the translation of books. Should I receive a percentage on the copies sold?
Thread poster: tradumarian
tradumarian
Local time: 23:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 6, 2009

I was asked to translate a book into two versions in a same language. They are going to be sold in two countries. Should I ask my client a percentage more on the copies she is going to sell? In fact, I am the author of the translation, and she is going to make many copies of it. And what is more, in her book she mentions trademarks and the name of a big company. I do not mention these in the version that is going to be sold in my country because I suppose I need a permission and apart from that I would be making free publicity for them. But I do mention these trademarks and big company in the version that is going to be sold in her country (were she has permission to mention them). They are her sponsors. Should I receive a percentage for making this publicity of them? What do you advise me to do?

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Nguyen Dieu  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 09:15
Member (2008)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
Ask for certain percentage Jul 7, 2009

I used to translate some books and the agency also offer me a certain percentage based the copy volume (a part from translation rate) and even for their reprints.

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chica nueva
Local time: 14:15
Chinese to English
It depends on your contract ... Jul 7, 2009

Hello tradumarian

Could you please tell us some information about yourself on your profile (otherwise how do we know you are not a 'sock puppet').

As far as I know, it depends on your contract. Do you have a contract yet? I suggest you do a Forum Search on ProZ on 'royalties'. I think you can be paid either 'per word only' or 'per word plus ongoing royalties on sales'. There is detailed information on some translators/writers websites that I know of, mostly in relation to literary translation.

Here is a link to start:
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/134194-how_to_quote_a_literary_translation.html

Lesley


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:15
Member
English to Turkish
My advice Jul 7, 2009

Hello "tradumarian",

Copyright legislation and conventional practices may vary from country to country, which means that you may not benefit at all from any advice given by someone outside the country you're doing this business. Being both the author and the translator, you should have a good commercial edge there and should be able to make a good contract. In any case, I would say that you should have rights on each copy sold both as the author and the translator. My practical advice: contact relevant associations in the country concerned and learn about your rights under the copyright law; also, seek advice from a legal professional specializing in copyright law, and try to draw the best contract possible for your position. Do not leave the contract terms to the discretion of the publisher.

Good luck!


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chica nueva
Local time: 14:15
Chinese to English
Tell us more about this job, and how about asking in the Spanish Forum ... Jul 7, 2009

tradumarian wrote:

I was asked to translate a book into two versions in a same language. They are going to be sold in two countries. Should I ask my client a percentage more on the copies she is going to sell? In fact, I am the author of the translation, and she is going to make many copies of it. And what is more, in her book she mentions trademarks and the name of a big company. I do not mention these in the version that is going to be sold in my country because I suppose I need a permission and apart from that I would be making free publicity for them. But I do mention these trademarks and big company in the version that is going to be sold in her country (were she has permission to mention them). They are her sponsors. Should I receive a percentage for making this publicity of them? What do you advise me to do?


Hello again tradumarian

It sounds as if you are doing a big job (2 versions) English->Spanish (I guess) directly for an author in another country. If you do not have a contract, then I suggest you ask for payment in instalments. Also I suggest you see a professional advisor (lawyer or accountant) or contact your local translators' association, to help you to draw up a contract before getting too far into the job. Are you able to tell us which market the translated work is for? and where you are based? How about asking again in the Spanish Forum.

About the trademarks and sponsors thing in the text - has the author given you any advice about this. Further, what information do you have about this 'sponsorship'. Is there a contract between the sponsor and the author? Does the sponsor know you are doing these translations? Is there payment in there for you? ...

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-07-07 21:27 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Percentage of sales, not of other income Jul 8, 2009

tradumarian wrote:
But I do mention these trademarks and big company in the version that is going to be sold in her country (were she has permission to mention them). They are her sponsors. Should I receive a percentage for making this publicity of them?


Royalties is not a profit sharing system, if I understand correctly. A translator who receives royalties isn't sharing in his client's profits -- he has merely sold (and is selling) rights (i.e. the right to make/sell a copy) to his client, on a per-copy basis.

So, I think you can claim royalties based on the number of sales of your translated work, but not based on the amount of profit made from such sales or other income-generating gimmicks associated with the distribution of your work. While it is true that royalties are often expressed as a percentage of the sale price, I suspect that this is merely for convenience.

I look forward to what others (more knowledgeable) have to say about this particular issue.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:15
Member
English to Turkish
A correction Jul 9, 2009

After reading Samuel's post, re-reading mine, and re-considering the thread title, I need to emphasize this: as an author and/or translator, you should have rights on each copy printed, not sold.

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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:15
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Royalties Jul 10, 2009

Özden Arıkan wrote:

After reading Samuel's post, re-reading mine, and re-considering the thread title, I need to emphasize this: as an author and/or translator, you should have rights on each copy printed, not sold.


Hi Özden,

I'm not sure I get your post right: you have rights on each printed copy, but royalty (if any) is paid after sold copies in my experience. In many countries this boils down to the particularities of the book market: by far the strongest actors are distributors, who take margins of 40, 50,or sometimes even 60% of the retail price, and paying months after the books have been sold. This is certainly a major problem for publishers, as they remain undercapitalized, and they try to save on authors' and translators' fees and royalties.

While the details vary from country to country, publishers typically offer a fixed sum for the translation (possibly in several installments) and, if the translator negotiates it, a royalty after each book sold (sometimes the royalty for the first print run is included in the fixed sum, sometimes it is not).

Concerning the royalty: it can be based on the list price, the retail price, and sometimes on the profit made by the publisher -- so if the distributor gives a 30% discount (which is not unusual at Amazon), there is a huge difference (it is more than bookkeeping). So, make sure to clarify that in the contract.

Attila


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