Translation of books - percentage on sale
Thread poster: giodiomede

giodiomede  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:15
French to Italian
+ ...
Sep 9, 2016

Hi everyone,

for a potential translation of a book in different languages, I have been asked a quote.
I don't know the details yet, like how many pages or the subject matter of the book.
The potential client has mentioned he is thinking of an association with the translator for a "percentage on sales".
I don't usually work in this sector (books) and don't know anything about rates.
I guess there could be a copyright for the translation and may there should be some credits in the book mentioning the name of the translator.

Could you please give me some guidelines for quoting.

Thank you in advance.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Natalia Pedrosa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:15
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
25% on sales Sep 9, 2016

Hi giodiomede,

I recently translated a book in which they give me a 25% of the sales twice a year.

HTH.

Regards,
N.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

giodiomede  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:15
French to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How do I check sales Sep 9, 2016

I forgot to mention that this potential client is in Australia and I am in Italy.
How can I get control on the sales and check that I get the agreed amount?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:15
German to English
25% !? Sep 9, 2016

25% seems extraordinarily high. Authors don't even usually get that much in royalties, and they will also get a cut from foreign sales, so the publisher would be paying 25% to the translator and then a cut for the author, too.

The German association of literary translators has worked out a price range (a combination of up front money and then a percentage of sales, which is often around 1-4%, I believe), but I have also worked out contracts for books that only had a lump sum and contracts that only had a percentage of sales (although nothing near 25% - think closer to half of that).

I just don't want you to get any unrealistic expectations. I'm sure it's very dependent on your language pair, though. Is there a literary translation association in either of the languages that you can ask?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Tread VERY carefully Sep 9, 2016

giodiomede wrote:
I don't know the details yet, like how many pages or the subject matter of the book.

Well, number of pages can perhaps be considered a detail, but the subject matter is just a little bit important. Do you even know if it's to be a technical work or a literary one? Also, you say it's for translating into "different languages". Does that mean you're going to be reversing your pair and translating into two or more of your source languages? Maybe that's fine with you; I don't mean that to imply that you can't do it. I'm just worried about his motivation if he's the one who initiated this contact. Did the client contact you, someone who has no experience translating books, out of the blue? If so, it could well be a scam - be aware of that.

The potential client has mentioned he is thinking of an association with the translator for a "percentage on sales".
I don't usually work in this sector (books) and don't know anything about rates.
I guess there could be a copyright for the translation and may there should be some credits in the book mentioning the name of the translator.

Well, a discussion on rates hardly seems appropriate, as you aren't going to be paid one! You certainly can't live on credits.

I advise you to ask yourself a few questions:
- Has the book sold a lot of copies in its original language?
- How much will he be selling it for?
- Can he give any justification for thinking it's likely to sell well in the other languages?
- Is he going to have it published by a reputable house, or is he self-publishing? (Check up on how many self-published books earn any money for their authors, let alone their translators)
- Will you actually know how many copies the book has sold, and will you be able to chase him if he doesn't hand over your percentage?

I'm sure there are a lot of other questions, but that's probably enough to be going on with. Except for one last one:

- Can you afford to translate this book once, or multiple times, for free? Because that's exactly what might turn out to be the case.

(Edited to clear up messed-up earlier edit.)

[Edited at 2016-09-09 16:24 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Don't do it. Sep 9, 2016

Very few books make enough money for you to profit from royalties. I've translated a couple of dozen books, and I always get a fixed fee.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

giodiomede  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:15
French to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Need to process!!! Sep 13, 2016

Hi guys,

just for clarification, the potential client is a person I know (not close) and since he is aware I am a translator, he asked how much it would cost to translate is books. Apparently he has written 10, but I had a feeling he doesn't want to spend a lot on translation.

I would not translate all languages, in fact none of them as he does not need Italian (my mother tongue). I was thinking to outsource, although in my circle I don't have anybody with the combinations he needs. So this could be very time consuming.

So there is a lot to process before even thinking to make a quote!!

Thanks for all your inputs and have a great day!

Giovanna


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:15
German to English
national associations of literary translators Sep 13, 2016

Most countries have a major national association of literary translators in addition to the most important traditional translator association(s). Most or all of these provide searchable lists of their members and that is the first place I would look.

The German association, for example, is the VdÜ /http://www.literaturuebersetzer.de/). I've forgotten the name of the French association (not the sft), but it's easy to find with Google.

It makes no sense to outsource this project for him, because you don't really have anything to contribute and it doesn't really have anything to offer you except a small cut of a one-time, poorly paid, and probably poorly thought-out project. I am assuming that he is a self-publisher; if not, then tell him to ask his publisher(s) for guidance. And he really ought to start out with one language and not take everything on at once.

If he wants you to help him organize this, then you could help him set things up at your hourly rate, but as an actual outsourcer, you would be liable for the quality of the translators' and editors' work and dealing with all of the problems that come up.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My personal opinion, FWIW Sep 13, 2016

giodiomede wrote:
the potential client is a person I know (not close)
since he is aware I am a translator, he asked how much it would cost to translate is books
I had a feeling he doesn't want to spend a lot on translation.
I would not translate all languages, in fact none of them
I was thinking to outsource, although in my circle I don't have anybody with the combinations he needs. So this could be very time consuming.

If you outsource the work then your contract with the client will be entirely separate from the one you draw up with a translator. And then there will presumably be yet another contract, this time with a proofreader. You will be bound by whatever is written in those contracts, whatever happens between you and your client.

Some information - just to give you an idea: I recently proofread a novel for a German "hobby" author who wanted to self-publish the English version of her first-ever book. She'd had it translated by a family member who's a professional translator but was working out of her native language. Now, I don't speak German so our agreement was based simply on proofreading the target text - a much quicker process than comparing two texts. I charged her EUR 1,000. No royalties. I hope it will succeed as it has my name on it, but I've been paid for my time. Not as much as if I'd earn normally for the many, many hours spent on it, but our agreement was that I could take months and months, fitting this work into spare moments that would otherwise have been less profitable.

My personal opinion is that you should drop all idea of this mountain of work for probably zero payment. It really doesn't sound like the sort of proposition any professional translator should be considering.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Translation of books - percentage on sale

Advanced search







LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search