Common practice for translating books
Thread poster: Estelle Demontrond-Box

Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 21:39
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Aug 15, 2007

Hello to all of you and thank you for helping me understand the business a bit better!

I have been asked to translate a short document (600 words) and was a given a very reasonable fee for it. I however found out that it turned out to be a children's book and was wondering if there were any "rules" regarding fees, etc. when coming to literary work. Do you get paid per word as for other type of translations?

Thanks


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Daniel Šebesta  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 11:39
Member (2007)
English to Czech
+ ...
Overall fee Aug 15, 2007

Hi Estelle,

I used to do quite a lot of book editing for a Czech publisher. We always agreed on an overall fee for the whole book, no matter what the word-count was. I am aware that pricing for editing may be a little different than it is for translation. However, as I understand it, this particular publisher uses an overall fee also with original authors and translators.

This was just an example though. If you are satisfied with the amount offered by your client, I believe it's absolutely okay to use a word rate. This way, you can keep better track of how much you really earn for a certain volume of work.

HTH,

Daniel


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
600 Words Aug 15, 2007

You translated 600 words for a reasonable fee you accepted. That was the only rule; your agreement with your client.

I hope you're not thinking of suing for royalties or something like that.


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Robert Tucker
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:39
German to English
+ ...
Copyright Aug 15, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

You translated 600 words for a reasonable fee you accepted. That was the only rule; your agreement with your client.

I hope you're not thinking of suing for royalties or something like that.


But would translating on a per word basis constitute selling your translation copyright? Is it legally possible to sell a copyright? Supposing the publisher decided not to publish the book would you then be free to find a publisher that would (whether you had been paid on a per word basis or otherwise)?


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Anne Patteet  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:39
English to French
+ ...
Hi Estelle Aug 15, 2007

I think that if you search in the forums under "copyrights" or "royalties" you should find a good deal of information. If not for this book, then for the next one... Good luck.

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Agua  Identity Verified
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
Authorship Aug 15, 2007

Hello again,

In Spain if you translate literary works, the translator has rights over the resulting work, and there is economic rights which can be waived or negotiated, but moral rights (for example, public recognition or mentioning the name of the translator in the book) are unwaivable, I think...

You can find out about this stuff with PEN and other writers associations, I believe.

Best,

Mar


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
Rights Aug 16, 2007

Hi, Robert. I knpw nothing of the legalities involved, but in my own case, when I do a translation and I am paid my fee for it, it then belongs to the party who paid for it, lock stock and barrel.

I do not retain any copyright or any rights at all to it, I consider it to be a done deal.

If I wished to do otherwise, then I would spell it out in a contract, but I have never done so.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:39
English to Dutch
+ ...
Copyright: different for different countries Aug 16, 2007

Copyright issues are different in different countries.
E.g., the artistic rights (have your name on it, the right to make changes, the right to give permission for performances) are not waivable in several European countries - that means, even if you wanted to, you can't sell them. Economic rights (the right to make money from the product) however, are waivable/sellable.
In the US, this difference doesn't exist.

If I understand it correctly however, there always HAS to be an explicit agreement to pass over rights, or else they rights are NOT passed over. However, that too may be different in different countries.

Not every country has the same laws...


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Holly Behl
United States
Local time: 04:39
Spanish to English
Not even the right to recognition? Sep 9, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:


I do not retain ...any rights at all to it...



Does this also include the right to have your name on the cover and/or title page? I am working on a book translation contract and I personally wouldn't care for any rights to it, however I feel it's to my benefit professionally and will enhance my credibility to ensure my name is on the book. From what I gather from PEN, the translator's name has to be on the title page if the name is to be included in the catalogue information for the book.


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Igor Anikeev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:39
English to Russian
+ ...
Book translation here Oct 3, 2007

Hope this will be helpful.

Here in Russia it's usual for publishers to count the translator's work in "author spans" (40,000 chars, including spaces and punctuation). They usually purchase the rights for a limited amount of time (2,5,10 years --- it's all indicated in the agreement). The "non-material" rights do not get transferred, so one is to expect one's name as a translator of a published book.

Igor


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Common practice for translating books

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