Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
What proportion of proofreading/editing jobs do you have to reject?
Thread poster: Phil Hand

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:27
Chinese to English
Jul 7, 2011

I don't know if it's my pair or if I just attract the bad'uns or what, but I've had a series of proofreading/editing jobs over the last few months which where just terrible. By which I mean, the translation given to me was so far away from what I would regard as a decent standard of translation that I couldn't edit them; retranslation was necessary.

I get into trouble when that happens, because I have a fetish for getting docs right, and I just retranslate and hope the supplier will agree to reimburse me. That's OK for small jobs, but I'm now having to refuse large proofreading jobs because of the danger that it will actually be a retranslation job. I'm sure there are better ways to handle this, perhaps I should sit and think up a strategy.

Anyway, I was just wondering if my experience was typical. I would say less than 20% of the documents sent to me for editing are in a state that I consider editable/proofreadable. What proportion do you see? And how do you manage this problem?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 15:27
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I have no idea about the percentage Jul 7, 2011

but I do refuse a lot. I never accept a job (translation or proofreading) without seeing the text first, most of the times I have to say: sorry, but it will take too much time to proofread, it is best to retranslate! Sometimes the client comes back to me, others I never hear from him again... I suppose some of them are using Google Translate or some other similar tool!

Direct link Reply with quote
 
sailingshoes
Local time: 16:27
Spanish to English
100% Jul 7, 2011

I've just given up on them. Why bother? I'm also concerned about some texts offered that are quite obviously the work of non-natives. This is basically just a 'post-editing' scam aimed at getting cheap translation.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:27
Member
English to French
Payment by the hour Jul 7, 2011

Serious clients will not send you rotten translations, because you would charge the price of an edited translation (or more, while you're at it).

In your language pair, I suppose that given the lack of native English translating from Chinese, and maybe the lower rate that native Chinese translating into English would charge, you're bound to get a lot of nasty pieces of work from people whose English is not up to the level they think it is.

With a language direction like yours, I'd certainly highlight this fact to make sure I get well paid.

95+% of the documents that are sent to me are editable, because I don't take any "proofreading" from unknown outsourcers and I usually "know" the translator who did the work. And with an hourly rate, it is the agency's interest to outsource to proper translators.
I also turn down many proofreading jobs from agencies I work with, because, well, I prefer translating.

Good luck,
Philippe


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:27
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Agency procedures Jul 7, 2011

Philippe is exactly right. I may have to move to a model where I just say flatly, I need to know the translator to accept something for editing.

The problem is the agencies I work with seem to work to tight schedules, so I'll get an email saying are you available for editing, here's the source, the translation will be with you at X o'clock on July the Yth, we need the edited document by P o'clock the next day.

I say, fine, I'll do it, if it's a good translator. The big reputable agency says, yes, the translator's great.

Come the document, it's a mess. I retranslate, then invoice the company for retranslation (either by the hours put in, or at my translation rates). Then we have a fight, and then the agency pays up.

With short deadlines (sometimes 2 hours), there's no way it's going to be efficient to email them with the problem, wait for them to hold a meeting and then get back to me. I don't want to waste my time or theirs.

On the native/non-native thing - I generally refuse to edit translations by non-natives. Problem is that the agencies are now finding native English translators, but their comprehension of Chinese just isn't good enough. (Though I might add, even back in the day when I dealt with translations into English by native Chinese speakers, I would often find that half of the problems with their texts arose from failure to understand the source correctly. Being a native speaker doesn't make you a good reader, or mean that you'll be able to work out what specialist jargon in your language means.)


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:27
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Re-writing and disaster relief disguised as "proofreading" Jul 7, 2011

It is important to review any document you are asked to proofread before quoting a price, because what agencies label as "proofreading jobs" are often fundamentally defective translations that require major fixes.

And it must be said that the outsourcers who attempt to fob off texts that require re-translation as low-paying "proofreading jobs" know what they are doing, at least when they are native English-language speakers and the writing in question is in English (irrespective of the source language).

So review the text, determine how many hours it will take you to do the needed fixing and quote accordingly. But don't be surprised if you aren't offered the work, since outsourcers often don't want to pay a great deal in addition to what they have already paid for the lousy translation they've been delivered.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:27
Member (2008)
English to French
You're missing a step... Jul 7, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:

Philippe is exactly right. I may have to move to a model where I just say flatly, I need to know the translator to accept something for editing.

