different sponsor- different pricing?
Thread poster: JKB

United States
Local time: 11:16
English to German
+ ...
Mar 26, 2003

I was recently contacted by somebody who wants a handwritten diary translated. It belonged to her great grandfather, a Jewish Immigrant in the USA. I did a test translation and send her a quote. The diary consists of 650 pages. I timed myself while I translated the pages. It took me about one hour to translate 7 pages. I agreed with the client that I would charge her by the hour and we came up with $14 per hour which I thought was more than fair. That would make a total of $1300, $650 upfront.

Now today she calls and tells me she ran into somebody who works in the Holocaust archives at the university. That person wants \"to have a look\" at the diary. Here is what I think happened: she smelled money and wants to know if the piece can be published a la Anne Frank. I don\'t blame her, the same thought crossed my mind when I did the test translation. Now, I am smelling money too and my question is: Granted she comes back and wants me to go ahead and translate it, would you charge her more? In other words, if she finds a publisher, can I expect that this publisher would pay me a better rate as a translator than she would as a private individual?

I would be greatful for your input.




Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:16
German to English
There's an ethical issue Mar 27, 2003

You and the client agreed upon a price for the job. Your price was based upon an estimated output, not what the client expected to earn from the translation. Whether the original price you quoted was sufficient in terms of the client\'s profit is really irrelevant at this juncture.

Let me pose this problem: you go to a farmer\'s market and ask the price of a chicken, which is $X. The farmer estimates the selling price of that chicken based upon the cost of feeding the animal, maintaining the coop and travelling to market, plus the time he has to spend selling chickens. Let\'s say that after he quotes the price, you say \"I\'m inviting the CEO of XXX company to dinner. I\'m a VP at the company and want to make more money by impressing him.\" Then the farmer says, \"in that case, you\'ll have to pay $X+10, since my chicken tastes so good; you\'ll surely get a raise.\"

You\'d walk away.

You quoted a price based upon what you thought was a fair arrangement. Let\'s suppose that you raise the price because you expect these memoirs to be a best-seller. If, like most books of this kind, sales are modest at best, are you prepared to give some money back? Of course not!

The point of this exercise is that you should set a sensible price up front. If, at this point, you think you\'re entitled to a share of royalties, make that a separate negotiating item.



United States
Local time: 11:16
English to German
+ ...
chicken and translation Mar 27, 2003

Thank you for taking the time to comment on my question, Kevin! I thought your chicken-story was quite amusing.

However, I don\'t fully agree with you. The client told me to translate the document for her so that she could share it with family members. I quoted her accordingly. Don\'t you think that with a possible publication in mind, you would approach the whole working process differently? Not that I would carelessly translate, add things that are not here and leave out things that to me sound irrelevant - don\'t get me wrong. But considering your work as a published book is - at least to me - a totally different story than translating for a family who reads great grandfather\'s stories on cold winter evenings.

Also, the client did verbally agree with me to have the document translated. When she \"put the translation on hold\", she was very evasive and not open about why she had given the document to somebody else to \"take a look\". Would you agree to do the translation if you know as a fact that she will have it published? Money matters aside, I think there\'s an ethical point too. Aren\'t translators entitled to know why and for what purpose they are asked to do a job?

I do think that I offered the job at a reasonable price. I don\'t agree that to quote you:

\"Whether the original price you quoted was sufficient in terms of the client\'s profit is really irrelevant at this juncture.\"


Russian to Hebrew
+ ...
Kfulton is right... Mar 28, 2003

... you quoted the project and that\'s it!

You have no right to discuss whatever the client wants to do with HIS document.


United Kingdom
Local time: 16:16
English to German
+ ...
I agree with Karen Mar 28, 2003

She quoted an exceptionally low price because she thought the translation was for use within the family only. I don\'t know what the legal situation in your country is but the translation is your intellectual property and I am pretty sure, if the client wants to publish it she has to get your permission. Maybe you should mention that to her and negotiate an addional fee and/or royalties with her or the publisher.

The comparison of translations with chickens is just ludicrous. For one thing, unless you\'re Jesus you can\'t multiply the chicken and feed thousands of people on it but that\'s what happens with a translation, figuratively speaking, when you publish it. The lack of self-esteem among translators baffles me. Some don\'t know their translations from their chickens.

Karen, I suggest you get some information about intellectual property rights before you agree to publication.

Regards, Olaf


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different sponsor- different pricing?

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