What do you think of this business model?
Thread poster: Olena Vasilatos

Olena Vasilatos  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
Greek to Russian
+ ...
Jan 26, 2015

Dear colleagues, I would appreciate to "hear" your point of view. I was contacted by a potential client who runs an e-shop selling digital scientific materials (covering mostly medical and educational materials aimed for psychologists, logopedists and other speech therapists). He wants to translate some foreign materials and publish them. So he has the following business offer: payment of an initial amount +10% commission from the sales of each published material. Has anyone ever dealt with sth like this? Is it a common practice? I would like to know how it works in real life and what I should be aware of. Thank you in advance!

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:46
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't like it Jan 26, 2015

I accepted a comparable arrangement some years ago and was not paid a penny in commission in the end, basically because the customer never reported how many copies of the materials were sold.

Personally I do not like the idea at all because with this system you become a financial institution financing the customer's business. I reckon you did not become a translator to end up as a banker.

Having said this, if you are really interested in this type of work, I would not do it unless:

- The initial payment was a high percentage of your usual rate (let's say 70%).

- The commission basically toppled the rest of your usual rate. 10% sounds a bit low.

- Your commission was on the list price of the materials, i.e. you would be paid your full commission on the list price even if the customer decided to offer discount schemes, packaging of documents, volume discounts, etc. at a lower price to their customers. Customer's promotional campaigns or special conditions should not be at your expense.

- The list price of each translated document was established at the time of translation, i.e. your commission would not vary if the customer decided to lower their prices later on.

- The customer was ready to sign a proper contract stating all the above, as well as specifying the mechanisms whereby you would be informed at fixed times of the year (every month or every quarter) about the sales done of the translated documents.

[Edited at 2015-01-26 17:04 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:46
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Another point Jan 26, 2015

Olena Vasilatos wrote:
He wants to translate some foreign materials and publish them.

I agree with Tomás about only accepting if you'll be receiving a low but acceptable amount up-front i.e. if commission payments will merely be the "cherry on the cake".

But I wonder whether you are 100% sure that he will have a right to publish this work. Of course, there's only so much we can do to ensure that we don't unwittingly help our client to infringe the rights of others, but we need to be aware of the potential danger. If there's any doubt at all, it might be wise to finish the work, get paid and get out of the line of fire. Or refuse the job.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:46
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good point Jan 26, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:
But I wonder whether you are 100% sure that he will have a right to publish this work. Of course, there's only so much we can do to ensure that we don't unwittingly help our client to infringe the rights of others, but we need to be aware of the potential danger. If there's any doubt at all, it might be wise to finish the work, get paid and get out of the line of fire. Or refuse the job.

It would not do any harm to add a clause to the agreement whereby you disclaim and are held harmless of any copyright infringement claims by any author or copyright holder, and that the customer declares and represents that the customer is duly authorised by all each and every author or copyright holder to request translation of the materials.

(I am not a lawyer, so the wording or any such clause should ideally be checked by someone who understands legalese.)


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:46
French to German
+ ...
Not a common practice at all Jan 26, 2015

I do not really like this idea neither.

If a customer offers that sort of deal that's because he has difficulties to pay the translation right now and can probably only spend a low amount immediately.

I agree with Tomas though and would only agree if I get at least 70 % of my usual rate to start off with and if the projects interests me a lot or if I do it for a student/a friend etc.

The % you get from the sales can only be the cherry on the cake as Sheila said. A commission for a sale's agent is normally between 15 and 20 %. But who knows maybe the customer wants to pay other furnishers (e. g. the webmaster) the same way and has promised them % as well?

In any case you have to fix everything in a contract and still will not be sure how much your customer does really sell and if he is honnest with you on that.

Does the client live in the same country as you do?

To respond to your question: No, the practice is not common at all.

I do not think it's your problem as a translator whether your customer has actually the rights on what he wants to sell or not (but if ever he does not you will not see your % though...)


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Olena Vasilatos  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
Greek to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks a lot for sharing your opinion! Jan 28, 2015

Dear colleagues, I highly appreciate sharing your opinion!

I agree with all of you. I offered him 70% of my usual rate, let`s see if he is interested...Personally I am kind of interested because I like his website and the target audience. It would be great if he can put my website link in the product description section, mentioning who has done a translation. This way I could "pick up" some other clients as well.
Well, we`ll see. Thank you once again!


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