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Crediting Translators?

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Does anyone know how translators are typically credited on books? I translated a book with a professor that is now going to be published. When he sent me the title page, I was listed as one of four translators, which irked me (and, in fact, still irks me since the entire first draft of the translation was mine and I wasn't made aware of anyone else's involvement until the bitter end of the project), but I got over it sufficiently to not say anything. The second insult came when I received the contract and even though at one point we'd discussed splitting royalties equally, when it came to negotiations this professor told the publisher he'd essentially bought the rights to the translation from me, so I wasn't to receive anything in terms of royalties and in publishing forfeited all rights to the translation. I was livid, because we'd never discussed that. No mention of it was made until I received a contract from the publisher. But, I decided it wasn't a battle worth fighting, so I swallowed the resentment again and signed the contract.

But now I looked up the page for the book on the publisher's website, and my name isn't there anywhere. It also isn't on the cover of the book. It's just gone. At a glance, it looks like I didn't do anything, and no one will know otherwise unless they actually purchase the book and see my name tucked away somewhere on the title page. And frankly, with the way this has been going, I don't even totally trust that the title page I was shown is actually what will appear on the book. If you google my name and the title of the book, no search results come up. Yet again, I'm feeling totally betrayed. I specifically asked how our names would appear on the book, and he sent me the title page. I figured that also meant I would be credited on the cover, or on the webpage for the book, or at least somewhere so you don't have to hunt and dig to unearth the fact that I was actually involved in translating.

Are translators usually totally hidden like this? If so, I feel like this probably should have been broached when I specifically asked how our names were going to appear. I'm feel like I've been deceived and taken advantage of. Does anyone here know if this is some kind of industry standard? I'm aware that it's probably too late to actually change anything, but I really want to e-mail the person I worked with and let him know that I'm not standing in the way of his publication, but I'm incredibly displeased with how things have played out. Is it worth saying anything at this point? If this is standard, why didn't he say anything about it when I asked? Regarding the royalties issue, the only indication that anything had changed was a comment that most of the royalties were being directed to the original author, which to me implied that the split wouldn't be even, but there was going to be a split of some sort. It's probably petty to be upset, since it likely would have been pennies per copy. But now I'm especially frustrated over the fact that my name and my involvement in the project is mostly hidden, on top of the sudden appearance of two more people at the tail end of the project, on top of the royalty situation.

When I signed the contract, I told myself I was at least getting my name on a book as a consolation. But now I find out he's diminished that as much as he possibly could. And, again, given how things seem to change at the very last minute with him, and never in my favor, for all I know the title page has "changed" and I'm relegated to a footnote somewhere, even though I proposed the project, did the entire first draft, and have been exchanging revisions and edits with him for years at this point.

Any advice on whether I should broach the subject or insight as to whether this kind of thing is normal?

Edited by angesradieux
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  • 2 months later...

In English, translators' names rarely appear on the front cover--unless the translator is as famous as an author, like Lattimore or Fagles. Your name should appear inside, with the copywright. If it's on the title page, you're very lucky.

It's unfair, but in English translators are hidden away. It's changing a bit now, but still readers shy away from translations, so unless it's The Iliad that you've translated, publishers are hoping nobody will ever notice a translator was involved.

(I've translated a bunch of stuff, and had good experiences and bad.)

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