As a translator, what should I charge a publisher?
August 10, 2017 12:12 AM   Subscribe

I translated a book, and the original publisher wants to use my translation to try to sell the foreign-language rights. What should I charge?

I have been a professional commercial translator for ten years. In my spare time, I translated a popular Dutch young-adult novel into English, and sent it to the original Dutch publisher. Now they would like to use my translation and synopsis to market the English-language rights to other publishers in the U.K. and USA. If successful, the English publishers are under no obligation to go ahead with my translation - they may read it, buy the rights, then have someone else re-translate it (although this is unlikely, as I have an accreditation that means the publisher effectively gets the translation for free from the Dutch government, but still, it could happen).

To use my translation for their marketing, the original publisher has offered me 10 percent of the advance payment they will receive from any publisher who purchases the rights, which they say will work out to be between 250 and 3000 euros, depending on the expected circulation. Does this seem fair? I am completely new to this and have virtually no network, so I would appreciate any advice :-S
posted by Brentusfirmus to Work & Money (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You familiar with Maybe a search there might help? I believe you can also ask a question there, despite not being a member. Given's audience, you may well get some advice there.
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:39 AM on August 10, 2017

>250 and 3000 euros

That's a pretty big range. PEN's translation FAQ addresses some of these questions. At present conversion rates, looks like UK PEN translators expect the equivalent of US$1.30/1000 words. US PEN says that's mid-range of what their writers consider acceptable. So consider length and complexity of translation you did and your hourly rate and compute from there. Since you approached them and not the other way around, you have somewhat less leverage.

As you note, UK/US publisher makes the call about who does their translation. Going forward, if you're accredited, a better place for you to be in the process might be to be the Dutch translator they call after they've bought the rights to a title. So maybe look at this project as how you get your foot in that door, if you like doing this kind of work.
posted by nohattip at 7:51 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

That should be about US$117/1000 words, not $1.30.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:55 AM on August 13, 2017

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