A Model Contract for Literary Translations

Updated 1/31/16. Be sure to see also our Translation FAQs.

Agreement made this day [date] between [translator’s name], (“Translator”), and [publisher’s name], (“Publisher”) concerning a translation (the “Translation”) of [title of work] (the “Work”) by [author’s name] (the “Author”).

1. The Translator will translate the Work from [original language] into English and will deliver the Translation to the Publisher on or before [date].

2. Publisher agrees not to make any changes to the final approved version of the Translation except for copyediting to conform with Publisher’s standard style and punctuation, spelling and capitalization. Publisher will send Translator the copyedited manuscript of the Translation and Translator agrees to provide any revisions or corrections within [X] weeks of receipt.

3. The Translator represents and warrants to the Publisher that no material of an objectionable or libelous character not present in the original work will be introduced into the translation. Subject to this representation, the Publisher hereby indemnifies and holds the Translator harmless against all suits, claims, causes of action, expenses or costs of any kind including legal fees arising out of the content of the original work. Publisher will cover Translator with respect to any lawsuits arising from the publication of the Translation under any publishers’ liability insurance policy (covering such risks as defamation, invasion of privacy and copyright and trademark infringement) the Publisher has that covers any lawsuit (the “Policy”).

4. The Translator shall receive an advance of [X dollars] for the translation, payable as follows: The Translator shall receive [X dollars] upon signature of this contract by both parties, and the remainder due shall be paid upon delivery of the completed translation.

5. In addition, the Translator shall receive a royalty of [X percent] on all sales of the book, based on the retail list price of the hardcover edition. The Translator shall also receive a royalty of [X percent] on all paperback sales of the book, based on the retail sales price of the paperback edition and its net sales. Translator shall receive an amount equal to [X percent] of Publisher’s net receipts from sales of the Translation in electronic form. Publisher will pay Translator an amount equal to [X percent] of subsidiary rights income from all sources. The Translator shall receive accounting statements from the Publisher under the same schedule as for the original author.

6. The Translator’s name shall appear on the cover and title page of all editions of the book, and in all publicity and advertising copy released by the Publisher, wherever the Author’s name appears, in a type size not smaller than sixty (60) percent of that of the Author’s name. Publisher agrees to print Translator’s approved biography on the back flap of the hardcover edition, on the back cover of any trade paperback edition of the Translation, and the title page of any electronic edition.

7. On first publication of the English translation, the Publisher shall give the Translator ten (10) free copies of each edition of the work, and the Translator may purchase additional copies from the Publisher at a discount of fifty (50) percent from the retail list price.

8. The Translator shall have the right no more than once per calendar year, to examine Publisher’s books, records and agreements relevant to the Translation at Translator’s expense. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if such audit reveals accounting errors of at least five (5) percent of the amounts due to Translator, then Publisher will reimburse Translator for the costs of the audit and the amount due as a result of the audit within thirty (30) days thereafter.

9. Publisher agrees to register the Translation of the Work in the Translator’s name and the Translator grants to Publisher for the full term of copyright and all renewals and extensions thereof the sole and exclusive right to reproduce, publish, and sell the translation in whole or in part throughout the world.

10a. [Standard reversion clause] If at any time the rights to the Work revert to the Author, then the rights to the Translation shall at the same time automatically revert to the Translator.

10b. [Alternate reversion clause to cover eBook contracts] If the Publisher fails to keep the Translation in print and does not reprint it within [X] months of its receipt of written request to do so, then the Translator will have the right to terminate this agreement by written notice to Publisher. The Translation shall be considered in print as long as the Publisher

Option 1: sells more than one hundred (100) digital copies [number of copies negotiable] of the Translation in the two (2) preceding accounting periods.

Option 2: remits more than $125 [negotiable] in royalty income resulting from sales of digital copies of the Translation in the two (2) preceding accounting periods.

11. Furthermore, the Publisher shall inform and make available for purchase to the Translator any unsold books at or below manufacturing cost (defined as the cost of paper, printing, and binding).

12. This contract may be cancelled only by the express agreement of both parties in writing.

In witness whereof, the parties hereto have signed this agreement on [date].



___                  _______________________________

   [Translator's signature]                                              
[Publisher’s signature]