Royalties for Novel Translation (USA)
Thread poster: Justin Peterson

Justin Peterson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:19
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
Sep 18, 2009

I am a Spanish-English translator and project manager living in Spain.
I have been approached by a sucessful Spanish screenwriter to translate a novel of his, which he aims to publish in the US.
We have reached an agreement regarding payment for the translation, but I think I should insist on royalties, as I really think the book could be a bestseller, and it´s the only way I could make really good money on the deal.
What can I do legally to insure that I am paid royalties?
How are they normally calculated and distributed?
His aim is to sign a deal with an American publisher in New York.
This issue has been addressed before on the forum, but I can't seem to find any clear answer. Thanks.

JRP


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urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:19
German to English
+ ...
whoa there Sep 18, 2009

Has the Spanish novel been published in Spain (by a proper publishing company, not just as a vanity project)? If so, then the English translation rights probably belong to the Spanish publisher and the screenwriter does not have the right to commission a translation of the work into any other language.

The first step would be to persuade a US publisher to buy the English translation rights for the book. A translated excerpt may be useful at this stage, but note that the US publisher may have its own preferred translators and would not be obligated to use the same translator who produced the excerpt.

See these related threads:
http://www.proz.com/forum/literature_poetry/145436-buying_translation_rights_from_a_publishing_house.html
and
http://www.proz.com/forum/literature_poetry/136643-literary_translation_and_copyright.html

The American Literary Translators Association would be able to give you knowledgeable advice.
http://www.literarytranslators.org/booklengthtranslation.html

See also the PEN American Center site:
http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/320


[Edited at 2009-09-18 16:33 GMT]


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Justin Peterson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:19
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, no it hasn´t been published yet Sep 18, 2009

Thanks for your help.

No, it hasn´t been published yet.

The author plans to take it straight to New York where he would like to publish it in English in the US. The content of the work is extremely American and his prime target is the USA, not Spain.

Thanks for the links. Ill check them out.

JRP


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Royalties Sep 18, 2009

I had a serious problem some years ago with a book I published. Publishers have all kinds of tricks to avoid paying you royalties. Here's my advice:

1.

Make sure you have a contract with the publisher, not the Author.

2.

Make sure that this contract applies to all distributors in all countries.

3.

Make sure this contract remains fully valid if the book is sold on to a third party (which often happens).

4.

Make sure there is a clear obligation on the publisher and all third parties (as mentioned above) to provide you with a full sales report in all countries, at three-monthly intervals.

5.

Make sure your entitlement to royalties is active *from the first sale of the first copy" and not after (say) the first 3,000 copies have been sold. You could well end up with nothing.

6.

Get yourself a lawyer who understands the publishing business in the US. Make sure the lawyer OKs the contract before you sign it.

::::::::::

I speak from sad, bitter experience......



[Edited at 2009-09-18 17:24 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-09-18 17:24 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I forgot to add Sep 18, 2009

I forgot to add

7. make sure your contract is valid worldwide and for all present and future editions of the book in all languages.

I recently had the displeasure of seeing my book in a Chinese-language edition. I never got a penny.

[Edited at 2009-09-18 19:12 GMT]


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Royalties for Novel Translation (USA)

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