Quality Matters: How Much Does a Book Translation in Chinese Cost?


In this blog post, I will share our experience from one of our book translation projects and how much it costs the client. Here’s a question for you.

How can you ensure you will get a high-quality translation back before getting started?

Get a taste? That’s right!

A test translation would be a wise choice. And you will need a trusted source to assess the quality for you if you do not understand Chinese. Our client does have a trusted contact in China, and he was wise enough to order test translation before making a final decision.

READ MORE >>> 3 Questions to Ask Before Saying Yes to that Chinese Translation Project

How much does a book translation cost?

Here’s the problem: No good match!

Before the client made a decision, he requested a test translation from a handful of translation agencies in Shanghai. He could not get a good match to his needs: for low price bids, the test translation quality was so bad that it will surely ruin the book; for acceptable translation quality, the price bids were too high for their budget.

Luckily, we have a healthy relationship with Israeli consul in Shanghai and they referred us to the client.

After we communicated with the client, we learned that he needed a book translation service in Chinese and he will publish it in China for educational purpose; thus the translation quality should be excellent.

AZ-Loc provides a language solution for literature translation

To test if we could match client’s need concerning quality, we invited translators who are familiar with Jewish culture to perform test translation. We offered 4 copies of test translations for the first chapter: 2 copies were done by class A translators, the other 2 were done by our class B translators.

The client was delighted by the quality of those 2 copies via class A translations.

We were qualified as the final translator, but we needed to agree on the budget as well.

After reviewing the costs, we decided to give a volume discount and lower our project management fee from 30% to 10% to match their budget.

The client sent us a confirmation on Sunday afternoon.

However, by the time of confirmation, client’s first choice, Mr. Eric Chen was on another translation thus not available. Mr. David Wang was chosen for the translation, but we managed to persuade Eric to proofread it before sending for client’s review.

Why are CAT tools not a good fit here?

For books, novels, and other creative copies, CAT tools are losing their value, for many reasons.

Almost no repetition – it requires manual translation
Less literal translation – there are no strict rules that can be tracked with translation memory.
Sequence adjustments to sentences and paragraphs are allowed to ensure natural flow and full understanding of the Chinese audience.
Also for the sake of style consistency, it’s not recommended to split the work between multiple translators.

Ideally 1 translator, or maximum 2 translators, who need to be very familiar with each other and consistent with each and own writing style.

Status report and feedback with client

We sent partial book translation to the client every week for a status report and also for clarifications on translation-related questions and answers.

Client’s side contact in China helped review our translation and provided invaluable feedback to improve the final translation.

We always go extra miles on translations and other services. After translation, we adjusted the translation typesetting for free, as well as illustration translation.

There were maps and illustrations in the book, which were not calculated in translation work. Those were non-editable images, making them difficult to add the translation. Our DTP specialist helped create text boxes and added Chinese captions on them and made sure they look identical and natural as the original copy.

How much does a book translation in Chinese cost?

We completed the 400 pages book translation in 53 days (40 working days), at a total cost of USD 4,185, with the help of 1 translator (class A), 1 proofreader (class A), 1 dedicated project manager, and 1 DTP specialist.

The client was delighted with our translation and added our translator’s name in the book. This is another milestone for us!

Book details: The Fight for Jerusalem, the book was written by Professor Dore Gold, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City (ISBN 0786147849 / Publisher: Regnery, Blackstone Audiobooks / Date: Jan 2007) This is a 400-page book.

We have seen good clients and bad ones as well. As we are constrained by resources, we will only serve those deserve our attention and time. We will only focus on clients who would like to take their business to the next level.

If you’re serious enough to take this to the next level, we’d love to offer you a 25% off on your first project. Rest assured that you will get premium service with more discounts like volume discount and lower project management costs.

Why Not Give Us a Try?

We save your time.

We save your money.

We make your life easier.