From the client’s point of view, asking for a reduced rate on the basis of a large volume of work (several weeks’ worth) may seem like a fair request. But for the translator, quantity is not everything.
An agency once contacted me for a three-week project with a small budget. My answer could be summed up in two letters. The project manager insisted: “But it’s quantity! Three weeks is a lot of work!”. Again, my reply was simple: I am pretty busy and can get three weeks’ worth of work at my usual rate. There was no incentive for me to accept this assignment: the topic was uninspiring (governmental admin), the deadline was only just enough to do the work and the pay was low. As she sounded a little desperate on the phone, it was clear that she was aware that the request was unreasonable and that she would struggle to find a willing professional.
A large project has its drawbacks. It implies a lack of availability for other clients, whether regular or exciting new ones (who may never come back) – just what any freelancer dreads. The risk has to be limited and worthwhile. If your deadline is tight, not only you cannot hope for any concession but some translators may prefer not to take the project on at all rather than work under time pressure over several weeks and sacrifice other opportunities. It is best to give a deadline that is generous enough to allow for other smaller jobs to be squeezed in here and there. Such welcomed breaks will help with the translator’s concentration and the quality of their work too.
The quality of the original text matters also. There is nothing appealing in having to spend weeks on a tedious text. At the beginning of the year, I translated a large project that looked very interesting, but the poor writing wasn’t quite as inviting. The work wasn’t that enjoyable and took longer than it needed to. A well written text is more likely to influence a translator towards reviewing their rate a little or help in other ways.
Deadline and quality are key: the easier you make it for your translator, the better the chance we may agree to some concession.