novel translator's rights
Thread poster: Daniel McDonald
Daniel McDonald
Local time: 23:10
French to English
Oct 9, 2010

Hello All,
I'm a newbie to the translation world with a few months experience. I've been asked to translate a novel from french into english for eventual scriptwriting to produce a movie. The author has given verbal approval, as have the producer and financial teams.
I was hoping someone in here might know about what translator rights i might have. For example, should the book carry recognition of my translator services, do i have control over the text i produce, are there potential royalties, etc...
Anybody? Any other key info i should know about, feel free to toss in, i'm all ears.
Thanks in advance,
dan


[Edited at 2010-10-09 17:23 GMT]


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:10
French to English
+ ...
Negotiate these things Oct 9, 2010

bakiane wrote:

Hello All,
I'm a newbie to the translation world with a few months experience. I've been asked to translate a novel from french into english for eventual scriptwriting to produce a movie. The author has given verbal approval, as have the producer and financial teams.
I was hoping someone in here might know about what translator rights i might have. For example, should the book carry recognition of my translator services, do i have control over the text i produce, are there potential royalties, etc...
Anybody? Any other key info i should know about, feel free to toss in, i'm all ears.
Thanks in advance,
dan


IMO, you should do the following:

- negotiate the issues you mention above
- get a *written* contract clearly stating the terms you've negotiated

I think in many jobs, some subset of the arrangements you mention would be typical, but nothing is an unmentioned divine "right" -- they're business details that you need to agree on.

An issue you might want to think about is the interaction between being named as the author of the translation, and then future editing that will take place after you have submitted the translation (so in effect, your name will potentially appear against a text that you haven't agreed to).


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Daniel McDonald
Local time: 23:10
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
text control Oct 9, 2010

Thanks Neil, yes i think you bring up a valid point what happens to the text after i submit my translation. I'll have to include that in the contract.
cheers
d


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fee Oct 10, 2010

The main thing is to negotiate and receive a proper fee for your work. If you collect that, then do not worry about any "rights" you surely do not have.

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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
I see you are based in France Oct 10, 2010

Maybe you could contact the Association des traducteurs littéraires de France.
The information on their website has helped me a lot to negociate with publishers (including non-French publishers).
Royalties are a bonus, but you might receive close to nothing if the book is not successful so you'd better make sure you negociate a proper fee for your work.


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Daniel McDonald
Local time: 23:10
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
l'asso Oct 10, 2010

Thanks Geraldine, asso des trad lit en france is a good lead. Yes, royalties are pretty iffy, unless you've lucked out on the the harry potters.
cheers.


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Daniel McDonald
Local time: 23:10
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
novel vs 'basic' text rates Oct 10, 2010

Dear all,
This novel (french to eng) is a first time for me (I normally work in the environment and ecology fields), and i'm bumping into the far more time consuming elements of sub-text, dialogue conventions, nuances of language...all taking up more time than my habitually straightforward science-themed texts. With translation rates pegged to X€ / word, does one shift the rate up if it's a 40,000 word novel compared to a page or two of basic info text?
Dare i ask what to charge for this work? Anyone with experience care to toss a figure out?
Many thanks,
dan

[Edited at 2010-10-10 13:04 GMT]


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:10
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Only for movie production? Oct 10, 2010

It sounds as if your translation only serves the purpose to support a subsequent movie production, is that right?

In that case, you'll have to be extra careful and make sure you get everything in writing, because it is very likely that you will not get any credits or royalties from the movie. So, make sure that your reward is really sufficient for you. I don't know the particular circumstances of this project, but you might want to consult with an entertainment attorney...


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Daniel McDonald
Local time: 23:10
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
movie? Oct 10, 2010

Hi Simone,
Translating the novel is both for publication and to provide an english version for scriptwriters. Nevertheless you do bring up valid points - that 'get everything in writing' seems to be a persistent theme in this world. I'm expected to draw up my own contract and set the fee - within reason, of course. I see there's quite a bit a variability in terms of when and how payment is made - portions paid throughout in installments or lump sums at the end. Seeing as this will take at least month if not two, i'd opt for the installments. Is that customary in the trans biz?
best,
d


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:10
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Ah I see Oct 10, 2010

Ok, if it's for publication, too, then that's a different story. Do you already have a "yes" from a publisher?

There are indeed contracts where you can specify that you will also receive some (tiny) amount from the sales of the book. Your decision here obviously should depend on the success of the original book. If you don't expect the foreign-language version to generate high sales numbers, you'll be better off with a one-time payment. If the original book is highly successful, you might want to consider a smaller one-time payment + a share from the sales revenue (which is more risky).

I can't say much about the literary field here, but for the non-fiction book I translated I chose the one-time payment to be on the safe side. Haven't really regretted it. But things might be different with fiction books...

There are various contract templates available online (I know there are some for German.. that French association someone else mentioned probably has sample contracts, too?).. but be sure to ask enough people for comments/advice if you want to draw up your own contract (I wouldn't really dare to do this).

About the installments: well, you can always negotiate this. If it's a lot of work, then installments are common. But if you work with/for a publisher, payment for the final delivery is more common (I think.. but I don't have enough experience myself here to back it up with actual numbers).

Just don't rush it and make sure you got everything sorted out before you start the job.


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Dragomir Kovacevic  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:10
Italian to Serbian
+ ...
there are rights of the kind you ask... Oct 10, 2010

i.e. on the contrary of what another colleague said (ref. that you "surely don't have them")

You can, if you want to, negotiate to have royalties from one of more publications. This, besides the fixed fee for translation. Of course, the latter one is a bit smaller in that case.

As for mentioning your name in the book, this is obviously normal, unless you decide not to have it published.

Dragomir

Daniel McDonald wrote:

Hello All,
I'm a newbie to the translation world with a few months experience. I've been asked to translate a novel from french into english for eventual scriptwriting to produce a movie. The author has given verbal approval, as have the producer and financial teams.
I was hoping someone in here might know about what translator rights i might have. For example, should the book carry recognition of my translator services, do i have control over the text i produce, are there potential royalties, etc...
Anybody? Any other key info i should know about, feel free to toss in, i'm all ears.
Thanks in advance,
dan


[Edited at 2010-10-09 17:23 GMT]


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Daniel McDonald
Local time: 23:10
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
royalties etc Oct 10, 2010

Hi Dragomir, yes i believe you're right - there are potential royalties if i wish to negotiate them but as Simone rightly points out, one should consider the likelihood of the book hitting Oprah's book club before taking a gamble on it. Seems to be a bit of guesswork and risk-taking when putting a contract for a novel together. This should be fun.
d


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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
Payment per page/feuillet Oct 11, 2010

Publishers don't pay per word, but per page ("feuillet" in French). One page is usually 1500 signs including spaces, but some publishers will define it at 1800 or 2000 signs, so you'd better know how long is one page before negociating your rate.
L'Association des traducteurs littéraires de France regularly publishes a survey about the rates, which should give you an idea of the market.
They also provide information on royalties, which seem to range from 0,5% to 4% on top of the above fee, and a sample contract.
You should also be careful as to when the payment is going to be made. Don't accept a contract stating that you will be paid when (=if) the translation is accepted by the publisher. In France it is usually 1/3 when you sign the contract, 1/3 at delivery and 1/3 when the publisher accepts your translation.
If the book doesn't look like it's going to be a best seller, it won't be hard to ask for royalties. I find negociating for where your name is going to be in the book much, much harder. If you don't specify anything in the contract, your name will not be where it shoudl be (on the cover, or at least on the second page). It will be somewhere in the book, but the font will be so small that you will have trouble finding it.

Good luck for the negociations!


[Modifié le 2010-10-11 02:28 GMT]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:10
Italian to English
Translators Association Oct 11, 2010

The Translators Association (yes, I would have preferred an apostrophe, too!), which is part of the London-based Society of Authors, has a lot of helpful information you can download from the site:

http://www.societyofauthors.org/translators-association

including a guide to translator/publisher contracts. It won't help you with the intricacies of French law but it will give you a good idea of what to look out for. There's a small fee for the guide if you're not a member.

Geraldine's points are all good ones, by the way.

Giles


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Daniel McDonald
Local time: 23:10
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
talking turkey Oct 11, 2010

Thanks Geraldine and Giles,
Why would publishers go by a feuillet as their metric instead of per word as the translating world seems to operate on? No need to answer, just wondering aloud... I take it the feuillet is the measure of how many keyboard jabs needed to make one 'page', but one publisher's page isn't equivalent to the number of pages in the novel, i'd guess? More weeds to wade through...
I seem to be on the cusp of thinking that i've got the gist of what i need to know and another basket of info nuggets drops into my lap...
Cheers
d


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