What Should Translators Get Paid for Their Work?

piggy-bank-hi copy“How much should I expect to get paid?” is one of the questions I’m most frequently asked by emerging translators, and it’s hard to know what to answer. In my experience, payments for translations vary enormously depending on the publisher, the type of project and the reputation of the translator. Add to that the fact that no one likes to talk about what they get paid for anything they do (not just translations), and it can be hard to get one’s bearings. Well, I’m pleased to report that the Three Percent Podcast series has just put out a conversation on the topic featuring 3%’s usual suspects Chad Post (publisher of Open Letter Books) and Tom Roberge (Deputy Director of Albertine Books), joined by Alex Zucker, Co-Chair of the PEN Translation Committee. This is the most frank and complete discussion of rates I have ever seen in print, so I strongly recommend you check it out. Among other things, you will learn the difference between translators and dockworkers, and between translations and refrigerators. Oh, and in case you were wondering, pretty much no one is getting rich in the translated literature business.

This conversation originated as a podcast on the Three Percent Blog, and now a transcript has been published on the PEN American Center website, so if you’d rather read than listen, you can do so here.

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  1. Mor says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    I just came across this blog when researching about submission letters.
    Could you share some thoughts and information about how to write a submission letter a poetry translation or prose translation? I am in the first semester of a translation certificate and would appreciate any feedback.

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