marcel barang

How not to do business (1)

In English on 11/01/2010 at 7:56 pm

Phone line highly temperamental since Saturday night, thus hardly any access to the net. Repairs promised for tomorrow morning. Lucky if this gets posted at all.


In early November, I received a call from a Mr Arthorn (อาทร), of the Techatada family, which owns and runs Praphansarn, one of the main publishing houses in Thailand. He was just back from the Frankfurt book fair, he said. Several publishers had expressed interest in the works of Seksan (เสกสรรค์) Prasertkul. He needed samples. Could I translate three of Seksan’s stories in a hurry?

I expressed reluctance: I had much too much work on my plate already. But then it was Seksan, whom I called up. Yes, said Seksan, Khun Arthorn is a friend, he’s OK, and there’s only you I can trust to do a good job of it. So I agreed to give that work priority. The three stories were sent 5 Nov 2009. Here is what happened next:


1) wanakam dot com to คุณอาทร, เสกสรรค์ | 05/11/2009

Dear Khun Arthorn,

Welll received, thank you … I’ll assess the three stories presently and will let you know shortly.

… Cheers from


2) arthorn to me, เสกสรรค์ | 06/11/2009

Dear Khun Marcel,

Nice to have a good beginning communicated with you. I’ll wait for your assessment.  If there is something I can do for U, please feel free to let me know.  As I had told you before that I took responsibility for all cost of your dedicated time helping me handle this crucial job smoothly.

Warm regards,

Arthorn Techatada

3) wanakam dot com to คุณอาทร | 05/11/2009

Dear Khun Arthorn,

I knew the first story, but hadn’t read the other two. Altogether, they amount to 84 pages in Thai. From any farang publisher, I’d expect at least the equivalent of B85,000, their lowest rate. I’ll settle for B75,000, if that’s agreeable to you.

The problem is the timing. I’m hurrying through Book 3 of Four Reigns (See Phaendin) and expect to finish that by next Wednesday. If you give me the green light, I could translate the three stories next, even though the 320 pages of Book 4 are going to be a tall order to finish by year end as scheduled (there is another long translation waiting in the queue).

So please let me know promptly.

Cheers from


4) arthorn to me | 07/11/2009

Dear Marcel,

I appreciate that you help me to start my foreign rights department (especially with Khun Seksan’s work) at 75,000 baht  for altogether 84 pages in Thai to English.  I accept your kindness quotation and even more delight that you’ll  begin translating the three stories by next Thursday.  I understand that you have a lot of translation works, however I do need the three stories to be samples sending them to foreign publishers and agents for their assessment as follow up whether they would like to buy Khun Seksan’s work license or not? I’ll pay you as soon as possible when you complete Thai translation for the three stories.

Best regards,

Arthorn Techatada

5) wanakam dot com to arthorn | 08/11/2009

Dear Khun Arthorn,

Thank you very much for agreeing to the terms for the translation.

However – don’t take this harshly – there is no such thing in the publishing world as “I’ll pay you as soon as possible when you complete Thai translation for the three stories” – as soon as possible being a very vague concept. Shall we say you will pay me within one month after I send you the three stories translated? Is this agreed?

I’ll do my best to speed up delivery, but I expect the whole effort will take two to three weeks.

Is Seksan’s work the only one that has attracted attention from foreign publishers?

Cheers from


6) arthorn to me | 12/11/2009

Dear Marshall,

I’m sorry to make you misunderstood, I didn’t intend to be impolite. Shall I rewrite as “I will pay you within one month  after you send me the complete three stories translated” Is this O.K?

I just begin foreign rights department in my company, I try to present many works from Thai writers to foreign publishers,  but I’m not sure that they really interest to buy license or not,  even of Khun Seksan’s work?  I’m really a book lover from my birth, I try to do something brand new for Thai writers, though what I shall send the samples of three chapters from each title of book as their request. This is the beginning as first step of trying to export Thai rights.  Honestly, I’m sorry again that I can’t answer your question on the topic you asked for clearly now.

Have a good day and also cheer for you.



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