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Translate ebooks in exchange for revenue share
Thread poster: barelon

barelon
Spain
Local time: 09:41
May 14, 2013

There has been a recent explosion of self-published titles in the ebook market, particularly in the Amazon store through the KDP self-publishing platform. Some of these titles are selling really well and a large number of the Amazon top sellers are self-published titles. Though the ebook market is much smaller in languages other than english, it is growing steadily and there will soon be a huge international market for ebooks, specially now that Amazon is opening new stores in many countries.

I expect that many authors of english books which are doing well on the Amazon store might like to publish translated versions of their books on the different language specific Amazon stores. Inversely, some books which sell well in other languages could sell many units in the larger english store. So I expect that there may be a large opportunity for translation of self-published ebooks.

The problem here is that most of the self-publishing authors lack the finantial means to pay the usual fees that would be required to translate their work into many different languages. They lack the resources of a publishing house, specially when they are starting.

I wonder if there would be any translators that would be ready to provide translations for self-published ebooks in exchange for a share of the revenue generated by these translated books. I am not talking about a small royalty but rather a large percentage of the revenues that the author received.

I understand that it is quite risky to do this kind of work, where you are not guaranteed the payment you will receive, but I can think of some reasons why some people may be interested:
- If the book sells really well you could get a much larger payment than what you could receive as a lump payment
- If you really love the original material you may be willing to do this out of personal interest
- It can provide a secondary "background" recurring income, not very large but lasting in time
- It may allow you to work in genres or areas of expertise outside of your standard work, increasing your experience and your curriculum.

So, my questions are:

- Do you think that you may be interested in translating a self-published ebook in exchange for a share of the revenues generated by this translation? If you think you would, what would be the revenue share that you would like to receive?
- If you are not ready to accept a full revenue share system, would you be interested in lowering your standard rates by a substantial amount in exchange for a (smaller) revenue share? What kind of percentages would you expect in this case?

Many thanks in advance for your comments!!!

Carlos


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 07:41
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
I'd rather have $1000 today than $5000 over 10 years May 14, 2013

For the first job I'd definitely want to be paid up front. If everything works out and the book sells well and the author comes back for more, we can discuss other options. As the proverb goes, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Revenue sharing is just too much hassle. Who decides who gets how much, how do I know they're being honest with me, how long will they have to keep paying me, what if the author drops dead (hey, it could happen!), etc etc.


 

The Misha
Local time: 03:41
Russian to English
+ ...
Total non-starter May 15, 2013

What you are basically suggesting is that the translator go into publishing business with the author, which, as I am sure you will agree, is something totally different from selling a professional service. Personally, I see very little attraction in going into business I know almost nothing about with someone I have never met and who on top of it all probably lives in a different jurisdiction where I have little or no recourse.

 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:41
German to English
No profit May 15, 2013

Most self-published books sell only a few hundred copies (as do many books put out in print versions). Assuming a 20% share (and this is probably overly optimistic by a magnitude) on a book priced at (optimistically) $5.00, with sales of 500 units, the share would be an astounding $500. Assuming the book has 50,000 translated words, this would be a low rate, even in the 3rd World The book would have to be a best seller along the lines of "50 Shades of Grey" to make any money for the translator.

For a realistic idea of the selling price of ebooks, see
http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/deeply-discounted-big-six-ebooks-pop-on-best-seller-list-driving-down-average-ebook-price/

No translator in his/her right mind would go for a revenue deal on a $3.00 book.


 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:41
Danish to English
+ ...
100 % of revenues until my fee is covered, then 10 % after that May 15, 2013

I'm not in translation for fun or altruism, but I do see a potential in the e-book market and your plan to offer this kind of translation service.

Could you explain a little more about how you would set up such deals, please?

If the subject was sufficiently interesting and the translation deadline was very flexible, I might consider this kind of job. But I would want my standard fee for the entire job, and then royalties after that. This seems the only fair deal to me, after all, I would be carrying 100 % of the risk until the book actually started selling, wouldn't I?


 

Cristina Lo Bianco  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:41
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
In my spare time if I liked the book May 15, 2013

I would consider it like something between a hobby and a way to improve my skills and do it in my spare time.

A share between 30% and 50% would be acceptable.

Ciao,
Cristina


 

Terry Richards
France
Local time: 09:41
French to English
+ ...
Where's the risk? May 15, 2013

Obviously, you would only pick books that are already selling well in their original language. This minimises the risk.

I would think a 50/50 split would be realistic. This is "free" money for the author as they would be selling books that they wouldn't otherwise have sold and they have no initial outlay.

For translations into English, it would seem reasonable to assume that the translated book would sell for the same price as the original and sell at least as many units. If half of what it has already sold would cover the cost of your time, it seems like a pretty safe bet to me.


