For both parties, a written agreement is always the best option. A contract doesn’t intimate a lack of trust, but rather being straightforward about exactly what, when and how services will be given, and what, when and how payment will be expected. I also think that a contract makes one look much more professional.
Of course, it goes without saying that the editor/translator must have already seen and done a sample page or two. Never, but never, accept a job without seeing a sample of a number of pages, preferably NOT from the beginning of the document. And to clients I advise never agree to a job without seeing a sample (1-2 pages) of work. Surprises are just not good things.
Sending a contract by email, as far as I am concerned, works well. The client simply has to write back with “I agree.” Keep the entire email, and that is proof enough of intentions.
Here is a sample contract in English, the text in italics is not to be included in the actual agreement.
Date of Agreement: ____________
Assignment: Editing/Translating of (Title of Document) by (Author’s name).
Editor’s details: My name, address, phone numbers, I.D. number, and Skype name
Client’s details: (please fill in) Client’s name, ID No. , Address, Phone numbers, Skype name
Scope of work: (Here you write exactly what you will be doing: translating, proofreading, editing, polishing [style, grammar, and syntax] of text, etc. If this is an academic article, state whether the contract includes editing the references and footnotes for style, which is a very time-consuming job.)
Unless otherwise requested, style will follow American English spelling and usage (e.g., “color” instead of “colour”).
Format: The assignment will be sent to the Editor as a Word file, and all work will be done electronically and shared through email. The Editor will have no obligation to print the document, in part or in full.
The Editor will employ the “Track Changes” function to enable the client to follow changes and suggestions made by the editor, and thereby accept or reject them. The Editor agrees to be available for questions and queries, either by email, Skype, or by phone.
Estimated Cost: The text including footnotes will be edited at _____ per page. A “page” is considered 250 words. (Note: If it’s a translation, the count is done in the target language. This should be stipulated in the contract. If it is a piece to be edited, you may want to count original no. of words and final no. of words, and take the highest. Or you may charge by the hour, or just one global charge. For academic article, you may charge the text by the word, but the references by the hour.)
Note: During editing, the Author is entitled to suggest alternate words/phrasing, etc. to a reasonable degree. However, any quantity of text rewritten by the Author and submitted for editing again, will be considered new material and the number of words added to the total charged. (Note: This is to leave yourself an out if the author decides to “fix” the work over and over again.)
Note that this is the final price and DOES NOT include VAT. (I do not charge VAT as I am an “עסק פטור”.) I issue receipts (קבלות), NOT VAT invoices (חשבוניות מס).I can send pro-forma invoices (חשבוניות עסקה) if required. (Change as required.)
Timeframe: The work is to be ready for review by (day) at (time, if applicable), Israeli time. This is contingent on the client reviewing and returning my edited pages promptly of receiving a file so that I may continue further in a timely manner. If the client so desires, the project may be divided into sections to facilitate faster review.
Payment : (Write the terms here. I usually ask first-time clients for a deposit up front. For short pieces I request payment upon completion [I send a bill]; for longer projects I request payment in installments along with the work. Sample follows. )
To show good faith (for all new clients) first installment (minimum 25% = xxx shekels) to be made immediately by check, PayPal, or Bank Transfer (details below). The remaining cost is payable immediately upon completion of the project.
NDA (Non-disclosure agreement): The Editor agrees to keep the work in strict confidence and will not share or reveal any parts of the work to any other party unless given express permission by the author to do so. This NDA becomes null and void in the event that the client fails to pay money owing in full, and in a timely manner.