Rates for book translation
Thread poster: Patricia Will

Patricia Will  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:49
Member (2004)
German to English
Dec 16, 2009

Hi all, a colleague has been offered the chance to translate a scientific book (text book) of around 100,000 words and has asked me for advice on average rates in Australia for this kind of work. I have no idea, as I have never done this kind of translation. Do any of you have experience of working for publishers and/or author and could give some guidance?
Thanks and regards
Trish Will

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Salman Rostami  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:19
Member (2009)
English to Persian (Farsi)
+ ...
some info. Dec 16, 2009

Dear Patricia,

I have translated 3 textbooks which are published in Iran. I know the rates are totally different in Iran and Australia but I think one thing is in common. If your name is going to be printed on the book, the rate will be certainly less than the rate you will receive for your partial participation wile your name won't be printed on the book! For example, I receive 0.08 USD per word for my routine assignments while I received 0.04 USD for the above mentioned books!

Hope it can help you.

[Edited at 2009-12-16 06:16 GMT]

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xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
Dutch to English
As much as he can get Dec 16, 2009

I have translated technical books and been paid my full rate plus the extra fee for technical matter. In my case, that's € 0,13 base per-word rate + € 0,03 per word technical surcharge. I do offer a discount for large assignments (up to 20%), so the actual average rate was less than this. For your colleague's project, my average rate would work out to € 0,139 per word.

That said, I have another client, a struggling artist type, who pays me much, much less than this. Agencies generally pay me my regular rates (including applicable discounts), but recently I was approached to translate a nontechnical book for € 0,10 per word.

My name is on every book I've ever translated, and I've never bargained away price for it (though this may be different for literary works with potential for royalty income; certainly the per-word rates are different there). I wouldn't expect it to be a bargaining chip in textbook translation, as there is very little chance of a bestseller.

Repeat clients usually don't haggle with me over price, because they know from experience that the quality of my work is very high and that I will go the extra mile for them, explaining things and brainstorming with them to produce an excellent final result. If the textbook author is a perfectionist and has some say in choosing the translator, he will almost certainly choose pricier quality over cheaper garbage.

Assuming your friend is also a perfectionist and very good at what he does, I'd advise him to start his bargaining at his regular prices, including a technical surcharge, and figure out ahead of time the minimum he will accept and still be glad he took the assignment.

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