The problem is the agencies I work with seem to work to tight schedules, so I'll get an email saying are you available for editing, here's the source, the translation will be with you at X o'clock on July the Yth, we need the edited document by P o'clock the next day.

I say, fine, I'll do it, if it's a good translator. The big reputable agency says, yes, the translator's great.

Come the document, it's a mess. I notify the company and we agree that I bill XYZ$ for a retranslation. I retranslate, then invoice the company for retranslation (either by the hours put in, or at my translation rates). Then we have a fight, and then the agency pays up.

With short deadlines (sometimes 2 hours), there's no way it's going to be efficient to email them with the problem, wait for them to hold a meeting and then get back to me. I don't want to waste my time or theirs. But at the moment you're wasting yours while giving them a HUGE value added... the longer you keep accepting the situation, the harder it will be for you to change because they will have precedent (well last week you 'edited' 3 of this guy's translation, why are you charging more now). As for the tight deadline that's their problem, not yours - you are renegotiation the terms of the project at this point as the original description of work (editing) no longer applies. I posted about this on the translator network on linkedin; you might get fallback from the PMs telling you that you're putting them in a tough spot but you have to make them realize that it's quite the opposite actually... they're already in a tough spot... they just didn't know it yet... and you're only the messenger, not the perpetrator in this scenario, that the fault lies with the translator who delivered a shoddy product.

On the native/non-native thing - I generally refuse to edit translations by non-natives. Problem is that the agencies are now finding native English translators, but their comprehension of Chinese just isn't good enough. (Though I might add, even back in the day when I dealt with translations into English by native Chinese speakers, I would often find that half of the problems with their texts arose from failure to understand the source correctly. Being a native speaker doesn't make you a good reader, or mean that you'll be able to work out what specialist jargon in your language means.)


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:27
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
You're right, you're right Jul 7, 2011

I know you're right.
Actually, that's a good way to put it: job not what I agreed to.
And I should get on LinkedIn. Is it accessible from China?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:27
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Some calculations Jul 7, 2011

I don't differentiate between proofreading, reviewing, nor editing. I have one single post-peer-translation level, and I consider my mission to improve its quality to the best I can deliver. My general price for this kind of work is 1/4 of my standard rate for translation, as long as the original translation gets done by a competent human professional.

I define this competent human professional as about the same level I'm in. Yes, it exists. Almost five years ago a translation agency paired me up with such a professional, and we've been working together ever since. We differ sharply in age, sex, background, latitude, and longitude, yet we rate each other as equivalent translators. Now and then we swap the translation/reviewer roles, and it makes no difference.

Let's do some calculations. Assume that I would charge $100 for a certain good, final translation.

From what I said above, I'd charge $25 to review that same translation done by someone else. The outsourcer counts on the fact that I'll deliver the same quality on my own, either translating or reviewing. So they hire someone who will translate it badly for $50, hire me to review it for $25, and get a $100-worth translation for only $75!

That's why whenever I'm asked about my "proofreading" rates, I specify the competent human translator, explaining that, depending on the quality of the material provided, my reviewing rate may go up to my full translation rate.

I'm against charging by the hour for jobs that don't require me to "be available" during a certain perriod of time, like interpreting. If my lacking skills make me work too slowly, the client shouldn't be overcharged for that. Conversely, if I invested years developing a specific skill, it's not fair to underpay me because I can do it very quickly. For instance, after using it for 20+ years, with PageMaker I can do in one hour what an average user would take three. On the other hand, if the client required me to do the same job usng Quark, it could take me days to get it right. So hourly rates don't mean much unless they include what the person is capable of doing in that time.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:27
Member (2008)
English to French
Yup Jul 7, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:

I know you're right.
Actually, that's a good way to put it: job not what I agreed to.
And I should get on LinkedIn. Is it accessible from China?


About 90% of the time; you should just invest in a VPN; Astrill is fast enough that I just leave it on all the time; this way I can go on facebook, youtube, Kudoz as well as all the translator blogs.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 17:27
Member (2010)
Greek to English
Proofreading 'unknowns' Jul 7, 2011

Like most translators (in their early days, at least) I've been caught out by offering a per word rate for proofreading, only to find that I needed to do a retranslation. Now, per word rates are only for translators I already know and trust, who want a 2nd pair of eyes. Agencies get quoted an hourly rate, and I give them an estimate of the number of hours required when I see the text.


