Peculiar case! Salary for proof-reading/ contributing to Norwegian book collaboration
Thread poster: Danielmf

Danielmf
United Kingdom
Aug 26, 2014

Hi,

I'm new to these forums, although I have been interested in Spanish --> English translation for a while (it was a part of my degree.)

I was recently on a summer school at a Norwegian university. I met a professor there who helped organise the course and he has asked me to help edit and perhaps even contribute towards the conclusion of a book he is currently working on in collaboration with some other professors from across Europe. I am of course very pleased with this and have already begun to help.

I wondered if anybody could advise me or point me on one point though. The professor has asked me to suggest the salary I should receive. I have said that I have never done this kind of work before, but he still did not propose any starting point and wants me to suggest a figure to work from. I thought this would be a good place to ask for advice on this. This isn’t going to be a translation, I will be proof-reading the chapters and making suggestions (both on the linguistic structure and substantive content) of the book. Some of the chapters are written by native English speakers and some are not, meaning the amount of time likely to be needed to edit each chapter will vary.

Although the book's structure is not totally finalised, he thinks there will be 10 chapters. They seem to be around 7-8,000 words each (he sent me a few preliminary ones) and he has suggested that it would take me "6-7 hours, or more” to go through each chapter. I was also just thinking that the fact that it is a Norwegian university (they have some of the highest wages in the world) may affect what I should ask for…

I don’t want to ask for too much, since just being accredited with having contributed towards the book will help me a lot in future (I hope.) If anybody does have any advice on this I would appreciate it very much!


Summary: Assisting with language and substance of a political book with around 10 chapters (7-9,000 words per chapter) which the professor said should take me "6-7 hours or more" per chapter. The university and professor is based in Norway. I need to suggest a salary for my work from which we can negotiate. I have no idea what to suggest. Please help!


 

cranium
French to English
+ ...
Why don't you want to "ask too much"? Aug 26, 2014

I don’t want to ask for too much, since just being accredited with having contributed towards the book will help me a lot in future (I hope.)


The job is worth what it's worth. This is specialist material and the professor thinks you are capable or would not have asked. Why not contact a Norwegian association of editors and ask about fees and legal concerns? PS I estimate about 1,000 words per hour rereading my own work, so it will probably be slower if you are correcting a text written by non-native speakers.


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:39
German to English
+ ...
Don't tug your forelock; don't devalue the profession Aug 26, 2014

I suggest you have a look round the website of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, starting with the page on suggested hourly rates:
http://www.sfep.org.uk/pub/mship/minimum_rates.asp

Danielmf wrote:

I don’t want to ask for too much, since just being accredited with having contributed towards the book will help me a lot in future (I hope.)


If you're going to be doing work of a professional standard, you should charge a professional rate. If you settle for a few crumbs, that sends a message to the recipient about what your work is worth.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:39
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Salary? Aug 26, 2014

Let's get the terminology sorted first. Is this person going to give you an employment contract, paid sick leave and holidays etc? If not, you won't be an employee and won't have a salary. I imagine you're going to send an invoice, or better, staged invoices, for this work that you'll declare as self-employed income. So you're enquiring about your rate per hour/word and/or the total fee for your services. I don't mean to sound pedantic but there's a whole different mindset that goes with being a self-employed B2B service provider.

I strongly advise you to work on a couple of sections of the text. Either take a set length of extracts from native and non-native authors and time your work, or work for a set period of time and count the words processed. Either way, you''ll discover roughly how long the job will take you. You'll also have something to submit to the client for feedback. Best to settle on details of the finer requirements of the job really early on.

Then all you have to do is find out what a UK-based freelance editor charges, and that's available from SfEP, among others. I think your base is more relevant than your client's: you're subject to UK cost of living. Don't even look at salaries as they're based on a totally different situation.


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:39
English
+ ...
Yes, you can count on it taking more time than you imagine. Aug 26, 2014

SBlack wrote:

.... so it will probably be slower if you are correcting a text written by non-native speakers.


