Translating ebooks for commission - what % to charge?
Thread poster: LinguaLab.net

LinguaLab.net
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:57
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Jan 30, 2008

Hello everyone,

I just offered a business contact that I could translate her e-book for a commission of the sales profits, and she jumped at the idea! Which is absolutely wonderful, but I have no idea what percentage to charge, and I need to get back to her asap!

Does anyone have any idea?

All suggestions will be very welcome, I'm completely in the blue here!

Thanks in avance,

Nina
www.lingualab.net


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fee Jan 30, 2008

Since you are totally inexperienced at doing things by commission, why enter into such an agreement? Why not just do it for a set fee, payable right away.

Number one, how will you know how many have been sold so you know you are being paid the commission you are owed?

I don`t know what number two is, with number one it is enough. I say forget that arrangement.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with Henry Jan 31, 2008

For this sort of job, I'd quote a per-word fee, unless it was something that I was sure would sell well (e.g., if someone wants you to translate the latest Stephen King novel).

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LinguaLab.net
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:57
English to Norwegian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Obviously I believe in the product or I wouldn't have made the offer ;o) Jan 31, 2008

It ain't Stephen King, but obviously I believe in the product or I wouldn't have made the offer to my contact.

Oh, and keeping track of sales are easy using a proper autoresponder/shopping cart service.

Getting paid per word pays you once... Getting a percentage/royalties for each sale provides you with a passive income as you will get paid over and over and over again. Yeah, it might take a while to recoup the money my time is worth, but once that's done, everything else is pure profit!

Anyway, I was just wondering what kind of percentage it would be wise to ask for - does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing?

Thanks in advance,

Nina
www.lingualab.net


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:57
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
You need to crunch the numbers Jan 31, 2008

If I were you, I would not take a contract that is only royalties (% of sales).
When I was writing books (long time ago) I agreed to a fix sum with the publisher, AND royalties after the copies sold. The fix amount was due at delivery, it wasn't great but it was acceptable. My thinking was that I had fun with writing the book so I could live with that payment, even if there were no royalties afterwards. (But there were.)

I guess there are common ranges in the publishing industry for such arrangements, but of course, many things are subject to negotiation, and your deal does not look like a formal publishing deal anyway, it is more like a direct deal with the author for the translation of his/her (self published?) book.

So, if I were you, I would sit down and figure out how much I would charge for this work if it was a single payment deal. That is, how much time it would take to translate the thing X hourly fee (or wordcount X per word fee). Let's call it NORM FEE.

You want your worst case scenario revenue to cover this, or just a bit less, if you are willing to give up some revenue for the fun of doing the translation, or for having your name in print, or whatever other benefits you are expecting from the deal. So, define your absolute minimum required revenue. Let's call it MIN FEE. You would ask for it as the fixed price, and royalties would come on top of it.

Next, you need to figure out some expectations for the number of copies sold. You need to do some research - similar books, or other books of this author - how many did they sell? Similar books in print: how many copies were printed by the publisher (that indicates their expectations somewhat). The venue where the book is going to be sold also plays a role (is it a well-known portal with lots of traffic?). Let's call the expected minimum number of copies MIN COPIES. The price they charge for each copy is PER COPIES PRICE.

The minimum royalties percentage that you would need to get on top of your fixed MIN payment can be calculated as follows:
ROY% = (NORM FEE - MIN FEE) / (MIN COPIES X PER COPIES PRICE) X 100

In other words, you would get MIN FEE, plus ROY% per each sold copy.


If you want to whole deal to be pure royalties (which I do not recommend, but you know your situation better), then you could use:
PURE ROY% = NORM FEE / (COPIES X PER COPIES PRICE) X 100

I hope this helps.


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LinguaLab.net
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:57
English to Norwegian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, Katalin! Feb 1, 2008

That was very useful and full of practical advice! Thank you so much!

The number of copies sold is the most uncertain factor for me... The e-book is an information product and there is practically no similar information in the target market. So this really could go either way, which is sort of why I would be happy to be paid just royalties. That way my contact only pays me for every copy that sells in the target language. I would also be involved in marketing it myself, so it will be a fun experiment. I am hoping to start writing my own e-books soon!

Anyway, I will print out your post and consider your advice very carefully!

Thanks again, Katalin!

All the best from Nina
www.lingualab.net


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