what percentage should I ask, for book translation?
Thread poster: GoPlayer

Local time: 10:04
Oct 31, 2009


I have translated a book on the game of Go some years ago.The book was originally in Japanese, but it has been translated to French. I translated the French version to English with some help from the guy who translated it to French.

The book was never published as the publisher I made the translation for folded. Their chief executive has told me I can get the translation published with another publisher and that they waive their rights to the translation.

so, now I'm in contact with another publisher and they have asked me what percentage I would want. I don't really know what to answer. What is a reasonable percentage?

Thanks for any advice; I am not a professional translator.

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-10-31 10:38 GMT]


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:04
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Articles on royalties Oct 31, 2009

GoPlayer wrote:
I'm in contact with another publisher and they have asked me what percentage I would want.

Here are some interesting articles on the calculation of royalties and related issues. I suggest you read them to get some background.


I have heard that 5% of the cover price is a common percentage paid to authors. My approach would be to ask the publisher what he normally pays authors, and not to accept anything lower than 3% of the book's cover price (but don't tell him in advance how low you're willing to go).

I'm not sure if author's royalties are split between the author and the translator, or if the translator gets the same percentage of the author, but in your case it sounds as if you would be regarded as the author, and the real author would get nothing. You already have permission from the original publisher, but you may also need permission from the original author (although this is for the new publisher to worry about and figure out, not you).


Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
Comparative income of literary translators in Europe Oct 31, 2009

The percentage you can expect to be paid varies according to the country where you live/where the publisher is.

The European Council of Literary Translators' Associations has conducted a survey (published roughly a year ago) comparing the income of literary translators in Europe. Hope it can help you.


By the way, the fact that you are" not a professional translator" does not mean you have to be paid less. Don't even say you're not a "pro" to the publisher. You may not be a full time translator, but you have done a professional, good work, haven't you? Be proud of your work!



Monika Elisabeth Sieger  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:04
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
4-7.5% Oct 31, 2009

4-7.5% is normal for non-specialist books such as legal textbooks.
As other already suggested: do not accept an offer below 3%!
STart trading with 6-7% and hopefully you will get an acceptable rate in the end!


English to Russian
+ ...
estimate Oct 31, 2009

goal / number of (printed) copies = $$ per copy



Local time: 10:04
thanks Oct 31, 2009

Thanks to all for your advice & help


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what percentage should I ask, for book translation?

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