What's Your Favorite Project Length?

We've talked about this interesting issue with colleagues, and now we'd love to know what your favorite project length is, in either word count, page count, line count, or general duration. Usually, we really like  5,000 to 7,000 word projects, even though the very large 100,000 + word translations have also been challenging and exciting. The upside with the extensive projects is that the research we do "lasts" for a long time, while with shorter projects, new research is necessary each time. However, the quicker projects seem to drain us less mentally, and it's nice to get them off our desks, issue the invoice, and get paid. We also like the diversity of working on several smaller projects at the same time. We've found that working exclusively on one big project for several months makes us long for variation. 

At the moment, we are working from Santiago, Chile, where we will be the entire month of April. We have eight projects in the queue, and they are all relatively short (between 500 and 4,000 words), with the exception of a 60-page monster, on which we've been working for weeks. All are due this week or the beginning of next week, and we are making good progress. This feels like a good work load to us (and yes, we are trying to fit in a trip to see the Andes up close and personal).


What about you? Do you rejoice when your client assigns a 50,000 word translation or does that make you cringe? How long, ideally, would you work on a translation before moving on to the next one? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section. Now, back to our multiple projects!


11 comments:

Joosje van Loen on April 5, 2011 at 11:33 AM said...

If I come to think about it, I like 5 000 - 30 000 words in the mornings when I'm feeling fresh as a rose, and a couple of little ones (10 - 500) in the afternoons when concentration is less required. For me the finest thing about our job is the variety (and the ability to work everywhere, I envy you!). Enjoy your time in Chile.

Michael on April 5, 2011 at 12:25 PM said...

I’d say around 5,000 words. If it’s shorter, the time investment in research often doesn’t compute. If it is longer, I have to say no to too many other clients and, as I found out over the years, certain subjects tend to get boring quickly. When I have to wade through long documents full of meaningless marketing speak or ridiculous sports metaphors, I often decide that I will never accept long source documents again. But here I am, still translating long projects from time to time.

Tess Whitty on April 5, 2011 at 1:23 PM said...

For me it is 5000-10,000 words that seem to be a perfect fit. I can finish in a week, keep my mind focused and then move on. The small projects seem to just clutter my brain and schedule, but are usually a necessary evil sometimes. I also like really huge projects with a very long or flexible deadline, that I can work on in between other projects, such as the management book I was translating last year. Interesting post. I have been pondering this question a lot too and it will be interesting to see what other people think. Have a great time in Chile!

bonnjill on April 5, 2011 at 7:30 PM said...

I agree with the others. About 5,000 to 10,000 words is my ideal. I love the variety our job offers, so several several thousand word jobs a week is ideal.

Karen Tkaczyk on April 5, 2011 at 8:31 PM said...

I like my projects long. 25K words is optimum. When short (under 5000 words) they are here and away before I have time to enjoy them. Above 25K and they can become unmanageable if I get behind. I often refuse small jobs. I rarely refuse large ones.

Witold Chocholski on April 6, 2011 at 4:40 AM said...

Perfect fit for me: 10,000–20,000 words. I can plan my schedule to complete this one and also some others; time spent on research and paperwork is relatively short (unlike in short projects), the volume does not engage me for a very long time and long enough to stay focused which results in relatively quick turnaround.

Shadab on April 6, 2011 at 5:58 AM said...

ah..i think you have asked this at very right time. I have been doing some small project happily till now from start of this new year, but recently i have got two huge project with tight deadline. I am facing problem completing these projects. So the context is better to work on small projects rather putting yourself into trouble.

Kevin Lossner on April 6, 2011 at 8:54 AM said...

I'd say my preference is for small jobs which can be knocked off in about 4 to 8 hours of concentrated work. I would include with that jobs of any larger size with logical subunits (chapters) requiring no more than the same length of time. I like the sense of completion that comes at the end of each chapter, even though I may revisit it many times as I revise terminology, etc. Research isn't much of an issue here, as I tend to work in areas familiar to me or for clients where the basic terms and concepts were agreed upon some time ago. Where serious research is required I prefer something upwards of 20,000 words so I can sell some value-added terminology services with greater ease.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 10, 2011 at 2:08 PM said...

@everyone: Thanks for the comments and for sharing your thoughts. It's always fascinating to hear what our colleagues think.

@Karen: that's right, you really do love big projects! And you are so quick, too!

Magento Themes on April 26, 2011 at 12:08 AM said...

I love big projects!!because small projects will take more time than big projects.In big projects we'll work with a fresh mind in morning up to 5,000 words and after that our interest will be less.It depends upon our energy,interest..thanks for this interesting blog.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, my favorite jobs are books (fiction). They're often 150,000 to 200,000 words, which allows me to move along at a nice pace for however many months the project takes. This maximizes my income since my target is to do about 2,000 words a day, and with a book I'm guaranteed to have 2,000 words lined up for any given day, so I don't need to spend time sifting through offers, haggling over prices and deadlines, issuing scads of little invoices, etc. My time is just spent translating. And if my kid is home sick from school, no problem. I make up that day's work some other day or evening or weekend.

Plus there's a few major benefits. One, I know that some people will actually read what I've written. Let's be honest--with the nonfiction work I do, I have my doubt even the client is interested in the majority of the words translated and at most a small handful of people will be the most to read the document. Two, there's a plot. So much more fun to translate when STUFF is happening. Three, only one invoice. Four, I get to see my name in print. Five, maybe someday a book will sell well enough to earn me some royalties.

Nonfiction books are fun, too. More terminology research usually, though.

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