Mobile menu

Off topic: Tricky literary translation deal questions
Thread poster: Metamorphosiser
Metamorphosiser
Local time: 08:29
English
+ ...
Feb 7, 2009

Hi all,

I'm a Kurdish translator and a New-York based literary agent contacted me recently, asking if I'd be interested in the translation of a 600-page novel. I'm very very keen on the project - the agent wants me to write a chapter by chapter synopsis and translate around 50 pages, for which he says there's no guarantee I would be paid. If a publisher accepts the copy, then we'll go ahead with the translation of the whole book. The agent says the normal rate is 10 cents per word, but it could be lower! He says I would be paid twice if the book is printed in UK too. So, lots of ifs. Can I ask for any sale percentages or intellectual rights? What is the best I can go for and what should I be looking out for in this deal?

Thanks for your advice.

M


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:29
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Not off-topic Feb 8, 2009

I think the forum moderator should change the thread title to remove "off-topic" because this is a very relevant issue you're asking about.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 09:29
English to Croatian
+ ...
a few suggestions Feb 8, 2009

Metamorphosiser wrote:

Hi all,

I'm a Kurdish translator and a New-York based literary agent contacted me recently, asking if I'd be interested in the translation of a 600-page novel. I'm very very keen on the project - the agent wants me to write a chapter by chapter synopsis and translate around 50 pages, for which he says there's no guarantee I would be paid. If a publisher accepts the copy, then we'll go ahead with the translation of the whole book. The agent says the normal rate is 10 cents per word, but it could be lower! He says I would be paid twice if the book is printed in UK too. So, lots of ifs. Can I ask for any sale percentages or intellectual rights? What is the best I can go for and what should I be looking out for in this deal?

Thanks for your advice.

M


Hi,

You will need a lawyer to compose your contract... and about some general rights a translator is entitled to claim after the book translation has been published and distributed, you may read here :

http://www.fit-ift.org/en/charter.php

http://www.eng.helsinki.fi/projects-and-events/hes/Translation/a_translator.htm

http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/2008/01/interview-with-fred-vargas-translator.html


Direct link Reply with quote
 

chica nueva
Local time: 19:29
Chinese to English
Try Literary Translators' Associations/Society of Authors for information on contracts Feb 9, 2009

Hello M.

Novel translations: Beware of hoaxes. Some of these enquiries aren't genuine. Agencies have been taken in and tricked in the past.

My experience: I was asked once just to translate the first couple of paragraphs, so that the agency could assess my style. The novel was going to be done by several translators, over one year. It was a genuine novel, I found it on the internet, but the enquiry was a hoax.

Business advice: On the web I think you can find a US Literary Translators Association. Also I think the British Society of Authors or PEN has an affiliated section for literary translators. There should be quite a lot of advice on procedures and contracts there, if I remember correctly. I think I might have a book with more information in it.

Royalties: As I understand it, you can be paid for it just as a job on a per word basis, or on some other basis where you get rights, possibly negotiating to be paid translator's royalties if it is published. I suggest you don't overlook the rights aspect.

I think this might have been discussed before in the forums, but I can't find anything in the Forum Search. Hope this helps.

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-02-09 11:08 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Metamorphosiser
Local time: 08:29
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Literary translation Feb 11, 2009

Thanks Lesly and ? for your useful comments.

The agent spoke to me over the phone and I checked out his company - so, I should be ok with hoax.

Also, any book or guide on literary translation you guys came across that found useful?

M


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:29
Member (2004)
German to English
Proceed with caution Feb 11, 2009

It's an exciting prospect, but make sure that all the possible complications have been thought through before you start, and don't start until you have an agreement in writing that covers all aspects of the deal. Two issues which I would regard it as crucial to cover are 1) Proofreading - a text for publication has to be 100% correct with regard to spelling, punctuation etc. Make sure you are absolutely clear whether the publisher is going to get the text proofread or whether you need to factor in the cost of this yourself. Make sure your contract defines the procedure in case errors are found - you don't want them refusing payment because they found a few spelling mistakes. 2) Payment - you are likely to be exposing yourself to far too much risk if you agree to do the whole translation before you get paid. Negotiate some sort of stage payments (monthly or whatever) and possibly a payment up front before you start as a sign of good faith.

Don't work for a rate so low that it will make you disgruntled or slapdash, just because there is a vague prospect of additional income in the future - you need a rate that is good enough for you to be motivated to put your best efforts into the translation, not forgetting that what seems exciting now may be feeling quite tedious by page 499, especially if there are a lot of points on which you have to do research or seek clarification.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

chica nueva
Local time: 19:29
Chinese to English
Landers, "Literary Translation - A Practical Guide", 2001 Feb 12, 2009

Metamorphosiser wrote:

Thanks Lesly and ? for your useful comments.
...
Also, any book or guide on literary translation you guys came across that found useful?

M


I have this one. The final section is on contracts.

http://books.google.com/books?id=RnBUh9EQ3eUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=landers%20literary%20translation

[Edited at 2009-02-12 06:56 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Metamorphosiser
Local time: 08:29
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Feb 23, 2009

Thanks Lai and Armorel... Great piece of advice. Have been looking for a book on Literary Translation, so the link is really useful... I've started the sample translation, so wish me good luck!

M


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 »

Tricky literary translation deal questions

Advanced search


Translation news





PDF Translation - the Easy Way
TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation.

TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation. It also puts your translations back into the PDF to make new PDFs. Quicker and more accurate than hand-editing PDF. Includes free use of Infix PDF Editor with your translated PDFs.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »



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