Payment for Book Translation. One fee, royalties??
Thread poster: Yaron Dahan
Yaron Dahan
Local time: 00:27
French to English
+ ...
Mar 14, 2006

Hi there. I've been approached by someone for a translation job of a book and I'm not sure how to price it. I've done mostly document translations until now, and know more or less how to price that, but what aout the book? On the one hand, I'd much rather translate fiction than documents, but on the other, if I am to do a proper job, it will take me five times the amount of time. Do you charge per word? per page? per book? Also is it normal for a translator to get some royalties on the book or not? I've never done this and ssince its such a huge project, don't want to mess up either the quote I give or the job.

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telefpro
Local time: 02:57
Portuguese to English
+ ...
per page or lumpsum Mar 15, 2006

Yaron Dahan wrote:

Hi there. I've been approached by someone for a translation job of a book and I'm not sure how to price it. I've done mostly document translations until now, and know more or less how to price that, but what aout the book? On the one hand, I'd much rather translate fiction than documents, but on the other, if I am to do a proper job, it will take me five times the amount of time. Do you charge per word? per page? per book? Also is it normal for a translator to get some royalties on the book or not? I've never done this and ssince its such a huge project, don't want to mess up either the quote I give or the job.


You could opt for 'per page basis' or just charge a lumpsum amount , it must not work out less for you.
I did once, but it is tedious and fastidious.
About royalties I am not able to say much. What, if the book flops? I mean the translated version.
All the best.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:27
Member
English to Turkish
Depends on the client type & country Mar 15, 2006

Hi Yaron,

Have you been approached by a professional/corporate publisher or a person? For the latter, I cannot comment, but for the former, you may seek advice from book translators located in the same jurisdiction and publishing environment as you are.

Needless to say, you shouldn't ever start or undertake work without a contract, which should guarantee 1. your indefinite rights over the translated copy, 2. publishers' liability a) to give you credit, b) to print an agreed amount of copies within a specified time, c) to pay you royalties with every print. Royalties are paid over the number of printed copies, not sales, so there's no risk of 'flop': you are not the publisher's business partner and are not supposed to share their business risk. However, if they make new editions, of course you are entitled to repeat payments. You may need to negotiate for the percentage. A down payment is also reasonable to ask for, considering the length of time you'll have to dedicate to this work. Put your best negotiation skills at work in that one, too

Good luck & best regards,
Özden




Note Having read bohy's contribution, I need to add: It seems I have used a wrong term (just checked the dictionary, and right, royalty means a share over the sales or profit). However, what I mean is a share, a percentage over the copies printed. This has been how book translations are priced in my experience, and it works in a right and fair way. So, I agree with the others who say 'Don't accept royalties', it's but sharing the risk of a business that is not your own. But make a contract for a percentage over the number of printed copies, to be repeated at each new edition. This is the way it should be.

[Edited at 2006-03-15 10:03]


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:27
English to French
+ ...
One fee... with a part before starting. Mar 15, 2006

I have translated several computer books, and it was never paid as royalties. Publishers would love that, but it is not your interest. I have also written a (small) computer book (which was paid with a minimum fixed amount, plus royalties), but it turned out to be a flop : I did not get much royalties, and altogether it didn't pay for my work.
The contracts for my translations set a payment divided in thirds : one when signing the contract, one when giving back the work, and one when the book is published. Even like that, you end up waiting for your money... so don't try royalties, this is my advice ! Unless, maybe, you are translating a real best-seller !


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Yaron Dahan
Local time: 00:27
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Mar 15, 2006

Thanks for the info and advice I have a couple of “follow-up” questions, and replies. Actually, I have been approached by the author, who wishes to have the book translated in order to send it to publishers here, thinking (correctly) that the translation will give her better access to the market. Now, I was definitely planning on asking for a sum for the translation, but the question is, is it reasonable for me to also ask for royalties, or shares and have you ever had a contract like that, and what percentage?

