Calling all editors!

Calling all existing and would-be editors and translators…I set up a little community called Taiwan Foreign Language Editors’ Corner. Just to make myself clear, it is not just for foreign people who edit, but people of any nationality who edit foreign (non-Chinese) languages. Could do with a few more members. Just wander on over to

Could you give us more information on the purpose and functioning of this group?

Thanks for your interest, Richard. The best way to answer your question is to invite you to click on over to Among other things it has a chat room. Members could invite each other to meet up in the chat room at a certain time. By the way, when I say editors, that includes translators.

I noticed you’re advertising for an editing/translation position at $40K/month. I really don’t mean to be rude, but that’s ridiculous! It’s too low for even a beginner, and the position seems to require a certain level of skill. As long as skilled editors work for this type of wage, though, I suppose it will be hard to drive up the price.

But maybe I’ve been out of the market too long. What’s a good wage for editors these days? At my last editorial post in Taipei, I made about $50k/mo (after taxes) for 20 hours/week.

The pay is terribly low. Who could work for that? Plus, they want someone who can also speak Chinese and “Hokkien would be a plus.” Who are they kidding?

So what’s an acceptable monthly wage for an experienced English editor? What about one who can speak Mandarin? And read it? And write it well? And speak Hokkien?

Jeff: Hey, I’d like your previous job if it’s still available!

Chessman71: Maybe that’s why I’ve not settled on a job yet. Many of the jobs I see on offer seem to come with a NT$40,000/month salary. I heard salaries were generally lower in Taiwan but it’s a wonder how people can live on that kind of money. Maybe if you don’t have to pay your own rent and living expenses.

It gets worse. I interviewed for a new english teaching magazine. As a “test” I edited 12 articles for them and got them ready to publish. It took me about 6-7 hours to finish all of them. At the end the boss said the work was incredible and offered me the job. Pay: NT$125 an hour.

I got up and walked out. They got their 12 free articles.

Well, for your information, I got paid a basic NT$33,000 for 3/4 time for the five years I did at Trade Winds (now Interface Global.) If things were busy, I did extra time and was paid more accordingly. Had I been working full time every day, it would have been NT$44,000. That was certainly better than my pay as a volunteer at the Youth Hostels Association, which was two biandangs a day and a bed for the night. So my average pay at Trade Winds was about 37,000 a month. After five years of that, Trade Winds suddenly decided that I was a terrible burden on their budget and sacked me. “roc” (Ron C.), who appears on these forums occasionally, went to work there after me. Since his job involved more in the way of journalism, I suppose his pay was somewhat higher than mine. Ron has now left and none of the other editors they have hired since then has lasted six months.

I think these kinds of firms don’t want to pay their laowai editors much more than they would pay to local people doing the same job. The skill of translation does not seem to have much monetary value in their view. Besides, firms like Trade Winds/Interf*ck, Infotrade, “Wenbi” etc. are largely based on Taiwan’s traditional manufacturing industry, which is shrinking fast. Therefore, these publishers are all sailing close to the rocks, so you can’t expect stellar salaries from them. Who knows where you can get better pay as an editor in Taiwan? Any offers as to the going rates for various types of publication?

Originally posted by chessman71: ...I interviewed for a new English teaching magazine...

What’s the magazine called? Come on, let’s get it all out in the open.

Originally posted by chessman71: It gets worse. I interviewed for a new english teaching magazine. As a "test" I edited 12 articles for them and got them ready to publish. It took me about 6-7 hours to finish all of them. At the end the boss said the work was incredible and offered me the job. Pay: NT$125 an hour.

There’s a website here (can’t remember the url) where editors, writers, etc can post their rates and contact information, and I actually saw editors advertising USD$4/hour.

I cannot imagine why someone who can get an English-teaching/tutoring job for average $1000/hour would want to advertise services at under $150/hour.

Any plans to add gifts/premiums to your site?

I wanted to post this message on Juba’s website, but the registration process is so long! And in the end, you still have to wait to be approved manually!!! Who has the time for all that – especially when you can easily post on another website?

Anyway, here’s the question to my fellow professional editors out there that I was going to ask:

Some of my clients are asking for a “certificate” to accompany some of the work I do for them. What should be in this “editor’s certificate”? Is there a standard format, or will any ol’letter do?

