Ghost translators- have you done this?
Thread poster: Juliana Brown

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:48
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 14, 2007

A potential client for a literary translation has asked me if I would be willing to "ghost" translate his novel, for marketing reasons. One of his selling points is that he supposedly writes in the target language (which is not his native language), and I know for a fact that his first novel WAS written in the target language and did quite well.
Anyhow, for whatever reason, he has written this new one in English and wants it translated, but his agent is worried about his image. So...I have been asked to hide in the wings, per se.
I have no problem with this, being the humble creature I am, and a slave to loftier aspects of literature than mere publicity. I like him, I like the book and I am DESPERATE to do some literary work, which is what I am really trained for.
If any colleagues have ideas as to how to cover my rear in terms of assuring ownership of the translated version, not to mention the credit, without blowing my client's cover, I would appreciate it.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 10:48
German to English
Consult an attorney Dec 15, 2007

This sounds like a situation that requires an attorney's expertise, since it involves copyright and work-for-hire agreements. If, for some reason the author's deception is discovered, you may need legal protection of your rights.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kendy_
Local time: 16:48
French to Creoles & Pidgins (French-based Other)
+ ...
Make a choice... Dec 15, 2007

Well, that's common practice in literature these days. Some people write books and others put their names on the final work.

I don't know how it goes with host translations, but the ghost writers I know simply get a nice check, and they sign a contract that clearly stipulates that they're not allowed to say anything about their "participation".

I don't really see how you could get credit for your work without blowing your client's cover. You might have to make a choice.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ownership Dec 15, 2007

I don't know about "ownership" being an issue; what you really need is to be paid a fair fee for your work, then move on. You get paid, and well I would hope, and with that your involvement ends.

At least that is what I would do. Let the author and publisher do what they will.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:48
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Have not and would not Dec 15, 2007

I agree with Henry re your rights but it sounds to me like a deception that I would not want to participate in.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Saturniana  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:48
English to Romanian
+ ...
Time-limited rights to use a translation Dec 15, 2007

Isn't there a limit in terms of number of years over which they are allowed to use your translation? I mean aren't they paying for the rights to your translation for, say, a period of ten years, after which they should pay you again?

I know that in my country when I sign a contract for a literary translation the publisher may only use my translation for a specific number of the years. After that, if they want to publish the book translated by me again they would have to pay me accordingly.

Therefore I think "ownership" may be an issue here for this particular reason.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:48
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Strangely, I am not at all bothered Dec 15, 2007

about not having my name on the title page; it's a great text to work with, which we all look for, right? I've been offered a sum which is more than generous, so the money isn't the issue either. I did not write the book- the author did.
I want to cover myself in the sense that if I want to join an association of literary translators, for example, and they demand that I have a book translation already published, that I can say yes and have it backed up...Or to get a reference for another literary job.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:48
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hmmm...this is interesting. Dec 15, 2007

Saturniana wrote:

I know that in my country when I sign a contract for a literary translation the publisher may only use my translation for a specific number of the years. After that, if they want to publish the book translated by me again they would have to pay me accordingly.



I hadn't thought to check that out. I have to see whether this would apply in the country of publication.Thanks for the tip.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:48
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A ghost is a ghost! Dec 15, 2007

Juliana,

Maybe you see ghosts, believe in them, whatever. However I bet you never paid nor received any money, or got any concrete gift, from a ghost. You probably did not have ghosts as classmates in any course you ever took (no matter how spooky the venue was) and, even if you did, they didn't get a diploma upon graduation.

So, if you will be ghostwriting, ghost-translating, or ghost-proofreading for anyone, you will be expected not to sign any contract; you'll get paid in cash, and clam up forever after.

It's pretty normal to say you did something of the kind, but you can't ever mention when, how, what for, nor for whom. It's considered part of the game. Yes, you may be bluffing, but it's their risk. If you ever let out a word, it prospects for this kind of work will know they cannot trust you to keep their secret.

I once read a book by a famous, best-selling writer. It was so good that I took all the 700 pages in one shot. Yeah, I read fast. I couldn't wait until the next one. Pure garbage! I dropped it by page 30. And then the next one. Ditto. So I made up my mind that the one I enjoyed so much had been written by a hired ghostwriter. In view of the outcome, that ghostwriter probably became a very successful writer under his/her own name, and doesn't take ghost jobs any more.

I had the chutzpah to write and publish my book in two languages, my native Portuguese and my native-like (but not native) English. As a matter of fact, having to do both is part of the "plot" of the book itself, though reading it in one is enough. However I did hire one native speaker - a Canadian ESL teacher in Brazil - to check my English version. Though the average proportion was about one correction for each 1,000 words, he pointed me to a few spots where the ideas weren't clear enough, sometimes in English, and sometimes even in Portuguese.

Did I credit him on the book? No, I just gave him a cheque. Does he boast about having done it? Never! But I have recommended him to a few people in similar situations. That's how it works.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:48
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am superstitious as a matter of fact, but in this case Dec 15, 2007

I get to be the ghost. At this point it' s the recommendation which I need, and I trust the author to do so if I ask him, because we seem to have a very good rapport already, and he was the one who offered to help me in the future if anyone asked for a reference- I didn't even need to mention it.

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Ghost translators- have you done this?

Advanced search







CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs