Royalties
Thread poster: Jonathan Norris

Jonathan Norris  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jan 30, 2015

Hi All!

Writing today with an interesting question on the topic of royalties.

However, the questions comes with a bit of a twist. We're all familiar with what a royalties clause looks like for a book to be published, but this question is a bit different than that.

The request I got is to translate a website for a Spanish online retailer, as they attempt to crack the American market. When they do, that represents a brand new and lucrative revenue stream for them, made possible by my catchy and sparkling translation. Do I deserve anything on the back end from their boost in sales?

Can anyone who might have been involved in a deal like this suggest if I should try to extract a percentage on top of my translation fees? I'm thinking even a fraction of a percent on their new sales would be substantial. Any advice?

Thanks, and happy translating!!


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Set fee Jan 30, 2015

I say translate it for a set fee and let it go at that. First, the client may well not accept such a proposal. Second, such a proposal would not be convenient for you either, because you would have no way of confirming their sales data, etc. as a basis for royalties.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Perhaps a nice idea... Jan 30, 2015

Totally impracticable one, though. If you think your translations will be worth it, increase your rates.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:55
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
And... Jan 30, 2015

... what if they don't crack the American market???

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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 08:55
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Raise your rates Jan 30, 2015

I agree with the colleagues - just raise your rates if you are sure that you can deliver an absolutely outstanding translation.

If I were retailer, I would have never agreed to paying royalties to a translator:).

And another thing, asking for royalties in this particular case seems a bit unethical to me - the idea is not yours, you have not invested any money into the product and marketing campaign, so why should you be entitled to the royalties?


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 19:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dreams ... Jan 30, 2015

I’ve done my share of translating high-value source texts. And I’ve done my share of dreaming...

At the age of 25, while plodding through the 20,000-word translation of the technical section of my client’s bid to provide exclusive broadcast coverage of the up-coming Olympic Games, I calculated (with inside knowledge of the likely value of the contract - close to a billion USD) that if my client’s bid was accepted by the IOC I could take early retirement on the strength of the value of just the first three words of the first sentence of my translation.

Alas, that’s not how it works .

It’s all very well dreaming about the huge fortune you are (perhaps…) drawing into your client’s coffers; but the fact is that the true value of your work will be judged not on its merits as a piece of successful marketing communication, but on the consequences if, perchance, you get it wrong.

Suggestion: Go for your usual rate and be thankful.


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Jonathan Norris  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jan 30, 2015

Henry Hinds wrote:

I say translate it for a set fee and let it go at that. First, the client may well not accept such a proposal. Second, such a proposal would not be convenient for you either, because you would have no way of confirming their sales data, etc. as a basis for royalties.


Thanks for taking the time reply Henry, that makes sense. I appreciate your help!


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Jonathan Norris  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jan 30, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Totally impracticable one, though. If you think your translations will be worth it, increase your rates.


My rates are fine, thanks! A young man like me has to look toward the future, though. I'm still learning the business side of things, but sharing the profits I help other people make definitely interests me. Thanks for your reply.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 06:55
Chinese to English
Consultancy Jan 31, 2015

I've never heard of website royalties, but the internet remains a brave new commercial world, so never say never.

I think the kind of thing you're talking about fits under the rubric of marketing consultancy, and it's certainly worth plenty of money. But you will need to demonstrate to the client why you're worth it. Either you have a track record of blockbuster marketing copy, or you can show with research or market surveys that a certain kind of linguistic approach is most likely to work.

If you want to take a percentage (however small) of their sales, then that's in effect taking on part of the business - being like a partner - and partners have to buy in. You might buy in with your labour, i.e. do the translation for free and only take a royalty.

There is nothing wrong with making an offer. If they're a small enterprise, and you demonstrate enthusiasm and commitment to their business, they might be flattered and pleased to try working with you.


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