by Jan 8, 2020 918 views 16

How to Save Money on Translation for Your Book?

How to Save Money on Translation for Your Book?

We are living in times, when everything has a price but this price is not always reasonable.

Who would not want to save some money if there is a chance to? Especially, when we talk about Book Translation.

Don’t get me wrong. There are no witless toilers ready to translate your book for a hundred of bucks. Book Translation takes time and money, and time is one of the main things that can help you to save some money! Another thing that might be useful regarding saving is Reason. About this we will talk in a moment, but before, let’s have a look at how price for Book Translation is formed.

1. Book Length

In my previous posts on book translation, I’ve mentioned a standard method of price formation for Book Translation which is minimum 12 cents per word. In math of pricing Book Translation, this will be your main number. So, the amount of words decides the main number for your final price. The more words, the bigger price.

2. Type (genre) of Book

Yes, some genres can be a little (sometimes a lot) more expensive to work with. For example, philosophy, technical, medicine, law books can cost two-three times more than translation for fiction. Though, talking about style, some fiction books can be at slightly bigger price as well.

3. Time

That’s where we can save for a rainy day, so to speak. Since time is priceless, and decides how many hours a day translator will have to work in order to finish the translation by deadline, the price for this very translation can vary significantly. So, if you plan to have your book translated within a period of month, be ready to pay!

4. Selling

You might be surprised to know that some of translators work on commission, taking from 5% to 15% of your income from the sales of your book on international market. It is rare but happens. In this case you don’t pay to your translator before you get your translation and start selling your book. Sometimes, translators do their job for half of the actual price on condition to get 2% to 5% of the future income. Kind of a combo deal, which obviously has some pros and cons.

These are the main criteria that shape the final price for Book Translation. Now, let's talk about ways how you can save some money on Translation for your Book.

Time. The most precious of all treasures!

Average time for a book (60-80k words) translation is 2-3 months. So, if you are mentally and physically ready to wait for, let’s say, 4 months for your book to be translated, then you can seriously count on a lower price. But I would not recommend to go all insane and offer your translator keep your book in the process of translation for like 6 or more months, because: a. it is insane, b. it will affect the quality of the translation, because in this case, translator will more likely work on one-two other projects and this is not always humanly possible to stay in tune with more than two projects at the time.

So even though, time is your golden thread to save some money on Translation for your Book, please, be reasonable.


This is something I personally use in my work when forming the final price for Book Translation and I call it ‘Reason’. I am sure plenty of freelance book translators use the same logic when needed, which is considering the reason(s) as to why Author cannot pay this or that amount of money. It is some form of negotiation when two people come to agreement where everyone stays happy.

As a freelance translator I respect my time and I definitely want to make the best out of each and every of my projects. And as a writer, I know for sure that sometimes, Authors are limited in their budget. If I like the book and Author is open and sincere about his/her finances, I would make sure that we both get the best deal at the end. If it means that I will have to find some ways to cut price for this particular project, I will do so!

Communicate in a respectful manner – don’t just tell what you want, but explain why.

-Jeffrey Morales.

If you plan to get your book translated one day, please, follow me on my social media or subscribe to my blog to not miss the future posts about Indie Book Translation. Also, don’t forget to support me by clicking the ‘like’ button bellow and, maybe, share this post with your friends on Twitter.


Tom Jan 10, 2020

I read the whole post with great interest :)


Franka Jan 14, 2020

@Tom, aww, thank you! you are always soooo suportive <heart>!


Rikki Feb 29, 2020

love your posts about book translations, Franka. Hope, to get my book translated some day. <)


Franka Mar 4, 2020

@Rikki, than you so very much! Hope to see your book translated one day too.

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