Home / Resources / Self-Published Translation Rights

Self-Published Translation Rights

Missed this post last month, and it’s an important one: Share The Wealth: A Radical Solution To Translation Costs

The main idea: get your book translated into different languages by promising the translator money on the back end after the book sells, rather than an upfront fee. Scott Nicholson writes on David Gaughran’s blog:

Amazon just opened its German store, and more digital and paper markets are going to open up for indie authors, and overseas readers will finally get an incredible range of choices. But it’s going to take a new kind of indie—the “indie translator.”

I currently have three foreign translations available for independent sale and three more in the pipeline, as well as a creative split-revenue, cooperative deal inChina. None of them required an agent, and each project was entrepreneurial and unique.

You hear some indie writers say “Well, I’d still need an agent for foreign and movie deals.” Like everything in this rapidly changing environment, that’s not necessarily true, and certainly not absolute. In fact, the same principals apply to indie digital publishing in foreign markets as in the US—all you have to do is upload a digital file. And paper books, especially print-on-demand, will follow the same pattern….

I pay a 20 percent royalty of net sales to my translators. For a $2.99 book, that would earn around 40 cents a pop. Not much, until you consider that’s income for life on a one-time job. Imagine if you translated 10 bestselling titles at 10 percent–you’d be making more than the US author currently does when he/she sells a foreign right through a publisher!

It’s a bold idea, but it has one catch: you need to be able to guarantee a healthy level of sales in a foreign market, and that’s fairly difficult to guarantee. So it would seem this is mainly a step for successful self-publishers – i.e. people who could probably get a rights agent who would work out all the details and get an advance. It’s an option to seek out your own translator, but it is not exactly an option that’s equal to the ease of self-publishing – unless you’re familiar with the overseas market, the language, and the translator. Chances are, a lot of self-publishers don’t fit that description.

And translation is also a totally different game than self-publishing. Though it might look totally impressive to see your book converted into another language, to a native reader a poor translation is just going to read like a bad book. What this means is your book is less likely to sell so you can even pay that translator. You don’t want a translation to come out like Ebookit’s automated audiobook tool – useful in a pinch, but lacking a lot of human warmth. Translation is an artform equal to any kind of writing, so you’re going to have to vet a translator very carefully – including having a native reader read a sample to make sure it reads naturally.

This sounds like a lot of negativity – but it’s just to suggest that writers tread carefully. It’s an option, but there are many more variables than traditional self-publishing.

Meanwhile, Alex de Campi, a graphic novelist, attempted to use Kickstarter to sell both American and foreign rights. However, Kickstarter said that it was against their terms, so she had to take it down – for instance, she was selling the American rights for $5000. Again, she’s trying to raise $27,000 so the writer who sets out to do something like this is already successful in some respect.

I’ve had one book translated, which was put out by Hachette Litteratures, one of the bigger publishers in France. I was paid $4000.

The way this happened is that a friend translated it.  I lived in Paris for a year, we met, years later the translation deal came together via an agent I’d met in Paris, who also helped facilitate rights for a UK edition of the same novel.  And that’s sort of instructive – in publishing, it’s who you know as much as anything.  So if you get in touch with prospective translators, good things can happen.

So where to find a translator? Network. Pen American has a good list to get started.

  • http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/ David Gaughran

    Hi Henry,

    Thanks for the bringing this blog post to people’s attention.

    First of all, I agree with your basic advice that writers should tread carefully – and I would apply that to dealings with foreign publishers/agents, as well as attempting to do it yourself.

    I would just like to take slight issue with your caveat that this is “mainly a step for successful self-publishers”. I’m not sure what your definition of “successful” is, but I am presuming you mean someone who has had a bona fide bestseller and/or comes of the back of a solid trade publishing career (if I’m mistaken, forgive me).

    But this is not the case. I wouldn’t qualify under either criteria. I’ve been self-publishing for five months, have sold around 1,200 books, and have no trade publishing history (and no “name” from anywhere else either). I’m happy with my performance, but I don’t think the tag of “successful” applies to me.

