Sample contract for literary translation needed (more info in this thread)
Thread poster: Audra deFalco
Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 15:41
Italian to English
+ ...
Oct 15, 2014

I've just landed a job to translate a book and will be working directly with the author. I'm very excited, especially since I've never worked closely with an author before (I've always had an agency or a colleague as a go between when doing literary work), so I want a contract that is good for both of us.

We've agreed upon a set rate, and as neither of us are sure the book is going to be published... is it too early to start talking about royalties or such? Should this contract only regard rate, payment terms, completion date, etc. or should it broach possible royalties as well? What are the things that absolutely must be included within a contract between author and translator?

Does anyone have a model contract?


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 03:41
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Have things down in writing Oct 15, 2014

While I've never translated a book, it's better for everyone to have everything relating to money clearly laid out in writing.

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Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 15:41
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes Oct 15, 2014

Absolutely... that's why I'm wondering what should be included as per standard literary contracts.

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:41
Russian to English
+ ...
I really think you need a lawyer. Oct 15, 2014

Hi, Audra. I think you really need a lawyer to prepare a contract for you--a publishing, or entertainment law lawyer. Be careful, because some of them may be very expensive, like $750/hr.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:41
Chinese to English
Lawyer definitely a good idea Oct 16, 2014

If you've done books before, couldn't you adapt the contracts you had with the publishers then?

But I do think that a lawyer is a good idea, especially if you and the author live in different jurisdictions. Stuff like dispute resolution procedures needs to be nailed down, and realistically it takes an experience international lawyer to get that right.

Bunch of links:
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/172702-sample_contract_for_book_translation.html
http://www.pen.org/model-contract
http://www.ceatl.eu/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/DutchMC1.pdf
http://www.attlc-ltac.org/model-translation-contract


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I don't think you need a separate contract. Oct 16, 2014

I've done about twenty books, and I've never had one. You just need to agree terms in an exchange of emails, which is a valid contract.

I've also never managed to get royalties.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:41
German to English
two other discussions regarding pitfalls Oct 16, 2014

There have recently been two discussions relevant to this topic:

http://www.proz.com/forum/literature_poetry/275978-i_have_done_something_very_stupid_do_i_have_any_leg_to_stand_on.html

http://www.proz.com/forum/literature_poetry/275857-pricing_a_romance_novel_from_port_to_engl.html


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:41
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Make sure to have a contract Oct 16, 2014

philgoddard wrote:

I've done about twenty books, and I've never had one. You just need to agree terms in an exchange of emails, which is a valid contract.


In a recent (still ongoing) survey for Macedonian translators on translating for publishers, I asked:
Has it ever happened that you started to work on a book translation for a publisher without a contract?
Over 25% chose the answer "Yes; I took undue risk and there were some problems eventually".

Don't do it. There are excellent model contracts (e.g., the PEN model contract already cited). They spell out all important points. You can find, read, understand, and sign one in an hour. It will ensure your peace of mind while you work on the book for weeks or months. Don't try to save time on that.

Attila


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J A Lawrence  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 22:41
Greek to English
model translation contract Oct 16, 2014

I just received this from a friend. I had NO idea that the translation is copyright to the translator! That raises a number of issues...

Contracts can be adjusted to appropriate needs, of course.

MODEL CONTRACT

Agreement made this day [date] between [translator’s name], (“Translator”), and [publisher’s name],
(“Publisher”) concerning a translation (the “Translation”) of [name of work] (the “Work”) by [author’s name] (the “Author”).
1. The Translator will translate the Work from [original language] into English and will deliver the Translation to the Publisher on or before [date].
2. Publisher agrees not to make any changes to the final approved version of the Translation except for copy-editing to conform with Publisher’s standard style and punctuation, spelling and capitalization.
Publisher will send Translator the copy-edited manuscript of the Translation and Translator agrees to provide any revisions or corrections within [X] weeks of receipt.
3. The Translator represents and warrants to the Publisher that no material of an objectionable or libelous character not present in the original work will be introduced into the translation. Subject to this representation, the Publisher hereby indemnifies and holds the Translator harmless against all suits, claims, causes of action, expenses or costs of any kind including legal fees arising out of the content of the original work. Publisher will cover Translator with respect to any lawsuits arising from the publication of the
Translation under any publishers’ liability insurance policy (covering such risks as defamation, invasion of privacy and copyright and trademark infringement) the Publisher has that covers any lawsuit (the “Policy”).
4. The Translator shall receive an advance of [X dollars] for the translation, payable as follows: The Translator shall receive [X dollars] upon signature of this contract by both parties, and the remainder due shall be paid upon delivery of the completed translation.
5. In addition, the Translator shall receive a royalty of [X percent] on all sales of the book, based on the retail list price of the hardcover edition. The Translator shall also receive a royalty of [X percent] on all paperback sales of the book, based on the retail sales price of the paperback edition and its net sales.
Translator shall receive an amount equal to [X percent] of 100% of Publisher’s net receipts from sales of the Translation in electronic form. Publisher will pay Translator an amount equal to [X percent] of subsidiary rights income from all sources. The Translator shall receive accounting statements from the Publisher under the same schedule as for the original author.
6. The Translator’s name shall appear on the cover and title page of all editions of the book, and in all publicity and advertising copy released by the Publisher, wherever the author’s name appears, in a type size not smaller than sixty (60%) percent of that for the author’s name. Publisher agrees to print Translator’s approved biography on the back flap of the hardcover edition, on the back cover of any trade paperback edition of the Translation, and the title page of any electronic edition.
7. On first publication of the English translation, the Publisher shall give the Translator ten (10) free copies of each edition of the work, and the Translator may purchase additional copies from the Publisher at a discount of fifty percent from the retail list price.
8. The Translator shall have the right no more than once per calendar year, to examine Publisher’s books, records and agreements relevant to the Translation at Translator’s expense. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if such audit reveals accounting errors of at least five (5%) percent of the amounts due to Translator, then Publisher will reimburse Translator for the costs of the audit and the amount due as a result of the audit
within thirty (30) days thereafter.
9. Publisher agrees to register the Translation of the Work in the Translator’s name and the Translator grants to Publisher for the full term of copyright and all renewals and extensions thereof the sole and exclusive right to reproduce, publish, and sell the translation in whole or in part throughout the world.
10a. [Standard reversion clause] If at any time the rights to the Work revert to the Author, then the rights to the Translation shall at the same time automatically revert to the Translator.
10b. [Reversion clause to cover eBook contracts] If the Publisher fails to keep the Work in print and does not reprint it within [X] months of its receipt of written request to do so, then the Translator will have the right to terminate this agreement by written notice to Publisher. The Work shall be considered "in print" as long as the Publisher
Option 1: sells more than one hundred (100) digital copies [number of copies negotiable] of the Work in the two (2) preceding accounting periods.
Option 2: remits more than $125 [negotiable] in royalty income resulting from sales of digital copies of the Work in the two (2) preceding accounting periods.
11. Furthermore, the Publisher shall inform and make available for purchase to the Translator any unsold books at or below manufacturing cost (defined as the cost of paper, printing, and binding).
12. This contract may be cancelled only by the express agreement of both parties in writing.
In witness whereof, the parties hereto have signed this agreement at [place] on [date].
________________________
[Translator’s signature]
________________________
[Publisher’s signature]

More on this later.


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J A Lawrence  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 22:41
Greek to English
more on contracts Oct 16, 2014

So far my work has been for new or self publishing authors, and so on an informal basis, written agreements of a skeletal kind. But one of my clients has placed his first book with a large commercial publisher, which changes things. He has another book now, and I think we should go to a more professional basis, hence the research above.

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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:41
German to English
New thread by JA Lawrence? Oct 17, 2014

It might be helpful for a lot of people if you would open a new thread talking about translation work directly for authors without publishers.

I was not aware that this goes on much, but I certainly seem to be wrong, and a lot of people would probably benefit from talking about their experiences and strategies in an area that I would guess is full of potential pitfalls.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:41
Member (2014)
English to German
A lawyer would be a good idea Oct 17, 2014



Sorry, I have removed my thread, but it is definitely advisable to go through the contract with a lawyer to make sure it is sound and it really is what you want. Also, keep asking questions and insist that they are answered. I didn't ask enough and the one' I asked were sometimes ignored.


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Sample contract for literary translation needed (more info in this thread)

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