Subsidies for the translation of French works into foreign languages

This award is intended to support the costs of translating French works into foreign languages.

General eligibility criteria

With the exception of special cases left to the discretion of the CNL president, any professional publisher by may request CNL aid, regardless of its legal structure, so long as it holds the rights to the work to be translated.

The original work must be in French, under copyright, and fall within the subject categories of one of the thematic commissions of the CNL. Teaching materials, practical guides, reviews, as well as works in the public domain are not eligible.

All foreign languages are eligible.

Each publisher may submit up to 10 application dossiers per session and per commission.

Projects benefitting from another form of public translation funding are not eligible.

Admissibility of application dossiers

  • The publisher must hold the rights to work and the rights contract must be valid.
  • The translation costs must be paid by the publisher who publishes and distributes it abroad. The translation must be done by an indepedent translator.
  • The translated work must be distributed in the network of bookshops within the country or the linguistic area(s) for which the rights were granted.
  • The print run must be greater than 500 copies.

The following will not be accepted:

  • Any project published before the commission has considered it for funding, projects printed at the author’s expense, self-published works, indirect or intermediary translations (translations not made from the original text in its original language).

The application dossier

For all requests, the publisher must submit:

  • The completed ad hoc application form
  • Two copies of the book in French
  • Bank coordinates of the publisher making the request
  • A copy of the licence agreement signed by both parties
  • A copy of the translation contract signed between the foreign publisher and the translator, as well as a translation in French of the principal points of the contract: title of the work and the name of the author, submission deadline for the translation, the translator’s remuneration amount, and the date the contract was signed
  • The translator’s CV and list of publications
  • A translation sample accompanied by the corresponding French text, or 6-page spreads for comic books or graphic novels. The translation sample must constitute 10% or more of the work, at the discretion of the CNL (major projects, works of poetry, etc.).
  • The catalogue and a presentation in French of the foreign publisher
  • A letter of intention (in French) from the foreign publisher, indicating that the work is listed in its catalogue and in its editorial policy, as well as the pertinence of distributing the work in the intended country

For aid requests concerning image rights:

For works whose illustrated content constitutes the majority of the original work (illustrated children’s books, comic books or graphic novels, illustrated dictionaries and encyclopaedias, art books, illustrated scientific works, etc.), the French publisher may request aid to cover the costs related to the reproduction rights abroad. The application dossier must include:

  • in the case of a rights cession: a copy of the licence agreement indicating the amount of the illustration rights
  • in the case of a coedition: the detailed listing of illustration costs

Aid requests for a translation rights subsidy:

The publisher may request a translation rights subsidy for projects in areas in which French books are a point of reference in terms of quality and diversity (children’s books, comic books and graphic novels, poetry), but for which the translation costs are not a decisive factor. The licence agreement must clearly state the amount of the advance payment.

Individual cases: for particularly large projects (dictionnaries, voluminous projects, collections, etc.) the publisher may request a preliminary decisions from the CNL. The application dossier must be submitted as follows:

  • The completed ad hoc form (to access the form, please contact the Creation department)
  • Two copies of the work in French
  • A presentation in French of the foreign publisher and its catalogue
  • A letter of intention (in French) from the foreign publisher, indicating that the work is listed in its catalogue and in its editorial policy, as well as the pertinence of distributing the work in the intended country.
  • The preliminary rights agreement or an engagement letter from the foreign publisher;

This preliminary decision remains valid for 12 months counting from the date the commission meets and announces its decision. The definitive attribution request will be examined by the commission, upon submission of the definitive rights agreement and a translation sample. The attribution criteria remain the same.

Application deadlines

The commissions meet 3 times per year.

Please consult the submissions calendar regarding application deadlines.

Attribution criteria

The application dossiers will be examined by two commissions:

  • a ‘literature’ commission
  • a ‘science, technology, and human and social sciences commission

They are comprised of representatives of the relevant administrations, publishing professionals and other qualified persons. An assessment will be made of each request and submitted to the commissions, who will form an official opinion on each application dossier. In light of the decisions made by the commissions, the decision to attribute, refuse, or postpone will be taken by the CNL president.

Assessment criteria

  • Quality of the work in its original version
  • Pertinence of translating (or retranslating) the work in the language and the country concerned in the request
  • Quality of the submitted translation sample
  • Editorial practices of the foreign publisher, as well as its respect, generally speaking, for its engagements made vis-a-vis French publishers
  • Coherence of the translation project in relation to the foreign publisher’s catalogue, as well as the remuneration of the translator.
  • The editorial risk taken, and – if applicable – the sales figures for previously translated works from the same author, the planned print run, and amount of the advance payment.
  • Remuneration conditions of the translator
  • The official opinion of the cultural services of the embassies concerned

Other criteria may be taken into consideration such as the priority given to certain languages or geographic zones in context of national or international events and initiatives.

Potential award amount

The award can also be applied to the costs outlined in the present paragraph, with the exception of all the other costs of publications: translation, sale of translation rights and illustration rights for other countries.

The aid ceiling is fixed at 500€, with a discretionary margin allowed for 5% of the projects, on recommendation of the commission.

Translation award amounts are calculated on the basis of the translator’s (or translators’) fees, to the exclusion of all the other costs related to the fabrication and/or the promotion of the work. The award amount is intended to cover 30-60% of the translation costs.

For information purposes only:

  • 30 %: quality projects for which the translation poses no particular difficulty
  • 40 %: more demanding literary or scientific projects for which the translation presents a greater degree of complexity
  • 50 %: priority projects (notably projects already funded by the CNL) and/or whose translation presents a high degree of difficulty
  • 60 %: projects that are exceptional in terms of their quality and their editorial scope

Aid for illustration rights for foreign countries may represent 30-60% of the total cost of the foreign rights, calculated on the basis of the French rights costs, multiplied by the percentage indicated in the scale published in paragraph 35 of the Code des usages dated 5 May 1993.

The award amount for the sale of translation rights may be as much as 100% of the amount of the advance payment.

Payment methods

The awards are made in one payment, after the CNL has received a copy of the translated work bearing mention of CNL aid, and a letter from the French publisher informing the foreign publisher of the award attribution.

The following documents are also required for translation aid:

  • Proof of payment signed by the translator
  • An attestation in French from the publisher, indicating the number of books printed

In observance of accounting regulations for public institutions, the amount of the aid award may be reduced if the translator’s remuneration is less than 10% of the amount upon which the award amount was calculated.

The CNL reserves the right to withhold aid if the project receives another form of public financial support after the CNL commission’s decision is made.

Award funds are given to the French publisher, who is responsible for transmitting them to the foreign publisher. In exceptional cases, the funds may be given directly to the foreign publisher. Under no circumstances will the CNL give funds to a translator as full or partial remuneration.

Awarded funds must be liquidated within 24 months after the date the commission meets.

Information and application form

Centre national du livre
Hôtel d’Avejan
53 rue de Verneuil
75007 Paris

Contact the department of creation