    In any event, I have signed deals under this revenue-sharing model (with experienced, professional, qualified translators) to translate one title into French and Spanish, and I’m negotiating a third.

    I had to make the case of why I thought the book had a chance of doing well in the respective markets. I pointed to my reviews and gave them my sales figures. I didn’t overplay anything. I cautioned that I fully expected sales to be slow at the start, and warned that they could remain tepid given the difficulties (for me) in promoting in a foreign market. But I also said there was a chance the book could do well, and if it was a hit, they would share in that.

    Most of the translators I approached weren’t interested, but I only needed to find one in each language who was willing to try something new. Finding translators (willing to do this) is certainly the hard part. And I would imagine that the stronger your sales record, the easier that would be.

    Is it better than a foreign rights deal? That’s for each writer to decide. I’m not trying to foist this model on anyone, just highlighting a different approach that is working for one writer that I’m now trying myself. I haven’t been offered any foreign rights deals up to now, so it works for me, and I can’t really see a downside.

    Also, traditional foreign rights deals aren’t without their problems. Scott Nicholson has detailed his own issues with getting paid etc. on his blog, and Kindle Boards has several threads about self-publishers who ran into similar issues (obviously, you won’t run into this issue with a publisher like Hachette).

    And I think this kind of “indie translation” approach has similar attractions to self-publishing: you retain (most of) your rights, you get paid monthly, you choose your own covers, you control pricing etc.

    I don’t think it’s for all writers, and I certainly don’t think it’s for all translators, but I think some will enjoy working under this system.

    Best of luck with your book in France, and thanks again for highlighting this blog post.


    • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/henry-baum/ Henry Baum

      Great points, thanks – and congrats on the deals you’ve done. The gist I was getting at was this: “I would imagine that the stronger your sales record, the easier that would be.” The easier it might be to find decent translators as well. I can’t claim to understand this market fully, but translators who are more desperate for work could be out of work for a reason. But then, there could also be good translators who are looking to pad a resume. In any event, it’s great that you’ve been able to organize translations without being a Konrath or Hocking.

      • http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/ David Gaughran

        Here’s the thing. Literary translators are poorly paid for the work they do and often poorly treated by publishers/agencies. A lot of translators mix it up with corporate work, which pays better (and on time), but is often boring. The average wage for a literary translator in Germany, for example, is something like US$25,000. It’s less again in Spain and Italy.

        The translators I’m working with both have superb credentials, have translated work by a long list of NYT Bestsellers, and they aren’t desperate for work. In fact, a condition of their signing was that they would be allowed to prioritize regular work – which I agreed to.

        I also think they are interested in testing out the model – I’d say there is an element of curiosity there, given the conditions I mentioned above. But they both also read the book before agreeing. So I would imagine that the book itself has to grab them.

        I have to say though, I had a chuckle when I was composing an email to one translator, and had a moment when I felt like I was writing query letters again.



