I've read that writers and editors are often paid on a per-word basis. Then I did a search about the cost of translating a literary work into a different language and I've found varying information. For example in this thread on proz.com mentions a price model on a per-word basis, a price model on a per-page basis, per-chapter, flatrate-per-book basis and here on Quora someone mentions a per-source-character basis.

I'd think that different price models mean different prices in the end. Therefore I would like to know more about the way I should estimates the costs for translating a literary work from one language into another.

Answers should therefore include information about typical price models and how they affect the calculation as well as typical price ranges I can expect.

As there are probably differences between languages answers that take German as the "source" language into account will be rated higher than answers that are based on other languages. English as the "destination" language will be rated higher than other languages. Sources that allow me to look up multiple translation variations (for example not only German to English, but also German to Japanese) would be the most valuable. The type of literary work to be translated should be a fantasy novel, but information about other types of literary work are also valuable.

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    Target language is a significant factor: there are significant differences between countries in average wages, minimal wages, cost of living, and therefore what a person can expect to be paid. Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


Book translations are rarely paid per word. Usually, they charge per page, per chapter or at a flat rate the entire translation.

It depends on various factors like time required for translation. Whether client is a regular one or not. Next of course target language, The resulting factors defines hourly or flat rates.

I'm attaching a link here. By reading the details you'll get an idea about basic translation pricing based on per hour, per character, per word or per page.


According to given link

If source and destination language are german to english Let's assume novel has 200 manuscript pages and in general word counts for a page are 250-300
Total word counts = word counts per page * total pages = 300*200

Average cost = Total word counts * $0.16

But if source is german and destination is other language like Japanese or Czech then pricing will be double because they have to translate your novel first from german to english then english to japanese because two different translators will work on it If you found a german who knows japanese and can translate directly in japanese then cost will reduce. It can be $0.16- $0.19 per word


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