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Old 12-18-2010, 08:54 AM   #16
DMSmillie
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Originally Posted by Soldim View Post
Most awkward, it seems that in most European countries the copyright of the translated work lies with the translator, even if paid an upfront lump sum.
I'm sure that could be, and is, taken care of in the contract - either by specifying that the translator is carrying out the work as a "work for hire", where the copyright rests with the person or company commissioning the work, or by specifically assigning all publishing rights in the translated work to the original author or publisher as appropriate for a specified period - in exactly the same way that an author signs over all or specific publishing rights in their work when they sign up with a publishing company.
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Old 12-18-2010, 09:41 AM   #17
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That sounds as very, very little to me. Those I know that translators get between 2k and 5k euro fixed for the translation of a standard fiction book, or some ~30% of royalties. Mostly, I've heard of publishers in the smaller, north european countries paying 1500-3000 euro for the publishing rights of a book--that pays the author and original publisher. The translators either also get an up-front payment, or a royalty, but I don't know how much.

Most awkward, it seems that in most European countries the copyright of the translated work lies with the translator, even if paid an upfront lump sum.

Offering 10% of the royalties for a country with between 5 and 15 million inhabitants won't make it worth for any translator to translate a book that won't be a bestseller. That's even more the case if there's not a publisher involved that takes care of the editing and formatting -- because this will take a translator even more time.

Looking from a different angle, a translator grosses between 20 and 30 k euro a year, if translating a book takes 1 month, ~2k euro should be the prospective income.
And your argument is precisely why most books don't get translated--there isn't much money in it unless the book has already proved popular. I'm lucky enough to have had one of my short stories translated into Greek by Emman George--but since it is ebook, finding an audience is...slow.

I have a few questions about translations for readers...but I should probably start a new thread so as to not derail this one...
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Old 12-18-2010, 02:09 PM   #18
Andrew H.
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In the non-publishing world, translators who do freelance translations for hire are typically paid around 10-15 cents/word. On this basis, the translation of a shorter novel would run about $7,500. Translators who do novels aren't typically paid on a per word basis, but the royalty agreement they reach will need to provide them with about this level of income.

Which may be out of reach for the typical indie author.

Note, too, that translation is not a mechanical process, and you probably want a translator with some literary talent to translate a fiction work. As an example, here are two translations of Dante (not the same passage, though):

[From Cary]

All ye, who in small bark have following sail'd,
Eager to listen, on the advent'rous track
Of my proud keel, that singing cuts its way,
Backward return with speed, and your own shores
Revisit, nor put out to open sea,
Where losing me, perchance ye may remain
Bewilder'd in deep maze. The way I pass
Ne'er yet was run: Minerva breathes the gale,
Apollo guides me, and another Nine
To my rapt sight the arctic beams reveal.

[From Ciardi]

Midway in our life's journey, I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
alone in a dark wood. How shall I say

what wood that was! I never saw so drear,
so rank, so arduous a wilderness!
Its very memory gives a shape to fear.

Death could scarce be more bitter than that place!
But since it came to good, I will recount
all that I found revealed there by God's grace.
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Old 12-18-2010, 04:19 PM   #19
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Translation *is* an art--and I agree that most indie authors can't pay 7500 upfront. That is why, if it happens at all, a different model would probably be used in most cases. In the case of indie writers, once the gate was opened for them, a gate was also opened for hungry artists--those willing to work for cheaper commissions to get their name out there and to create a portfolio. It remains to be seen whether there exists a market for translators.

Having done some of the "Freelance" work, I worked from a basic translation (that was usually terrible and sometimes unreadable) and was paid up to 5 cents a work to *really* turn it into readable, flowing English. So sometimes there are multiple levels as well. And it takes a lot of hours to get something right, which is why, even in the pro world, translations are not all that common.
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Old 06-22-2012, 04:58 AM   #20
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On the plus side you have much fewer books to compete with..

Last edited by owly; 06-23-2012 at 07:17 AM.
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