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Should a translator accept non payment for translating a self help book?
Thread poster: evelyn beltrán

evelyn beltrán
United States
Local time: 21:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 23, 2015

A contract will be provided that states the translator will receive a percentage of book sales .

[Edited at 2015-12-23 15:16 GMT]


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 02:30
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No Dec 23, 2015

I wouldn’t accept! What if the book is a flop instead of a mega hit? You are in no position to determine how well the book sells, and you can never be sure the client is telling the truth.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Are you doing it as a job or a hobby? Dec 23, 2015

evelyn beltrán wrote:
A contract will be provided that states the translator will receive a percentage of book sales

There are a lot of people on the Internet who treat translation more as a hobby than a profession. If it brings in some money, that's great; if it doesn't, you've still got your name in print (perhaps) and it's been fun doing it.

Just remember that for every hour spent translating a book that may not bring you a cent, you're unavailable for your regular clients. Clearly, for a professional translator, that makes absolutely zero sense.


 

Gad Kohenov  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 04:30
English to Hebrew
+ ...
You need to ask for a price per source/target word + a percentage of books sold Dec 23, 2015

Otherwise you will be financing someone. How would you know how many books were really sold? Do you have a mechanism for that?
Stick to commercial translations. You will make more money. Literary translations are also much more difficult to perform.

G.K.


 

R Farhat  Identity Verified
Lebanon
Local time: 04:30
Member (2004)
English to Arabic
+ ...
No Dec 23, 2015

Hello

As Teresa and Sheila said,

there are basically two kinds of translated books
1. books where you receive your considerable fee for translating 300k-500k, plus 10 to 30 copies (+/-), no matter it sold or not.
2. books with strong marketing and advertising campaign by SL-TL publisher(s), such as Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter, in those back days, no matter you get your fees/percentage or not.

I'd go for 1.

Unless you have considered:
-does the writer have a solid readership in the target language?
-'Self help' in something popular?
-Print or Electronic book?
-Word count, research time, etc.

Regards.


 

evelyn beltrán
United States
Local time: 21:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all for your wisdom as it will help me make a decision. Dec 23, 2015

...

 

Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 03:30
German to Swedish
+ ...
They don't believe the book will sell Dec 23, 2015

evelyn beltrán wrote:

A contract will be provided that states the translator will receive a percentage of book sales .


If they were reasonably sure of high sales, they'd pay you a lump sum.
As simple as that.


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:30
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
No Dec 23, 2015

No.

 

Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:30
English to German
+ ...
Sure. Self-help book Dec 23, 2015

No, I wouldn't do it.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Only if Dec 23, 2015

Q. Should a translator accept non payment for translating a self help book?

A. Only if the book is entitled "How to find deeper meaning in life by working for no payment".

[Edited at 2015-12-23 20:11 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never Dec 23, 2015

Agree a payment upon delivery (ideally also a payment in advance and partial paymenta as you deliver parts of the book), plus a percentage of book sales if you wish. Never accept 0 euros for your work, as most probably you will not see a penny in the end. Has happened to most of us at some stage in our career.

 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Is the book called... Dec 23, 2015

"Cómo Usted puede evitar ser engañado" ?

 

nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:30
English to French
+ ...
Risk management Dec 24, 2015

What are the pros and cons:
Does the book stands a chance to become a bestseller? Like, the author is already a celibrity in the target market or the book is already a bestseller in its original language?
Are your translating as a hobby (= for free)?
How are you to know the number of sales to claim your share?
Can you afford to work for free?
What is the deadline? Does it allow enough extra time to work for your regular clients?
Why do you think that the publisher does not want to pay you a fee for the translation: is he not confident that the book will be a succes? Why should you, as a translator, be the only one to carry the risk of a commercial flop?
.....
YOU have the answers to decide.
We, on this forum, have only the questions.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 03:30
German to Serbian
+ ...
The author a celebrity? Dec 24, 2015

The best-selling author already has a "publishing team" including translators, revisers, etc. They do not go around offering random people to work for free. They commonly work with publishing houses in the target countries which then provide their own translators.

OP, just tell them you will gladly accept their royalties along with your base pay which is XY per word/hour.


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 01:30
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Agree Dec 24, 2015

Joakim Braun wrote:
If they were reasonably sure of high sales, they'd pay you a lump sum.
As simple as that.

Exactly. If they thought it would make a ton of money, they certainly wouldn't want to share any of that sweet loot with a translator. Ask for a fair wage plus royalties on top. If they balk, which they almost certainly will, all the better for you.

Unless of course the book is so wonderful and marvelous that it totally transformed your life and you want the whole world to read it... but if that were the case, you wouldn't be here asking us about it.

[Edited at 2015-12-24 22:20 GMT]


 
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