 

Richard Foulkes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:41
German to English
+ ...
Interesting in principle May 15, 2013

Hi Carlos,

It's an interesting proposition but very hypothetical without any solid figures to consider.

I quite like the idea of having a 'product' with recurring income but I'm not very familiar with the e-book market. Perhaps you could elaborate with some worked examples of word counts / sales figures / fee structures etc. yourself and see what the response is.


 

Mihaela Buruiana  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 10:41
Member (2011)
English to Romanian
+ ...
My experience May 15, 2013

I have already translated one book to be published on Amazon, but I received the payment for my work in due time and was promised further benefits after publication. I don't know when / if the book will be published or if it will sell well, but I'm covered for my work. Otherwise, it would be too risky.
Anyway, I admit that I'm very interested in book translation and I am willing to lower my rates enough for the client to be able to pay and for me to get some payment for my work (in addition to experience and potential future "fame").
By the way, you have not indicated which languages we are talking about...


 

Sabrina Bruna  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:41
Member (2013)
English to Italian
+ ...
Interesting May 15, 2013

The proposal seems interesting for the reasons you have pointed out, so I would say yes, let's go for this proposal.
I would be ready to lower my standard rate of 20-30%, but definitively I would like to be paid once the translation is finished (I don't work for fur or altruism either!). Then if further benefits arrive, so much the better!


 

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:41
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Nice idea, but not very practical May 15, 2013

I am interested in the idea of translating e-books; as the OP says there has been an explosion in this area recently.

Unfortunately, the fact that there has been an explosion in the supply doesn't mean a corresponding demand.

It's become very easy to e-publish, but - with the exception of those odd break out titles - the corresponding audience for these books is almost entirely lacking.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Are Amazon thinking of helping, I wonder? May 15, 2013

Do you know if Amazon and similar businesses may be interested in setting up some interface whereby the money goes directly from Amazon to the translator? I'd be much happier with that arrangement than expecting the author to hand over part of the money they've received into their bank account.

Someone I've had forum communications with asked me about translating their e-book very recently. That was a non-starter as the book (a tourist guide book) is already doing well in English, but it would certainly appeal to a French readership. However, I remember the wordcount as something around 35,000 - not a labour of love for a few odd moments, although a German-speaking member of the family is proposing to do just that! They probably think it's a straightforward typing job: English word goes into the eye; German word comes out of the fingers.icon_smile.gif


 

svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:41
French to German
+ ...
Exactly what I was thinking, Sheila May 15, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Do you know if Amazon and similar businesses may be interested in setting up some interface whereby the money goes directly from Amazon to the translator? I'd be much happier with that arrangement than expecting the author to hand over part of the money they've received into their bank account.


That's exactly what I was thinking. It would be good to be able to keep track of sales and be able to claim the share due to the transaltor directly from Amazon (or whichever business that money might go to) without the author being involved in the transaction.

I would actually be quite interested if such a scheme was in place and if I would be able to translate at my own pace. Plus I would have to be interested in the book as such, so if anyone has any tourist guide books to translate into German...icon_wink.gif

Sheila Wilson wrote:They probably think it's a straightforward typing job: English word goes into the eye; German word comes out of the fingers.

icon_lol.gif


 

NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:41
Portuguese to English
Agree with Sheila and Inkweaver May 15, 2013

inkweaver wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Do you know if Amazon and similar businesses may be interested in setting up some interface whereby the money goes directly from Amazon to the translator? I'd be much happier with that arrangement than expecting the author to hand over part of the money they've received into their bank account.


That's exactly what I was thinking. It would be good to be able to keep track of sales and be able to claim the share due to the transaltor directly from Amazon (or whichever business that money might go to) without the author being involved in the transaction.

I would actually be quite interested if such a scheme was in place and if I would be able to translate at my own pace. Plus I would have to be interested in the book as such...


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:41
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What would the dragons say? May 15, 2013

OK so the proposal is that I put my time in (which is the same as money because if I were not translating this hypothetical e-book, I'd be earning money) to a business which may or may not work and for which I may or may not (depending on the system in place in practice) obtain a gain.

On the surface of it, I would say "I'm out" and I think that this would be the response were this idea to be presented on Dragon's Den as a business proposal too. However, it's all about whether I could see potential, in which case this would have to be analysed on a case-by-case basis, just as any business proposal is. There would need to be figures in place showing a convincing volume of sales in the original language and much more information. If I believed enough in the project, I would be inclined to make the same offer as Gitte, on the basis of loaning my work and for 100% of revenues until my fee is covered but only IF I believed in the project. After all, 100% of nothing is nothing.


 
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