Advice on rates for large proofreading project (50,000 words)
Thread poster: Rachael Walker

Rachael Walker  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:16
Spanish to English
Apr 24, 2011

Hi,

I have been asked to do a proofread of a translation from Spanish. I undertsand that the text should be minus spelling errors, and that i am simply required to 'polish' it, ensuring it sounds as if it were written by a native speaker (I've not actually seen any of the text so cannot say how accurate this is). The text is 50,000 words long (in Spanish, so will vry somewhat once translated). I would usually charge an hourly rate of £25, but as i've never proofread a text this
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Hi,

I have been asked to do a proofread of a translation from Spanish. I undertsand that the text should be minus spelling errors, and that i am simply required to 'polish' it, ensuring it sounds as if it were written by a native speaker (I've not actually seen any of the text so cannot say how accurate this is). The text is 50,000 words long (in Spanish, so will vry somewhat once translated). I would usually charge an hourly rate of £25, but as i've never proofread a text this long, i'm unsure whether to go by the hour or per word.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 14:16
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I would charge per word Apr 24, 2011

as it would be extremely difficult to estimate how many hours you will need without seeing the text first...

 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:16
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Why would you change your method? Apr 24, 2011

If you normally charge by the hour, why would you change it for this project? Also, I hope you are going to check out the translation before you agree on any rates, deadline or anything. Otherwise you may discover that "polishing" is actually rewriting stuff that came out of Google Translator's rear end...

Katalin


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:16
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
What difference does it make? Apr 24, 2011

Teresa Borges wrote:
I would charge per word

as it would be extremely difficult to estimate how many hours you will need without seeing the text first...


And why would it be easier to set a per word rate for an unseen text???

It doesn't matter which method you use, per word, or per hour or per degree Celsius, the point is you want to earn your desired hourly (or daily) income. You need to see the text, and based on that estimate how much of it you can process in an hour (or a day), then calculate the rate in whatever unit you want.
Katalin

[Edited at 2011-04-24 10:28 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My own personal view Apr 24, 2011

Rachael Walker wrote:
I undertsand that the text should be minus spelling errors, and that i am simply required to 'polish' it, ensuring it sounds as if it were written by a native speaker


So, it's being translated by a non-native speaker who is not capable of making it sound as though they were a native speaker. So, they've "done their best" and put it through a spell-checker. That 'polishing' could be anything from minor tweaks here and there (if they really are near native equivalent) to a complete rewrite.

(I've not actually seen any of the text so cannot say how accurate this is).


In that case, how can you quote anything? Everything depends on the quality of the translation. Indeed, the quality of the translation from start to finish. I've seen first pages that were quite acceptable but later ones in a large document were complete rubbish as the translator, completely overwhelmed by the task, just gave up and probably used a machine.

I would usually charge an hourly rate of £25, but as i've never proofread a text this long, i'm unsure whether to go by the hour or per word.


As far as I'm concerned, once I know the exact extent of the job to be done, I'm happy to quote either in hours of words. My hourly rate is what pays the bills. Working from that, my calculator will give me a per word rate. But then I always stick to my quote, no matter how long it takes. Perhaps other translators quote for 10 hours then send an invoice for 12 hours, so quoting per word would lose them that flexibility.


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:16
English
+ ...
Yes, you need to see the text first. Apr 24, 2011

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

If you normally charge by the hour, why would you change it for this project? Also, I hope you are going to check out the translation before you agree on any rates, deadline or anything. Otherwise you may discover that "polishing" is actually rewriting stuff that came out of Google Translator's rear end...

Katalin


"Polishing" usually means editing. Proofreading is identifying and correcting only typos and errors in punctuation, spelling and minor errors in grammar. Editing includes those things but also rewriting. On my profile I go into more detail about the difference between editing and proofreading.

But if you charge by the hour, your hourly rate should be your hourly rate, no matter what you are doing, proofreading or editing. Just be aware that editing requires more time.


 

Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 18:46
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Agree Apr 24, 2011

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

Otherwise you may discover that "polishing" is actually rewriting stuff that came out of Google Translator's rear end...

Katalin



I have always found the word "polishing" quite ominous.


 

Rachael Walker  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:16
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 24, 2011

Thank you all.

Obviously i will be asking to see the text before i can give a quote, but this has given me some useful food for thought.

Rachael


 

Helen Johnston  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:16
Member (2007)
Catalan to English
+ ...
Recent experiences Apr 24, 2011

I accepted a large proof reading job based on the agency's estimate of the time involved that turned out to require major rewriting and took a lot longer. I pointed this out to the agency, who were grateful, but of course didn't offer to pay anything extra. As I had agreed the price up front, all I could do was notch it up to experience.

Lesson learned, a similar job came from another agency some time later, who estimated the job would take about 24 hours, or 3 working days. I acce
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I accepted a large proof reading job based on the agency's estimate of the time involved that turned out to require major rewriting and took a lot longer. I pointed this out to the agency, who were grateful, but of course didn't offer to pay anything extra. As I had agreed the price up front, all I could do was notch it up to experience.

Lesson learned, a similar job came from another agency some time later, who estimated the job would take about 24 hours, or 3 working days. I accepted the job but on the proviso that I would contact them immediately I started work if the quality was not acceptable or I estimated it would take longer, which the agency agreed was fair.

When the translation arrived it was extremely poor, so I contacted the agency by mid-day of the first day, giving examples to illustrate why the translation was not up to standard. The agency agreed to my new estimated time (including extra payment for working through a weekend in order to meet the deadline they had agreed with their client).

This is the approach I will use in future, reserving the right to refuse the job if the quality is not up to scratch, and giving the agency the option to agree to the revised price.

To get an idea of how long it will take you, I recommend proof reading for an hour, randomly selecting sections from about a third and two thirds of the way through the document (as another poster mentioned, large translations can often start off quite well and then go to pot later on). Count how many words you have managed to proof-read in the hour, and multiply by the number of hours in your original estimate. If the result falls a long way short of the total wordcount in the document, you've got a problem, but now is the time to contact the agency to renegotiate, not at the end.
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FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:16
English to Hungarian
+ ...
If they will accept payment by hours... Apr 24, 2011

then that's what you should use. Charging by the hour avoids the whole "well, I had to rewrite a lot of it and I'm not getting paid for that" problem, which could very easily come up with a job of this size.
I would expect the client to reject payment by the hour, though, in which case you'll have to charge by the word. In that case, definitely spend at least half an hour poking around in the document before you give a quote, to see what you're getting into.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 07:16
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
See the document first Apr 24, 2011

Never, never, never accept any assignment, whether translation or proofreading, without seeing the document first. Would you approach a contractor about "some renovations in my kitchen" and expect him to give you a cost estimate without looking at the kitchen?

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:16
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fishy Apr 24, 2011

Rachael Walker wrote:
...that i am simply required to 'polish' it, ensuring it sounds as if it were written by a native speaker (I've not actually seen any of the text so cannot say how accurate this is).

Fishy, fishy.

First, ask for a generous sample of the work (for instance 5-7 thousand words) so that you can see what you are facing. Don't agree upon anything without seeing the sample first.

The best approach is to charge by the hour, if you ask me. Customers always think that "you only need to polish it a bit", just because they do not realise how bad the text it is. It is best to charge by the hour and ask for a big sample so that you can set the customer's expectations right from the beginning about the expected cost.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 14:16
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Katalin Apr 24, 2011

The only thing Rachael knows is that the text is 50,000 words long.

I am sorry if my answer was rather unclear (I was in a hurry this morning) and of course I never accept a job without seeing the text first!

[Edited at 2011-04-24 17:31 GMT]


 


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