Royalties for proofreading a novel?
Thread poster: Diego Achío

Diego Achío  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:23
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 19, 2014

So I have this client who wrote a book and he expects to publish it in Mexico. He wants me to proofread his book before sending it to the publisher as it is his first work and he is afraid they might reject it. Anyway, issue is he can't afford the proofreading, so he proposed paying with royalties.

I have never worked with royalties before, this is all I know about my situation:

- If the publisher rejects the book, he won't have money to pay me. Unless he publishes the book on his own.
- I know publishers pay royalties to authors, usually between 5-15%. I guess I would have to ask for 1-3%
- Our deal would be completely independant to the publisher. Should we make a contract for ourselves?

My main doubts are: Is this deal something possible? Will I get in trouble with the publisher if they accept the book and sign a contract with the author?


Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:23
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't do it Aug 19, 2014

Tell your client that if he wants the proofreading done he will just have to pay your professional fee for that service. Simple as that.

For one thing, the chances of there being any royalties to split sound pretty shaky to say the least.


Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Stay away Aug 19, 2014

I wouldn't touch that sort of deal with a bargepole.

To quote Wikipedia, "A royalty is a usage-based payment made by one party (the "licensee") to another (the "licensor") for the right to ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property (IP)".

But you have no right to any asset or intellectual property as proofreader. You cannot licence something you don't own the rights to. The author owns the rights, and he suggests to pay you royalties for his use of his own rights? It doesn't make sense from a legal aspect.

He could offer you another type of payment as a percentage, of course, but chances are you will never see a penny. There are thousands of new authors who want to see themselves in print, but only few of them are successful.

If the author's manuscript is good enough, the publisher should cover the costs of proofreading. If the author is so uncertain about the quality of his writing, then it is most likely because he won't get very far, and you will end up working for nothing.

It is simply not the proofreader's job as a service provider to take any of the author's risks.

Why doesn't he just try publishing it as an e-book on Amazon? A large percentage of Amazon's e-book sales are new authors. If it takes off, he can always pay for proofreading and publish a new edition, or maybe a publisher becomes interested.


Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:23
English to French
When I can't afford something Aug 19, 2014

Diego Achío wrote:
... issue is he can't afford the proofreading..

I live without it.
Or I get a loan from a bank.

Rule n°1: don't expect to get things you cannot afford.


[Edited at 2014-08-19 16:07 GMT]


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:23
Chinese to English
Nothing wrong with freebies Aug 19, 2014

But that's what this would be. If you want to help this author, then go for it. But make sure he understands it, too.


Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:23
German to English
Getting a first novel published ... Aug 19, 2014

... is notoriously difficult. You certainly have to reckon with the likelihood that it will be rejected.


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Royalties for proofreading a novel?

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