delivery and payment in instalments (ideally on a monthly basis) in order for you to not run out of cash.


 


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