Do not underestimate the time it will take you to "proofread" a text written by a non-native speaker. Actually what you will most likely be doing is editing and re-writing.

As I explain on my profile page, proofreading is making sure there are no errors in the final version of an already edited text. Proofreading does not require rewriting, whereas editing usually does.

It sounds to me as if you will be dealing with texts that require first editing and then proofreading...

[Edited at 2014-08-26 10:31 GMT]


 

Danielmf
United Kingdom
TOPIC STARTER
Thank-you for your comments Aug 26, 2014

Salary was not the most appropriate word of course as it won't be a regular payment- the professor used the word honorarium, which I should have used originally. It apparently means "a payment given for professional services that are rendered nominally without charge."

The professor suggested 6-7 hours per chapter "or maybe more", so I just went by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (UK) suggested rates, which are £25 per hour. I calculated on the basis of 8 hours to be safe and it comes to £2,000. I could calculate based on 9 hours but I don't want to push it.

I should point out that the salary is of secondary importance to me. The fact my name will appear in the book and that I might even be able to contribute towards the conclusion on an academic book written by professors from around Europe is the most valuable prospect. I've just graduated from my BA and will be taking a year out overseas working just around 10 hours per week teaching. I will also be doing some studies simultaneously, but I should have quite a lot of free time in any case. My aim is to go on to secure good funding for an MA, so I feel being able to say that I contributed towards this book would help me in my personal goals.

If my number one reason for doing this was money, of course I wouldn't say things like "I don't want to push it" and would try to maximise my pay. Naturally, I don't want to ask for an amount that appears too small to him, but I'm also worried about asking for too much!


[Edited at 2014-08-26 21:19 GMT]


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:39
Chinese to English
Don't be scared of talking money Aug 26, 2014

It's a British thing: we all hate talking about money. But sometimes you have to do it, and so you just grit your teeth and say the words.

Firstly, remember that your prof has been slightly discourteous by putting this on you. A truly thoughtful collaborator would recognise that you're inexperienced, and would give you a suggestion. So don't worry about appearing rude - this prof has already done that!

Actually, the reason he has not suggested a figure is probably because he doesn't know and doesn't care what the figure should be - it's not his department. So don't bother your head about it, when he's clearly not bothering his.

Secondly, remember that nothing is ever set in stone. I guarantee you that this will not happen: you propose a figure which is too high; the prof doesn't want to be rude, so he pays it; but he resents you and decides to ruin your young career! That sort of stuff is just a fantasy. It's not the prof paying you, it's the university/publisher. If your figure is too high, they have an accountant who will tell you so. And then you say, sorry, fine, let's go with your figure.

It's always nice to give yourself a back-out clause, so just pick a figure, and put in your email: I saw online that the rates for this work are usually X, so I propose X times Y hours = Z. That way if they don't want to pay you that much, you can back away gracefully from the figure, and no-one loses any face.


 
Check wth the Norwegian university Aug 26, 2014

Most universities, especially in wealthy, non-English-speaking countries commission this type work all the time. I have done it, and the universities have their own pay scales. You should contact either HR or the office in-charge of scientific publications at THAT university. There might also be related paper work, etc. Some profs aren't good on the administrative side of things, so do your homework.

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:39
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Test it first Aug 26, 2014

Danielmf wrote:

The professor suggested 6-7 hours per chapter "or maybe more", so I just went by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (UK) suggested rates, which are £25 per hour. I calculated on the basis of 8 hours to be safe and it comes to £2,000. I could calculate based on 9 hours but I don't want to push it.


And if, for whatever reason, you need 10+ hours for one or perhaps even for all of the chapters?

It is always better to estimate more hours (being realistic, of course) at the time of quoting than to be working an X-number of hours for free.

Being fair and honest, you can include in your quote that, in case you need less time for the entire reviewing process (not only editing, but also proof-reading!), you will clearly state this on your invoices, and deduct any fee for the time not worked on the project from the total amount due.

