After consulting with our massive stable of authors and a number of translators both amateur and professional, we have decided upon what our standard translation policy will be going forward. Our first objective is to ensure that the translations are profitable for us so that we can stay in business. Our second objective is to further the author’s interests. This means understanding that a competently translated revenue-producing translation is, in nearly all circumstances, better than no revenue-producing translation. Our third objective is to protect the translator’s interests. This means the risk/reward ratio has to be reasonable. One can’t expect small language markets to sell as many copies as the English language market or for fan bases to magically appear the moment an author is published in a new language for the first time. And our fourth objective is to be fair to all three parties concerned.
We elected to build our policy around Amazon sales, since that is where most ebooks are sold. Amazon takes 30 percent for its distribution services, leaving 70 percent to be divided between the publisher, the author, and the translator. Since we customarily divide that 70 percent of revenue evenly between the publisher and the content provider, we have decided to look upon the author and the translator as joint content providers and divide the content provider’s half evenly between them. This appears to work for everyone, as 25 percent of revenue for the author is equal to what most authors get on ebooks from the major publishers, and 25 percent of revenue is sufficient for the translator to accept the risk of the author’s book not selling very well in his market. It also gives the translator a real incentive to make the translation a high-quality one. The term of the translator’s royalty share is five years from the date of publication.
This means that while Castalia House authors will receive a lower royalty on their foreign language sales than on their English language sales, the benefit is the increased likelihood that they will have foreign language sales even if their books are not English bestsellers. The significant potential upside for the translator means that we have a number of very good translators who are eager to become partners with our authors in their foreign language sales. While there may be the occasional exception, and we are nothing if not flexible, this will be our standard approach to publishing foreign language editions going forward.