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Help needed regarding a RUSH large editing project
Thread poster: Ninon Dion

Ninon Dion  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:03
Member (2013)
English to French
+ ...
Sep 10, 2013

Hi everyone,

To make a long story short, a client asked me to edit a 40,000 words technical document with a deadline of 1 to 2 days, and he wants an hourly estimate (not in terms of fees but in terms of how many billable hours). Is that even doable? He says the whole translation process took 5 days.

This would be my first large technical copy editing work, and I'm not sure how to handle this... ideas, suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks so much.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:03
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
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Some guidelines Sep 11, 2013

1) Insist on seeing the translated file first. It could be anything from nearly flawless to needing a full rewrite. The fact that it was allegedly translated 5 days means that either a single translator worked at superhuman speed, or multiple translators were involved. I wouldn't touch either of those scenarios.
2) Count on 1500 words per hour max. It will probably be closer to 1000-1300. Those are just broad guidelines. Your mileage may vary.

[Edited at 2013-09-11 00:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-09-11 00:18 GMT]


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Ninon Dion  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:03
Member (2013)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I have the document Sep 11, 2013

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

1) Insist on seeing the translated file first. It could be anything from nearly flawless to needing a full rewrite. The fact that it was allegedly translated 5 days means that either a single translator worked at superhuman speed, or multiple translators were involved. I wouldn't touch either of those scenarios.


Hi Rudolf,

The client provided me with a copy of the document. From what I've seen it's pretty well translated, but the content is technical, as it's a user's manual.


2) Count on 1500 words per hour max. It will probably be closer to 1000-1300. Those are just broad guidelines. Your mileage may vary.

[Edited at 2013-09-11 00:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-09-11 00:18 GMT]


So if I take into consideration that it's close to 40,000 words, it should take me about 30 hours? I have explained to him the difference between proofreading and editing, and he says he wants me to edit..... but the document will be in PDF format, on which he wants me to put "sticky notes" with my indicated corrections.

I'm so confused.... I really like this client and want to do right by him, but I also want to be sure to be able to deliver quality.

Anyways, thank you so much for your help, it means a lot.


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The Misha
Local time: 17:03
Russian to English
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Editing in PDF? Sticky notes? Sep 11, 2013

This will easily double the time you'll have to spend on it. Personally, I wouldn't touch anything like that with a ten foot pole. Then again, I don't do technical. Lucky me.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:03
Chinese to English
Not possible in the time Sep 11, 2013

40,000 words in one day is just stoopid.

40,000 words in two days *could* be possible, but a hefty rush fee will be required, because you *will* be working on 4 hours sleep.

I know it's scary saying no to a client, but when you're right, it's OK to tell them that they are being unrealistic.

If the translation was really done in 5 days (and that's a big if), then they should know that the proofreading will take half that time again. 2 days would be an extraordinary rush. 2.5 days would only be a mad rush.

It's really worth having a conversation with the client about what they want. If they want it done well, they need to know that that takes time. If they aren't that fussed about quality, and just really need to hit their deadline, well, that's OK too, but you have to decide if you want to do that work. Personally, I say no when clients are that rushed, unless they beg me and pay lots!

If you approach the conversation in the right way, clients will listen. Don't say, "It's too much to do." Do say, "Let me talk to you about how to get the best results in the time we've got."

Also, you have to talk to them about the pdf thing. You can't edit like that.


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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:03
English to Indonesian
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Final edit Sep 11, 2013

Since the document is in PDF, and you are to make any changes with notes, I suppose they want you to do the final edit, before it goes to the printer. This means that the translation should already be excellent/good enough (and doesn't have to be checked against the original document), and they want you to make as little changes as possible. Find "typo's" and things. It's still a good idea to have a look at it before you accept the job, but it should be "doable."

Cheers,

Hans


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Ninon Dion  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:03
Member (2013)
English to French
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Communication is open Sep 11, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

40,000 words in one day is just stoopid.

40,000 words in two days *could* be possible, but a hefty rush fee will be required, because you *will* be working on 4 hours sleep.


Hello Phil,

Well they did offer me a very good hourly rate for this job.



If the translation was really done in 5 days (and that's a big if), then they should know that the proofreading will take half that time again. 2 days would be an extraordinary rush. 2.5 days would only be a mad rush.



I was approached to do the translation. The client wanted me to assure 5000 words per day, but I said I couldn't do more than 3500 words. He ended up asking someone else to do it. I guess the other translator was able to produce 5000+ words, or maybe he hired more than one person.

It's really worth having a conversation with the client about what they want. If they want it done well, they need to know that that takes time. If they aren't that fussed about quality, and just really need to hit their deadline, well, that's OK too, but you have to decide if you want to do that work. Personally, I say no when clients are that rushed, unless they beg me and pay lots!


We have been exchanging emails back and forth all evening, but after I sent my estimation of about 25 hours I haven't heard back. I guess he probably hopes to find someone who can do the job in much less time than that.

Situations like these always makes me so uneasy; I want to help my client, and I would appreciate the pay, but at the same time I do not want to provide a crappy result.....

