Translation fees according to the book format
Thread poster: kinteba

kinteba  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:39
English to French
Aug 10, 2012

Dear all,
I have to submit an offer regarding the translation of a book that will be sold both in printed and ebook format. I have agreed to be paid through a % of the sales proceeds. Could someone give me some advice on the following :
- what rates should I ask for (in % of the sales)?
- should I ask for a different rate according to the format (print or ebook)?
- how can I make sure to receive a proper and reliable feedback from the editor on the actual sales figures?

Thanks and best regards


Effie Simiakaki  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:39
English to Greek
+ ...
Tricky! Aug 10, 2012

Dear Kinteba,
I really don't know whether charging translation fees according to book sales is to your best interest. And, as you pointed out, how can you be sure about the actual sales numbers the book achieved?
If I were you, I would certainly charge by the word/page.
Good luck!


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
Seconded Aug 10, 2012

I would certainly second what Effie says.


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:39
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi. This might help you. Aug 10, 2012

Many authors want the translator to sign off their rights to royalties. The royalties are something that may work to the translator's advantage, or may not. Here is some information that might be helpful.

[Edited at 2012-08-10 17:09 GMT]


ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:39
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
% of the Sales Proceeds Aug 10, 2012

"I have agreed to be paid through a % of the sales proceeds."

It looks like you really do not have a choice other than the above. I would start somewhat high, and if that seems to be too high, then go down a little bit. For example, you can start by asking 20 - 25 % of the sales proceeds (at least). They will probably say that is too high. Then, you can tell them this is your first time (getting paid through a percentage of the sales proceeds), and you can go down to 18 % or something. Basic negotiation skills, really.

To keep things simple, I would not ask for different rates for print and e-book formats. After all, it does not make a difference as far as translation goes. I believe print and e-book formats will have different sales profiles.

[Edited at 2012-08-10 17:15 GMT]


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 05:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Too optimistic Aug 11, 2012

The percentage you will get as a translator is going to be very low, maybe just a few percents. Don't forget that, after the costs of production, advertising, sales, etc. are taken off, the publisher takes the largest percentage, then there will be a percentage for the author, and you are at the bottom of the list. Even the author often doesn't get more than 5%. I agree with others, royalties may not be in your best interest. Unless the book is going to be hugely popular, you may be better off just getting paid for the translation.


texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:39
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
+ 2 Aug 11, 2012

Henry Hinds wrote:

I would certainly second what Effie says.

PS. Ciao Henry!


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:39
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
The percentage Aug 11, 2012

.. is one thing. If you are lucky you might get 2 - 3 % of the sales proceeds, which could range anywhere from (currency is not relevant here) 0.00 - 4digit amounts (think Harry Potter).

The main issue is: how can you control the actual sales figures?

Sure, the publisher will give you his/her word to be honest (even include this in the contract to give you the accurate figures). But this can only work in an environment of absolute trust. I am not saying that publishers like to cheat, but you are in your location and the publisher is...wherever on this globe.

One way would be to request insight to all sales proceeds from "your" book. But it's highly unlikely that a publisher would permit this. Perhaps this link can help you in your decision making process:

The safest way is, of course, to get paid at your normal per word/page rate.


[Edited at 2012-08-11 14:01 GMT]


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Translation fees according to the book format

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