Danielmf wrote:
I should point out that the salary is of secondary importance to me. The fact my name will appear in the book and that I might even be able to contribute towards the conclusion on an academic book written by professors from around Europe is the most valuable prospect. I've just graduated from my BA and will be taking a year out overseas working just around 10 hours per week teaching. I will also be doing some studies simultaneously, but I should have quite a lot of free time in any case. My aim is to go on to secure good funding for an MA, so I feel being able to say that I contributed towards this book would help me in my personal goals.


Such a contribution can help you to accomplish your goal. However, it might be wise for you to stop focusing on your just recent graduation. This might, in fact, only be a reason why the hours you will need to accomplish the book revision could increase due to the lack of hands-on practice and experience.

You did get your BA, so use it by asking for a rate that reflects the work at hand.icon_wink.gif

Danielmf wrote:
Naturally, I don't want to ask for an amount that appears too small to him, but I'm also worried about asking for too much!


The amount you are about to ask for should be the amount at which you value your own work, and should not be based on what the professor might consider a too high or too low amount.

Much success!


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:39
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Your GBP 25 per hour is certainly not too much Aug 26, 2014

I charge a rate at roughly that level or higher in Danish kroner to Scandinavian clients, and that is for work that goes through an agency, not direct to the client.

Charge for a realistic number of hours, varying as necessary according to the quality of the text.

The universities are more interested in quality than low cost. If the research papers I proofread are not accepted for publication, that is a far more serious problem than whether they pay me a couple of hundred kroner more or less. OK, you should not rip them off, but as others have said, deliver a professional job and charge at a professional rate.

Business is supposed to be to everyone's advantage, and prestige is just what academic publishing is all about... They want their text to look good, and although many Norwegians are good at English, you may have to work quite hard to get some chapters up to standard!

Best of luck!


 

Danielmf
United Kingdom
TOPIC STARTER
Thank-you! Aug 26, 2014

Thank-you everybody for all your advice. It has been very helpful. I think I will suggest charging per hour, and I will assume that each chapter will take me 10 hours, and I will suggest that if it takes me less time I can reduce the amount appropriately as somebody previously suggested.

To be honest, if it takes me even a bit longer that 10 hours in the end I would be completely fine with that, since it would be mainly down to my own inexperience. The hourly rate should be based on socially necessary labour time- so that people who are simply slow (as I might now be) don't get overcompensated for bringing no real additional value as compared to a more experienced and consequently faster person. As I said, each chapter is 7-8,000 words so it should not really take me that long (I think.)



[Edited at 2014-08-27 23:26 GMT]


 

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:39
German to English
Have a contract Aug 27, 2014

Things that start off on the basis of a friendly arrangement can turn sour if things don't go to plan or if one party is unhappy, perhaps on account of something that wasn't thought of in advance. Don't be shy of being utterly professional about what is involved and getting things set out in a contract. What will happen if they come back with a re-written or heavily amended version of a chapter you have already proof-read? What will happen if they do that time and again? What is your liability if typos are discovered after the book has gone to press? What if the authors don't reply to requests to clarify certain points? It is best to make sure that everything is set out very clearly - and if it is important to you to be mentioned in the credits, that should be in the contract too.

 

Paul Skidmore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:39
German to English
Academic editing can be hard work Aug 27, 2014

Hi Daniel,

I just want to emphasise what others have said. Editing academic papers written by non-native speakers can be extremely hard work.

I recently completed a project involving authors with many different first languages all writing in English. The amount of work varied considerably. Sometimes I was close to ghostwriting the paper. In other cases, there was much less to do.

This is just the language aspect. Dealing with authors who haven't followed the template or style guide for the publication can also be time consuming.

That said, it can also be very interesting work.

If you are a subject specialist, GBP 25 per hour sounds a bit on the low side.

Good luck (and if you are an independent language professional please remember refer to editing and revision fees (not salary))

Paul


 


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