José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

I'm against charging by the hour for jobs that don't require me to "be available" during a certain perriod of time, like interpreting. If my lacking skills make me work too slowly, the client shouldn't be overcharged for that. Conversely, if I invested years developing a specific skill, it's not fair to underpay me because I can do it very quickly. For instance, after using it for 20+ years, with PageMaker I can do in one hour what an average user would take three. On the other hand, if the client required me to do the same job usng Quark, it could take me days to get it right. So hourly rates don't mean much unless they include what the person is capable of doing in that time.


I'm in a similar position, in a way. A large percentage of my work involves translating handwritten medical documents, and I'm getting pretty fast at doing it. Of course, I don't want to earn less per word the faster/better I get! But there's a simple solution. I offer an hourly rate which reflects what a good translator in the field should be earning, and I specify how many hours it will take based on how many hours I think a less-experienced translator would need, not based on how many hours I'll have to work. So, what I quote 'per hour' is well below what I actually earn in an hour, but the clients just see the 'per hour' rate and think it's reasonable. To put it another way, I might quote 40 Euros for 3 hours (120 Euros) and the client is happy. I finish the job in 1 hour (still 120 Euros) and then I do something else for 2 hours before sending the file to the client.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:27
English to Russian
+ ...
I reject Jul 7, 2011

100% of them

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:27
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Competent human translators Jul 8, 2011

Jose said:
I specify the competent human translator


Oh, I specify. I even define what a competent human translator is for them, and they agree to it. And the reason I work with these agencies is that I think they're generally OK. They're not obviously trying to rip me or anyone else off, they have proper procedures in place. But still, when the translations come, they're worthless. That's why I wonder about my pair, because there is a desperate lack of competent Cn>Eng translators. I honestly think the number of good Cn-En translators worldwide may be in double figures.

Robert said:
It is important to review any document you are asked to proofread before quoting a price


The problems with that are twofold: 1) the agency procedure, like I mentioned, whereby they have a timeslot for proofreading and they ask me to confirm availability beforehand; 2) it's not just price, there's also time investment.

For example, I just turned down flat a 10,000 word proofreading job from an agency. They wanted to give me 10 hours to do it, and I have one day available in the relevant timeframe. But based on my past experience with them, I suspect it won't be proofreading, it'll be retranslation, and to retranslate 10,000 words in one day is not possible. So I would be stuck with either (a) just doing a day's work and sending them an incomplete/substandard document; or (b) just rejecting it when I see the translation. I won't do (a), and I think (b) would be cruel, so I have to say no upfront instead.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:27
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
@Phil Jul 8, 2011

The system you mention is simply unworkable, for you cannot commit to doing a job in 3 hours that would in fact take 15 hours to do properly. And, unless you have abandoned any notion of professional self-respect or are completely desperate, you also cannot commit to doing a job for, say, $50.00 that is in fact rightly worth $250.00.

So, as I see it, the problem is that you choose to work within a system that requires you to commit to completing work that you have not seen within a given timeframe and at a set price.

In making that choice, you are doing nothing less than placing yourself at the mercy of those who contract your services.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The problem lies in your dealings with the customer Jul 8, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:
The problem is the agencies I work with seem to work to tight schedules, so I'll get an email saying are you available for editing, here's the source, the translation will be with you at X o'clock on July the Yth, we need the edited document by P o'clock the next day.

I say, fine, I'll do it, if it's a good translator. The big reputable agency says, yes, the translator's great.

This is where the problem lies: agencies ALWAYS think (or want to make you think) that all their translators are fantastic when it comes to discussing jobs with proofreaders.

It would be best for you to ask the customer to send you a sample of the translation and the source. Explain that you have a tight schedule too and that you cannot risk accepting the proofreading step of a document with a poor translation quality. Accept or reject the job depending on the quality you actually see. This is what I always do and it is working for me.

If I am not very busy (and this happens rarely), I accept a bad translation and work to fix it, but in this case I always make sure to charge by the actual hours spent and warn the customer about it beforehand, so that they can accept or reject my charges. I give them an hour estimate, but always say that the time charged will be the actual time spent. I thus remain on the safe side with poor translations.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

What proportion of proofreading/editing jobs do you have to reject?

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search