Payment practice, thanks
Thread poster: KuinWang

KuinWang  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:12
Chinese to English
+ ...
May 1, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Got a proposal of translating a book from English to Mandarin. The agent proposed a payment method in three installments: first payment of 30% at the beginning of the project, another 30% in the middle of the project, and last payment of 40% when I deliver the final work.

Is this a standard practice? Or what's the standard practice?
Is there another standard payment structure such as 40%, 40%, 20%?
Please kindly advise.

Thanks a lot for your help.
Best regards,



Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:12
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
There is no standard practice May 1, 2017

Payment in instalments of some kind is not unusual for a large project like a book, which may take months to translate.

It is most important that you are happy with the overall rate, i.e. the total you are going to get, and you are as certain as you can be that the client really has the money and will pay.

You need something to live on while you are working on the book, especially if you are not able to take on other, smaller jobs in between, but how you arrange that is up to you and the client.

[Edited at 2017-05-02 12:51 GMT]


English to Russian
+ ...
contract May 1, 2017

Kuin, it seems to be a serious project, why don't you consult a lawyer?

Also mind the royalties clause, if any.



Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:12
Member (2007)
+ ...
It's all down to negotiation May 2, 2017

What you don't want to do is agree to wait for 100% at the end of the job if it's really big and is going to take a long time. You need to receive a payment from them in advance to establish that a) they are bona fide clients, and b) that there are no problems with the payment procedure. And then you need money coming in at regular intervals to live on.

If you want a 40, 40, 20 arrangement you can state that those are your terms. But 30, 30, 40 isn't unreasonable, IMO.

Do make sure the deadline allows you to accept work from your regular clients. You don't want to lose them on account of a one-off job.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:12
French to English
Publishing and other lengthy projects May 2, 2017

I've done a small number of books. I have never had any problem with obtaining 30% upfront then two further instalments of 30% at agreed appropriate intervals.

Indeed, I work the same way with larger non-book translation projects too. One third upfront for very large jobs, or even medium-sized jobs if it is a new client. I know what my cut-off limit is, and I will only risk working up to the value of X, assessing each job/client on a case-by-case basis.

[Edited at 2017-05-02 09:02 GMT]


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Payment practice, thanks

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