Just over a month ago, Michael Drecker introduced himself to me via email. He was, he explained, a science fiction fan fluent in German and he proposed having me hire him to translate my short stories into German. Now, I assumed he was English or American with a degree in German, but it turns out he's German - so that gives you an idea of how strong his English is. He suggested that I price the German translations higher than the English ones and pay him the difference in profits. The thing about short stories is, though, they don't sell in volume, and I felt this approach would lead to him doing a lot of work for very little compensation, so we worked together to see if we could come up with a better solution.
Translation is traditionally very expensive, because it is hard work. The cheapest translators we could find for German charged .079 Euros per source word. I don't remember who suggested that Michael set a fee and claim 100% of royalties until the fee earned out, but that's what we decided to do, and I won't say how much Michael and I settled on. Suffice it to say he wanted to undercut his competition and I did not want to see him burned out and disgusted with the payback. This is still a very favorable deal for me, the author, because Michael is making royalties only, so I pay up front for things like translation of the author's note at the end, the blurb for the listing, etc. I think it's important that people see some remuneration asap, even if it's modest.
Once the stories earn out the fee, then Michael and I will split the royalties. Now some might ask what is in this for me? Exposure to a whole new market, a whole new fanbase, and association with Michael Drecker, who, if he continues this business venture, could translate for a lot of authors, some of whom will likely be a lot more famous than me. He is in talks with one other author that I know of, already.
All of this is very exciting for me, because I think we're forging ahead on another frontier of indie publishing. A lot of indie authors will retain agents and sign contracts with publishers to get foreign language editions of their work in print. It'll be interesting to see if Michael's model opens the door to a whole new set of options for indies.
In the meantime, two of my short stories are available in German already, with more to follow!