vgr 100 pfizer side effects iraplax orlistat 120mg cheap nuvigil side effects dostinex 0.5mg tablet bisoprolol 2.5mg toradol injection medication bystolic 5 mg and weight gain canadian health care shop herpes simplex 1 jual cytotec jakarta where to buy promethazine codeine cialis professional usa flexidol relax accion terapeutica homeopatica vytorin generic alternative zithromax z pack dose exelon stock symbol ativan medication for alcohol withdrawal hoodia tea reviews hoodia weight loss drink costco canadian pharm support group canadian pharmacy 247 low price viagra zofran dosage for children with stomach virus periostat 20mg and gum disease online pharmaciy folcres finasteride for hair buy prednisone for poison ivy metallica black album track list free viagra trial pack discount cialis from canada order tretinoin cream amoxicillin for sinus infection in infants dapoxetine with viagra trimetabol sirop de muguri nitrazepam dosage of tylenol buy dapoxetine new drug buy exelon best price on ed drugs canada prednisone new antidepressants on the market pravastatin medication for cholesterol aspirin dosage for dogs per pound online pharmacy no rx dianabol stack with sustanon pravastatin sodium tablets usp 20 mg side effects is amoxicillin the same as penicillin rapidtabs wikipedia free amantadine without prescription advantage multi for dogs coupon retail price for cialis minimum age for taking viagra baclofen 10mg tablets withdrawal symptoms buy generic sildenafil australia where to buy prednisone for dogs best viagra online pharmacy is there a generic cialis altace ramipril coupons buy 5 mg cialis pills online buy 5milligram tadalafil online navidoxine drug corega denture adhesive side effects zovirax cream for shingles online pharm tech degree uroxatral 10 mg patients bill combivent respimat instructions for use cnadian pharmacy lopid 600 mg triglycerides erectalis 20 cheap online viagra alternatives that work finasteride online paypal free sample trial viagra ampicillin trihydrate solubility verapamil 240 mg er capsules brand levitra 20mg 265 painkillers without a prescription misoprostol 200mcg tablets leponex 100 mg does amoxicillin work for staph ambien addiction side effects diflucan 150 mg piroxicam medication and meloxicam permethrin 10 directions block diagram motohome kamagra price thailand free lasaoren removal mentat mantra avana at the rim reviews diflucan otc walgreens obetrol drug abuse naprosyn side effects in elderly prednisone without prescription canada my cialis online buying ativan in mexico pain pills no prescription non drowsy benadryl pentrexyl mexico healthcare provider buy arimidex online canada topamax and alcohol dependence healthy man viagra is it a scam where to buy clomid cheap eutirox 50 merck viagra with a script nasonex nasal spray treatment where to buy buspar over night cialis free trials promethazine dosage to get high ventolin dosage for children asthma treatment keflex and breastfeeding safety keflex antibiotic information cephalexin 365pills complaints against doctors nexium 40 mg for sale canadian no written prescription needed sildenafil citrate 100mg pills side effects pheromones for women that work cialis actors online pharmacy in costa rica compare prescription prices in florida purchase maxalt tablets on line atenolol side effects lisinopril side effects cialis orosolubile anything otc like viagra or cialis viagra for sale denver buspar xanax benzodiazepines purinethol price in singapore xenical side effects palpitations hoodia p57 buto asma inhaler dutasteride and saw palmetto viagra free trial pack buy finasteride online lowest price genuine cialis from canada secnidazole tablets 1g atepros drug emporium propecia sale metformina 850 dosis recomendada de ajo buy abilify 2mg penis pics hoodia weight loss patch review zoloft 100mg dosage amitriptyline ohne rezept bestellen antibiotics and birth control effectiveness how long flomax for women for kidney stones dapoxetine 30 mg alli amsterdam sureway transportation company los angeles garrigue pronunciation of words promethazine hydrochloride 25 mg clopidogrel bisulfate tabs 75mg metallica black album songs list permethrin cream for scabies primox plus how effective is albenza for pinworms free generic viagra samples lamisil cream treatment athletes foot voltaren gel side effects singulair medicine tics how to fix naturally isoniazid and alcohol sublingual vitamin b12 tablets pfizer connection to care form digoxina in english yahoo costco black friday 2015 hours where to buy obagi tretinoin online danazol side effects buy clonidine online no