Bohy, you mentioned that you have translated several computer books, but I wonder if it is different for novels, in which the “beauty” of a text becomes a vital aspect, and therefore the translator might perhaps be considered as a “creator” of the text also. I’m not sure though, and that is why I ask.

Also final question. What should I charge per word/page? Should it be higher than document translation? (which takes a lot less time) or not because the project is so big?

Anyway, thanks a bunch for your advice so far, and keep it coming!!


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Anders Olsson
Local time: 23:27
English to Swedish
+ ...
Yes, it depends on the country Mar 15, 2006

Hi Yaron


Needless to say, you shouldn't ever start or undertake work without a contract, which should guarantee 1. your indefinite rights over the translated copy, 2. publishers' liability a) to give you credit, b) to print an agreed amount of copies within a specified time, c) to pay you royalties with every print.


I also believe this depends on which country. Recently I was in contact with the Swedish Writers’ (and Translators´) Union and asked about these matters. Among other things they said that publishers of translated books in Sweden usually don´t accept any contract with royalty payment to the translator. It seems that you usually pay per word (or per 1000 words).
I guess the usual way of paying the translator for these kind of jobs might also be different in the US than in Germany. Perhaps it would be an idea to check with any Translators´Union or Association in the US.

I fully agree that you should have a contract with the other details mentioned above before starting translation.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:27
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Some further advice Mar 15, 2006

Yaron Dahan wrote:

Thanks for the info and advice I have a couple of “follow-up” questions, and replies. Actually, I have been approached by the author, who wishes to have the book translated in order to send it to publishers here, thinking (correctly) that the translation will give her better access to the market. Now, I was definitely planning on asking for a sum for the translation, but the question is, is it reasonable for me to also ask for royalties, or shares and have you ever had a contract like that, and what percentage?



Hello Yaron,

your situation is not the same, but similar to, the one on the following posting - please see my reply there:
http://www.proz.com/post/312953#312953

Good luck!

Tina


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Yaron Dahan
Local time: 00:27
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks again, but what price? Mar 16, 2006

Tina and anders.. thanks again. so, royalties is not the norm, huh?? Ah well, too bad. Oh well, at least its cleared up.

Okay I still have one more question, if you don't mind. I was sent the book. Its about 47,000 words. What would be a reasonable charge for this? And what's a reasonable amount to ask up front? a percentage? 1,000?? 2,000??
please help.

Thanks.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:27
Member
English to Turkish
Check the ALTA site Mar 16, 2006

Yaron,

Again, I believe whether 'royalties' [in the sense I used above= ...% of the no. of copies printed x cover price] is the norm or not much depends on the country: in mine, it is. So that you are located in the USA, why don't you seek help from the ALTA. Just check this page on their website first. Probably the info under the title "Alta Guides" at the bottom of the page would help you.

Best of luck,
Özden


Yaron Dahan wrote:

Tina and anders.. thanks again. so, royalties is not the norm, huh?? Ah well, too bad. Oh well, at least its cleared up.

Okay I still have one more question, if you don't mind. I was sent the book. Its about 47,000 words. What would be a reasonable charge for this? And what's a reasonable amount to ask up front? a percentage? 1,000?? 2,000??
please help.

Thanks.


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Yaron Dahan
Local time: 00:27
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
interesting, but... Mar 16, 2006

Özden Arıkan wrote:

Yaron,

Again, I believe whether 'royalties' [in the sense I used above= ...% of the no. of copies printed x cover price] is the norm or not much depends on the country: in mine, it is. So that you are located in the USA, why don't you seek help from the ALTA. Just check this page on their website first. Probably the info under the title "Alta Guides" at the bottom of the page would help you.

Best of luck,
Özden



I just checked out the site, and there is useful informtaiton, but most of it is based on a translator-initiated translation wheras in my case, its the author who is initiating the request for translation. And once again, I didn't see any cold hard numbers. Like what percentage would be normal? And this is on top of translation cost, isn't it?

I apologize for so many questions, but I'm sort of new to this and I feel its important that I get it right.


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