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The secret life of the
literary translator
Ros Schwartz
Who are literary translators?
Skills

self starter

contract negotiation

computers/technology

understanding publishing

accounts, tax and social security,
sickness insurance, pension

making a living as a translator

professional development

networking
Getting started
Proposing books to publishers

Check translation rights available

Contact the foreign rights manager of the
publishing house

Request permission to seek a publisher
for your proposed translation
Identify potential publishers via:

publishing directories

book fair catalogues

visit international book fairs
Presenting to publishers


Write to a named editor
Put together a ‘pack’ including:
•
•
•
introductory letter
synopsis and sample translation (2-3,000 words)
facts and figures:



•
information about the author:

•
Length (number of words/pages)
Sales figures/bestseller placings
selected press cuttings
previous books/sales history/prizes/films
your own résumé
Factors influencing the publisher:








Length
Cost of translation
Skill of translator
Is the author alive, ‘promotable’?
Is the book part of a series?
Is the country of origin fashionable?
Can the editor read the language?
Are translation subsidies available?
Information on subsidies
 Translators
Companion website
www.translatorscompanion.org
 Cultural Attaché of the embassy
concerned
 For EU subsidies contact the European
Commission cultural contact
http://ec.europa.eu/culture/eac/culture2000/c
ontacts/national_pts_en.html
Cultural Contact Point Greece
 Directorate
of European Affairs
Demetris Antonopoulos
Ministry of Culture
17 rue Ermou
10563 Athens
Tel. 210 32 30 293 / 82 01 501
Fax 210 33 10 796
E-mail:
[email protected]
http://www.ccp.culture.gr
Negotiating contracts
The “Decalogue”
1. A license contract by which the translator will retain the
copyright.
2. A fair remuneration for the translation as commissioned.
3. Royalties should be paid in the event of sales passing a
trigger, to be specified in the contract.
4. Payment for all subsidiary exploitation of the translation.
5. Protection of moral rights: the naming of the translator
with suitable prominence and respect for the integrity of
the translated text;
The Decalogue
6. Translations should be commissioned from the original language.
7. Rendering of an annual statement of account by the publisher to the
translator.
8. The translator should be held harmless from any libel suit.
9. The publisher should ascertain the professional competence of the
translator.
10. The payment of all subsidies for translation should be subject to
these general principles and the translator should be informed of the
amount and conditions of such subsidies.
Computer equipment and skills

present your work in the required format

back ups

online resources for research (dictionaries,
glossaries, libraries useful websites, translator
forums)

technical assistance

keep up to date with developments
Understanding the publishing
process
Accounts, taxes, insurance
 be
aware of your tax status
 keep proper accounts
 plan ahead:


sickness insurance
pension
Professional development
 national
translators’ association events
 workshops
(language- or subject-based)
 translation
centre residencies
RECIT
RECIT (a network of 10 European literary
translation centres)
•
•
•
•
residencies for translators
events bringing together writers & translators
Workshops
summer schools
http://www.recit-trad.eu
Networking
 join
your national association
 network with colleagues
 professional events
 conferences
 mentoring
 other professional spheres
Working conditions for the
freelance literary translator
Making a living as a freelance
literary translator
The advantages of being freelance
 doing
something you love
 independence,
 no
being your own boss
commuting
 compatible
with having a family
 translation
community supportive and
generous
 you
never stop learning
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