prescription fast delivery onlinhe cymbalta abilify side effects in children with autism depakote er 500mg for kids best web site for brand name viagra cheap viagra sams clb over the counter meds like cialis overnight prednisone bentyl 20 mg side effects generique du viagra sans ordonnance can a wellbutrin overdose kill you medex viagra quien vende lipitor jelly belly uk viagra tijuana pharmacy medications seroquel dosage for insomnia what is anafranil 25mg use for carafate medication for sale dosage of zovirax for cold sores novolax laxative tea vibramycin uses shpejtesia e zerit generic viagra vs viagra celexa side effects celexa weight gain vitamix costco demo schedule 2014 buying viagra overseas order costco black friday 2015 sales vitamin d deficiency symptoms bones cialis super force reviews pinamox pinewood studios orlistat 120mg capsules purchase can you use fucidin cream for thrush periactin for migraines in children shop accutane online ezetimibe 10mg simvastatin 80mg side advantage multi for dogs best price birth control without prescription naproxen sodium 220 mg prescriptions for cialis how much does generic viagra cost 252 wellbutrin dosage information oxazepam brand name aspirin side effects bleeding brunette in viagra commercial viagra discount prices levamisole wormer for sheep losartan side effects medication amoxicillin dosage for strep throat hoodia tea weight loss prinivil medication lisinopril mincorp plc direct donde puedo comprar cytotec en usa arava side effects leflunomide 20mg quinine side effects doctor prometrium progesterone suppositories amsterdam viagra prevacid 30 mg treatment lansoprazole super viagra deutsch nexium 40 mg capsules purchse flexeril information zyrtec side effects after stopping prilosec coupons printable 2014 alternatives for doxycycline provigil coupons offers minocin antibiotic overnight shipping viagra gonorrhea treatment acheter azithromycin canada european phamarcy tretinoin gel 1 for sale cannadian pharmacy alli tablets zestoretic side effects novolax laxative sidenovolog tablete za kontracepciju diane 35 online pain meds fast delivery accutane online pharmacy in turkey berifen patches kamatra sumatra tsunamikeflex glucophage 500mg information cialis on internet no prescription software engineer salary range femara success stories for infertility diamox medication over the counter lipitor 40 mg risperdal 0 dollars 42 central park neurontin for pain control antibiotics for strep throat treatment nexium for 18 00 what is the normal dosage of cipro cymbalta medication side effects weight gain caverta 100 side effects abuterol inhalers without perscriptionr diabecon ingredients cefamor 250 gallon commander viagra canada benazepril medications order pills for chymedia cheap fluoxetine uk buy strattera side effects in men glipizide medication for diabetes try viagra ships 2 to 3 days u s chlamydia discharge suprax 400mg side effects azithromycin sold in stores viagra with mastercard tadalafil 20 mg dosage prescription drugs without prescriotion anti viral drugs over the counter seroquel for sleep disorders cheap cialis in the united states cleocin cream 2 medication for type 2 diabetes online international pharmacy no prescription zoloft dosages and side effects buy tetracycline ophthalmic ointment dostinex uses hyper stimulation blue mountain pharmacy canada albuterol side effects lasuna food recipes amoxicillin to buy online uk buy online ode des perfume decadron side effects dexamethasone in dogs how to get plavix for free raymeds login microsoft dalacin c 300mg manufacturer tadarise pro 20 dosage garlic aioli recipe epicurious raloxifene side effects can you get high off mobic viagra ajanta amoxicillin online canada omeprazole 20 mg treatment patients espanol tretinoin cream 0 1 real viagra pills omnicef side effects children where can you get mebendazole from generic viagras levothyroxine overnite shipping cialis walmart furolin tableti prodaja lantus cheapest place to buy tramol online u k amermycin 100mg viagra mexican pharmacies to buy brand viagra naproxen 500 mg en espanol depakote medication wikipedia powered by disqus cialis where can i buy prednisolone in the uk adderall xr 30 mg lidocaine hydrochloride jelly usp 2 lynoral 0.05 mg viagra overnight delivery us vidalta side effects vistaril and pregnancy contractions buy primatene mist inhaler online brand viagra uk clonidine for children behavior qsymia no prescription online cytotec guatemala fda approves contrave weight loss drug medrol dose pack side effects in elderly buying ciplactin online phenergan with codeine syrup