Determining rates for editing
Thread poster: gbrown
gbrown
United States
Local time: 06:17
Japanese to English
+ ...
Jul 13

Hello,

I'm a fairly new translator, and am in the process of getting on the Japanese/Korean to English freelancer list for a certain company. They've accepted my proposed rate of 6 cents (USD) per character in the source text. However, they're wondering about my rate for editing, as well. I haven't technically done editing before, but I figured I should give them a rate comparable to my proposed 6 cents per character. Does anyone have a good way to determine an appropriate rate based off of this?

Thank you.


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:17
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Per hour Jul 13

gbrown wrote:

Hello,

I'm a fairly new translator, and am in the process of getting on the Japanese/Korean to English freelancer list for a certain company. They've accepted my proposed rate of 6 cents (USD) per character in the source text. However, they're wondering about my rate for editing, as well. I haven't technically done editing before, but I figured I should give them a rate comparable to my proposed 6 cents per character. Does anyone have a good way to determine an appropriate rate based off of this?

Thank you.


Charge them by the hour. In many/most cases editing is no more then rewriting/retranslating somebody elses mess, or in the worst case a MT translation. Takes you a lot of time.

[Edited at 2017-07-13 21:05 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:17
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Definitely by the hour Jul 13

Whatever you do, DON'T accept some piffling rate per word and a mysterious QA scheme to fill in for free. It is not possible to speed-read when you are editing and reviewing, and the 'analyses' of how serious the errors are, grammar, style, meaning and what have you can be a pain. I think they are largely a waste of time, but some agencies are very keen on them. Make sure you are paid if you work with them.

You have to keep switching from source to target, so you need time to check the text. You cannot read much more than around 1000 European source words an hour in practice, if you actually have to make any corrections as well. If the translation is anything less than reasonable quality, the time it takes to sort it out increases exponentially.

If you are asked to estimate in advance how much you will charge, always estimate more time than you really expect to spend. Then you can give a small discount when you invoice if you really do take less time. One excellent piece of advice I saw on this site some years ago was to expect to charge about a third of your rate for translating, and the lady who gave that advice was a stickler for quality. She would not touch anything that was not basically good enough.

It is very difficult to make a good translation out of a mess. It takes longer than you expect to read each sentence, consider whether it is good enough, and rewrite the ones that are not. If you find yourself rewriting whole sections, stop, tell the client, and offer to translate it again from scratch.

That said, someone has to do the editing, and when I was starting out, I learnt a lot from proofreading (as it was then) for experienced colleagues and non-natives who really wrote good English. It can be a pleasure, so I hope you are offered jobs like that.

Best of luck!


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
My experience... Jul 13

... is that customers prefer a fixed rate for the job before you start work, not an open-ended hourly rate. I ask to see the translation, work out roughly how long it will take to edit, and then just give them a lump-sum figure.

Six cents sounds very low for Japanese and Korean, but maybe you'll be able to push up your rates as time goes on. Good luck!

[Edited at 2017-07-13 20:51 GMT]


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:17
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
My experience.... Jul 13

philgoddard wrote:

... is that customers prefer a fixed rate for the job before you start work, not an open-ended hourly rate. I ask to see the translation, work out roughly how long it will take to edit, and then just give them a lump-sum figure.

Six cents sounds very low for Japanese and Korean, but maybe you'll be able to push up your rates as time goes on. Good luck!

[Edited at 2017-07-13 20:51 GMT]


Agree, only there are pitfalls you only discover when working on the job, especially with editing. Hence my charge by the hour.

[Edited at 2017-07-13 23:27 GMT]


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 21:17
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
30-50% Jul 13

The proofreading/reviewing/editing rate I offer to new clients is 40% that of my standard translation rate. In your case, I think $0.03/source word sounds about right. My translation rate has seen more upward movement than my editing rate, simply because each cent represents a greater percentage of the editing rate.

As far as the difference between proofreading/reviewing/editing, I'm tired of figuring out which one the client wants, so I just assume they want the expensive one. Works every time when you're a salesman. You're going to make some easy money and you're going to run into some time-consuming, god-awful translations. It all evens out in the end, unless you keep getting terrible translations your way, in which case you should deal with the cause directly.


[Edited at 2017-07-13 22:39 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:17
Member
English to French
Evening out Jul 14

For the sake of advocating an hourly rate:

Lincoln Hui wrote:
... You're going to make some easy money and you're going to run into some time-consuming, god-awful translations...

For me, the MAJOR issue with this stance is that in effect, you subsidise translation companies that are not able to find a proper translator/pay for a proper translation in the first place, while penalising decent translation companies that screen skilled translators and pay them proper rates to deliver a proper translation.

Do we want that?
Final, customer-consumed translation quality being equal, I'd rather see bad translations coming out more expensive after editing than good translations coming out more expensive after editing.
As they say, "getting it right first time" should cost less.

At the end of the day, a blanket per-word rate instead of an hourly rate for editing benefits bad translators. At the expense of better ones.

Philippe


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Make education a selling point Jul 14

Philippe Etienne wrote:
As they say, "getting it right first time" should cost less.

At the end of the day, a blanket per-word rate instead of an hourly rate for editing benefits bad translators. At the expense of better ones.

I work a lot directly with EFL authors and translators and I use my charging system as a selling point. Because I charge honestly per quarter-hour of my time, it follows that the better the quality of their texts, the less they will pay. So it pays them to not simply accept/reject my changes but to think a bit about them and how to use them to improve future texts. To help with the process, I do tend to leave a few more comments than some proofreaders/copy-editors who don't have a background as an EFL trainer.

@ Philippe: I'm disappointed now. I thought we were about to hear all about the great time you had last night .


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:17
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
You can estimate an hourly rate and quote in advance Jul 14

Philippe Etienne wrote:
....
Final, customer-consumed translation quality being equal, I'd rather see bad translations coming out more expensive after editing than good translations coming out more expensive after editing.
As they say, "getting it right first time" should cost less.

At the end of the day, a blanket per-word rate instead of an hourly rate for editing benefits bad translators. At the expense of better ones.

Philippe


Absolutely agree. I tell the client that I charge by the hour. This alerts them to the idea that a good translation will take less time to review and cost less.

I then try to apply some general principles - I check quickly through the text before quoting. Check at several points - translators may start well, then run out of time and make a mess of the second half of the job!

While I can only give my principles for Scandinavian languages and English, you can work out an approximate number of source words that you can read in an hour, and it is often much lower in practice than agencies say. I reckon on no more than 1000 to 1500 source words in my languages! So look at the length of the text and calculate from there.

Also check the quality - look for the obvious pitfalls and see if the text reads well, or whether it will need a thorough overhaul style-wise. If you are asked to look at terminology, take that into consideration and allow at least 15 minutes per term checked! (NEVER take responsibility for terminology in a field you are not thoroughly familiar with.)
Allow extra time accordingly.

When you have worked out how long you think you will need, add 20-25%. I often find I need it...
Quote for the result after that, and tell the client you will give a reduction if you take less time. Do so, and make a point of giving at least a symbolic reduction, unless you actually spend a lot more time than you expected. Never charge more than your estimate. Clients will then respect your honesty and trust you another time.

In this way you frighten off the totally unrealistic agencies who claim you can review a text as fast as you can speed-read it. Forget them - you cannot make a living working for them anyway.
You educate the others, and you get paid a realistic rate for the work you do.


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