The Authors Guild has announced the results of its 2022 Survey of U.S. Literary Translators' Working Conditions. The survey was conducted online in October 2022 by the Guild in collaboration with the American Literary Translators Association, the American Translators Association, PEN America, and other groups.

The inaugural survey was conducted in 2017 and was open to translators around the world. For this most recent survey, respondents were limited to residents of the United States, so as to assess the viability of literary translation as a livelihood with respect to the U.S. cost of living. Just under 300 people responded to the survey, which was intended to collect data about copyright, payment, royalties, and other labor issues pertaining to literary translators.

The following are a selection of key findings from the 2022 survey:

  • Respondents were overwhelmingly white (80.6%), though the number of Black/African American translators doubled from the 2017 survey (3.2%) and the number of Asian/Asian American translators quintupled (7.4%)
  • Only 11.5% of respondents reported earning 100% of their income from literary translation work, and 74% of respondents hold another job in addition to their literary translation work
  • 63.5% of respondents reported an annual income of less than $10,000 from literary translation in 2021—twice as many as in 2016, despite a greater percentage of respondents working as literary translators full-time (45% in 2022 vs. 39% in 2017)

  • Despite the cost of living in the U.S increasing by 20% since 2017, the average translation rate per word has increased only 8%
  • Approximately 46% of respondents reported having royalty clauses in their contracts
  • Approximately 73% of respondents retained the copyright to their work, and 44% of the respondents who did not hold the copyright reported publisher refusal as the primary reason
  • 58% of prose translators reported that their names "always or usually" appear on the books they translate, and male translators had a slightly higher likelihood (5%) of their names appearing on the cover
  • Publisher refusal remained the most common reason for excluding the translator's name from the book cover
  • 36% of respondents reported that their payment depended on the publisher receiving a grant
  • The largest group of respondents were translators of fiction (68%) and the most commonly translated language among respondents was Spanish (85%), though 59% of respondents reported translating from more than one language

The complete 2022 Authors Guild Survey of Literary Translators' Working Conditions can be viewed here.