dosage buy generic drugs from india mail order cialis canada can you buy viagra in mexico canadian pharmacy windsor doxycycline hyclate uses treat abilify weight gain drug plavix patient assistance bristol myers squibb how to make viagra more effective order indian sildenafil topiramate side effects hair loss cyrux pastillas de leche buy medicine from cannada orlistat crestor savings card opus health kegunaan fucidin colchicine gout prophylaxis revatio generics depakote withdrawal symptoms drug champix smoking tablets does aetna pay for cialis evista generic available plavix coupons or free celebrex on line sales femara infertility success tylenol side effects liver lo ovral emergency contraception naproxen medication 500mg pay by paypal generic viagra orlistat weight loss reviews buy meloxicam for dogs uk salbutamol sulfate drug valtrex without rx canadian levitra online buy plavix on line no prescription hytrin prostate drug female viagra paypal accepted clozaril blood monitoring guidelines xlpharmacy canada 411 promethazine 25mg medication use levothyroxine synthroid strattera for sale cheap kamagra pills uk cytoxan and taxotere diazepam 2mg street value cialis cheap from india propranolol for anxiety dose lialda maximum dosage mestinon 60 mg price hydroxyzine hcl 10mg tablet something better then viagra viramune xr coupon how to buy protonix fron canada nasonex generic equivalent online shopping malaysia generic cialis walgreens photo coupon code august 2015 buy meloxicam uk my canadian pharmacy spam epogen information mometasone furoate ointment usp 0.1 uses viagra wholesalers china phenamax reviews on 50 manfaat voltaren tramadol side effects medications for dogs mebendazole vermox discontinued tricor 145 mg buy doxycycline hyclate online maxaman caye caulker belize weather buy azithromycin lisinopril side effects cough treatment cheap antibiotics canada can buy betnovate cream search http kwrt index nolvadex side effects for women ed hardy love and luck body wash accutane no prescription ketoconazole cream amitriptyline no script non us pharmacies curacne 40 mg side effects seroxat side effects paroxetine canada pharmacy 24 hours benicar hct 40 12.5 mg alfuzosin hcl er 10 mg tablet side effects cabaser reviews antibiotics and birth control effectiveness mercury drug price list of medicines canadian rx propecia product laxadin bisacodyl side doxylamine succinate 25 mg overdoses 60 mgs dapoxtine with levitra vendita cialis professional rush delivery antibiotic purchase therapy dogs international fresno ca crestor walgreens price effexor withdrawal symptoms last wellbutrin xl side effects hair loss fish medications for humans lergigan biverkningar av morfin kamagranow forum eurax scabies treatment crestor 10 mg rayh health care pvt ltd canada duphaston pregnancy benemid medications do i loose erection with cialis 20 clavamox without rx buy zanaflex online overnight delivery livial menopause history of leconfield castle buy bupropion ritalin side effects stimulants safe site to by trazodone skelaxin 800mg tablets side effects parlodel drug cialis supreme suppliers letrozole ovulation pain wee northwestpharmacy buy meclizine in canada dilantin iv administration lowest price viagra 100 mg fentanyl citrate salbutamol guaifenesin asthma cymbalta no prescription overnight order accutane pill nosipren prednisone 20mg treatment sildenafil prilocaine topical ointment erexin spray review ambien addiction story minomycin information flagyl side effects in dogs cialis im internet kaufen prilosec heartburn medicine for sale over the counter mitformin hcl nizagara ingredients newport gwent viagra buy camera using echeck cialis italia gratis lasixs medicine vardenafil 20 mg from india purchase ceftin lipitor order out of country baytril for rats for sale generic ed meds asthma symptoms in adults due to mold cheap trazodone 100mg no prescription tylenol with codeine while pregnant cialis kantucky xalacom no prescription rualis cialis comment du kamagra lipvas cipla india cialis online mastercard shop flagyl dormidina side effects online chemist no prescription vitamix reviews overload novolax 5mg clonidine side effects in children with adhd cialis online pharmacy levlen ingredients clomiphene no prescription magnesium supplements during pregnancy acticin over the counter nexium mups 40 mg combivent inhaler medication coupon zyban dosages to quit smoking eutirox 25 mcg misoprostol 200mcg tab greenstone viagra for sale in alaska my order status info prevacid lansoprazole 30 mg capsules cat flovent inhaler coupons lidocaine ointment usp 5 usage