11 Sep 2017
While English is a dominant language, getting your novel translated into another language can open new markets for your business. This is especially true if your book has something that appeals to that country’s readers. It may be that the story is set in that country, or an historic event plays a big role in the story.
Getting your novel translated and published in that country requires the answers to two questions:
* How will your book be translated?
* How will it be published?
Traditionally, a foreign publisher would offer to buy the specific language rights to your book and oversee the translation and publication. In return, the author could receive an advance plus a small royalty.
This is still the case today, but it is also possible for you to arrange for the translation, and publish the book through Amazon, or a popular online seller in your target country, such as Tolini in Germany. This has the potential for a bigger payout, but you have to risk money to pay someone to translate the book. You also should have the translation read by someone who knows the language. You would also have to make sure your marketing materials, such as the jacket copy and the description, are also in that language.
And, no, do not use Google Translate for this, nor hiring someone with no track record off Fivvr. You want someone who not only knows the language, but the informal language. Who knows how people talk, the slang and metaphors they would use, who can make your story come alive to readers from a different culture.
Amazon currently sells ebooks in 34 languages from Afrikaans to Welsh.
Thanks to the popularity of indie publishing, there are many options to choose from. Here are the ones currently showing up on our radar.
This service matches authors with translators, taking a 15% royalty in place of an up-front fee. It currently offers translators in at least 15 languages, including the Europeans (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Greek, and Dutch) as well as Hindi, Japanese, and Afrikaans. The quality of the work varies. One author who raved about Babelcube has one book on Amazon’s Spanish site with three reviews. Two of them are one-stars complaining about the quality of the translation.
This is a premium service as befitting a company that works with Microsoft, American Express, and University of Cambridge. Instead of a price sheet, you have to ask them for a quote. They have a good FAQ on their website that explains the process.
This is another matching service, where you select the language you want your book translated into and even which country this edition will be sold in (very important, since the Spanish spoken in Spain is different in vital ways to the way it is spoken in Mexico). The results display a photo of the translator, a brief statement about their expertise and preferred subjects, a rating (if any) and their charge per word. A check of Spanish translators revealed two who live within my region!
This UK company specializes in non-fiction books, such as crafts, gardening, phrasebooks, educational materials and periodicals.
They list among their clients Deepak Chopra, Sylvia Browne, Wayne Dyer and the Dalai Lama. They offer both machine and human translation and an in-between service of machine translation with human editing. The difference in cost is substantial (3 cents per word versus 11 to 15 cents), and that’s probably an accurate measure of the quality.
They brag on their website that they can translate a book into 256 languages, and that their translators are university educated and the work will be read by an editor and a proofreader. They also work with corporate clients as well as the European Union, so expect their rates to be at the high end.
These are the major places to find freelance translators. You will find bargain prices here, but to get the best value for your money, you’d have to do what lawyers call due diligence. This means finding out what else they translated. If it’s available on Amazon, a check of the reviews with the help of Google Translate will reveal what readers think. You may even want to pay for a sample translation of your work’s first five pages.