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Translating a book
Thread poster: Nathalie Reis

Nathalie Reis  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:36
English to French
May 2, 2006

I have the opportunity to translate a business book from English into French. The author would like me to translate it, but has no funds. He says that if I am interested in doing it for a cut of the French profits, then ok! How do I go about it? Has anyone had such an experience previously? Who finds the publishing company in France? What percentage is standard?

Any comment on this would be welcome!

Kind regards

Nathalie Reis

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:36
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Refer to earlier post May 2, 2006

A similar question was posted some time ago. Please see my answer there:

In your case, there is no writing involved, just translation. But the same cautions apply. It is the author of the book who has to write a book proposal, find a publisher, and set up the contracts.

He or she may need you to translate a few pages of the book to add to the book proposal, for example the title page, table of contents, and introduction. For this you should get paid right away at your usual rate.

Based on my own experience, I would be very reluctant to agree to a share of the royalties. So much depends on the deal that is made with the publisher, how the book is marketed and how well it sells. If the author does find a publisher, the contract could or should include payment for the translation.


[Edited at 2006-05-02 16:31]

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Diarmuid Kennan  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:36
Member (2006)
Danish to English
+ ...
Just remember who is taking all the risks May 2, 2006

I agree with Tina.

If the translation of the book does not get published, you get nothing and all your effort is wasted. The author loses nothing. He has already written the book and might therefore be tempted to exaggerate the likelihood of the translation being published.

At the very least get some kind of payment up front so that you can see that they are serious and are willing to share some of the risk. Also, be sure that any royalties are generous enough to reflect the risk that you have taken.


[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2006-05-02 21:22]

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xxxPuicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:36
Swedish to English
Give and take May 5, 2006

Recently I translated a book for a consultancy for which I had already translated two books. This time they proposed that I translate the first 3 chapers out of seven, for which I would get paid my normal fee. It was then up to me to find a publisher for the book. Then I would be paid a special -and generous- fee for finding the publisher and would also be paid to translate the remaining four chapters.
I was lucky to find a publisher quickly and was satisfied with the whole arrangement.

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Nathalie Reis  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:36
English to French
Thank you May 5, 2006

I do realise that I cannot translate a whole book without some kind of money, but then should I suggest to him that I should look for publisher and how do I do that?

I just think that it would be a good opportunity, but obviously, he should think the same!

Thank you for your comments anyway.


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