If you approach the conversation in the right way, clients will listen. Don't say, "It's too much to do." Do say, "Let me talk to you about how to get the best results in the time we've got."

Also, you have to talk to them about the pdf thing. You can't edit like that.


I'm not sure why they want their revision to be done this way.... My guess is that even though I explained the difference between proofreading and editing, they still have proofreading in mind?

I appreciate your input a lot, thank you so much.


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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:03
English to Indonesian
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Go for it Sep 11, 2013

NinonD wrote:
My guess is that even though I explained the difference between proofreading and editing, they still have proofreading in mind?

I wish you hadn't done that. The explaining, I mean. If my take on it is correct, the agency knows very well what they are doing.
The document has been translated, edited (against the source language), proofed (target language only), and they now honour you to do the final editing. And pay well for it.

I wish all agencies were as knowledgeable as the one that you now try to teach their business.

Cheers,

Hans


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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:03
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Drukklaar Sep 11, 2013

I was looking for the word for what I think you are supposed to do, and thought of "drukklaar" in Dutch, which wasn't in my ENG-DUT standard dictionary. And it still isn't there, because the Dutch word is "persklaar":

prepare something for the press, subedit something
(informeel) sub something, proofread something
(typografisch) style something


This explains the PDF format. Unless you prefer to do the final editing in InDesign or other horrors.

Cheers,

Hans


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Ninon Dion  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:03
Member (2013)
English to French
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How to give a quote then Sep 11, 2013

I was asked how long it would take me to proofread a manual and what would my suggested quote be, without seeing the document first (I received it after). In order to give him the right quote and turnaround time, I needed to know the extent of the work needed.

My goal wasn't to "educate" the client, but to get informations to base my quote and TAT on. As a matter of fact when asked to precise which service he needed, he changed his mind and asked for editing.

I guess it would have been best if I had all the details right from the start, but it wasn't the case so I had to fish for information. It is possible that I end up losing this project, and that is sad, but it is hard to respond to those questions about rates and TAT when you have nothing to base your reply on.

[Edited at 2013-09-11 04:35 GMT]


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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:03
English to Indonesian
+ ...
A modest percentage Sep 11, 2013

NinonD wrote:
You make a lot of assumptions regarding the actual state of the revision process of this particular document.

Yes, but I'm almost 100% sure I'm right. Other assumptions don't make sense. You blew it.

Cheers,

Hans


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Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:03
Member (2012)
Russian to English
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You did the right thing Sep 11, 2013

Ninon, I think you did the right thing. Of course you should see the document in full and know all the information about the project. As translators, the more information we know about the project the easier it is to provide a quote.

I would be concerned about the time frame involved. 40,000 words is a lot to proofread in 2 days.


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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:03
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Quote Sep 11, 2013

NinonD wrote: How to give a quote then

I think you can do around 3,000 words/h. I'd quote 12-15 hours for the job. Two days. Two days of hard work. You see that that is pretty much in line with what the agency wants to hear?

I'm not making this up. I've been there. I was there in the good ol' days you made those corrections on paper, using different codes for different kinds of mistakes. Coded instructions for the printer. And nowadays, with PDFs and stickies.

The main thing is that you don't make changes, and if you really, really have to, have a look what those changes imply for the lay-out. At this stage of the whole process, that's the main thing. So you can probably change "typo's" into "typos" without the whole manual having to be repaginated, but you don't have to worry about terminology, and you shouldn't ask yourself "This is not wrong, but I can make it better." Don't. Don't make changes.

And whether you'll get the job or not, you should indeed be "honoured" they asked you, because this is typically a job for old hands, experts.

Cheers,

Hans (expert)


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Ninon Dion  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:03
Member (2013)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Confusing timeframe Sep 11, 2013

Sarah McDowell wrote:

Ninon, I think you did the right thing. Of course you should see the document in full and know all the information about the project. As translators, the more information we know about the project the easier it is to provide a quote.

I would be concerned about the time frame involved. 40,000 words is a lot to proofread in 2 days.


Hi Sarah,

That timeframe was, and still is what is confusing me the most in this situation. I still do not understand how they could expect me to edit that large of a document in such a short amount of time. I guess I misunderstood their needs? There has to be something I just didn't get.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.


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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:03
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I think you did the right thing too Sep 11, 2013

There's no way just one person did a 40,000 word translation in just 5 days and if they did, they could not possibly have done a good job.

I'm pretty sure that two people would have worked on this because personally, I would struggle slightly to do 40,000 words in 10 days and I work quite quickly.

This means that the agency's expectations of you were probably based on your being more than one person, which you're not.

I don't think it's safe to make any assumptions on the process that has occurred before the work got to you because there's no way you can know unless you ask and assumptions can be very dangerous. I don't know how anyone can possibly be 100% sure of whether or not the document has been proofread without asking the client. The mind boggles.

I believe in managing your client's expectations. This avoids lots of problems down the line.

If the client doesn't get back to you, just let it go. Unless you're "translator by day, superhero by night", there's not much worse than taking something on only to discover that you can't manage.


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