Just word it fancy and use a nice font.
Works in the US too for so-called “Translator’s Certification”. I use something along the lines of:

“I, NAME, hereby certify that the attached is a true, accurate and complete translation of original Chinese document NAME AND ANY NUMBERS, to the best of my ability, and that I am competent to render such translation, being fluent in Chinese and English.”

(of course the last statement could be debated, and the whole thing is practically meaningless, but that’s what the people want.) I don’t know what you can “certify” having edited a piece…that the grammar is correct so far as you know?? That you spell-checked it?? Hmmmm…

I would be careful, however, if they want certification that the edited version is the same as the Chinese original (if it was originally a translation) especially if somebody else did the translation and you are not sure about that person’s level of professionalism. That is a big responsibility and very time-consuming too.

Personally I’ll edit for people writing directly in English, but I don’t do “review” work for other people’s translations unless I know the translator personally, in which case usually there isn’t a heck of a lot of work to be done anyway! The reason for this is that it takes more time for me to confirm every sentence PLUS edit them if necessary than it would to merely translate the darn thing myself and know what was going on from start to finish. If I’m going to sign something saying that it’s completely accurate then I need to have the feeling that it is, and that takes a long time.

Why would you accept a test that consisted of 12 articles?? Just wondering.


Cheers to you, Terry, for your suggestions.

So, no need for a company stamp? I can ask a friend’s company to provide one. But this is a real bother.

My friend (with the company stamp) asked me if a non-disclosure agreement would be a nice touch. I think he’s over doing it.

Chessman, I hope those were 12 --very short- articles.

Originally posted by Zack: Some of my clients are asking for a "certificate" to accompany some of the work I do for them. What should be in this "editor's certificate"? Is there a standard format, or will any ol'letter do?

I used to have similar requests, and just developed a standard form letter. Unfortunately, I don’t have it anymore as I seldom work for private clients these days. Basically, you probably need to mention the title of the document, the authors, and and that it was edited for English grammar and spelling by a professional editors whose native language is English, on such and such date. Short and sweet.

By the way, here are a few links that might be of interest to copy editors:
Has job postings, including some freelance
(Chicago Manual of Style FAQs) (Copyeditor listserv. This is a tightly moderated list, and you should spend some time reviewing rules and previous posts before posting) (Editorial Freelancers Association) (Instructions to Authors in the Health Sciences–a site with links to author instructions for hundreds of biomedical journals)
Bill Walsh’s page for copy editors
(American Copy Editors Society)
American Heritage online dictionary/thesaurus/quotations/etc. Beware the pop-up windows.

Why did I edit 12 articles?
Because I’m a moron.

They said they wanted to see how fast I could do volume work and because i was going to be the only editor, it would be a test. It was also my first professional job so I plead ignorance.

They haven’t put out a single issue yet so I forgot the name.

I wondered if they intended to rip me off from the start but he told me they actually had a foreign editor working for that pay before me so the boss wasn’t willing to pay more. I learned my lesson!

Originally posted by chessman71: I wondered if they intended to rip me off from the start but he told me they actually had a foreign editor working for that pay before me so the boss wasn't willing to pay more.

That was exactly my point when I mentioned in another thread that people shouldn’t work for dirt wages unless they absolutely have to. It just drives down the market rate for everyone. Low wages do a disservice to employers as well, because they drive talented people to other lines of work (or other countries!).

This wasn’t that weirdo that calls himself “Mark Taiwan”, was it?? Claims his authors are American native speakers, but they must be about 85 years old and all British judging from the way they write…

(Been there, didn’t do that, thankfully!!)


Mark Taiwan, eh? Wow, he does sound like a flake! No this guy went by another name. I’m looking for the email now.

You know, my dream is to get my Chinese up to the level that I could translate (C-E) as well as edit. I thought that would make more more marketable and maybe get me more money. That isn’t so is it?

You can definitely make good money translating, provided that:

  1. You can translate (and do the required back-up research) fast enough to make money at it, as you will most likely be paid by the word or the page. This means having a good grasp of the kind of Chinese used in Taiwan (which can be different from “other” Chinese!) and being able to really use the Internet to find stuff.

  2. You can find clients who will pay a reasonable rate. Of course you sell yourself as a native English speaker, but there are still darn few outfits who will pay for that, since most clients can’t tell the difference and don’t care. They’re just as happy as long as somewhere on the resume it says “NTU” or something, even if the English is nasty. If you find private clients, you should be getting NT$2.5-4 per word, but it varies hugely.

To be honest, editing is probably more money for less work, unless you are really into Chinese.\