A good book always comes into our lives at the right time”
The Best Guide to Book Translation
Is Book Translation the Right Choice?
The first question to ask yourself when it comes to your book is whether or not translating it is going to be worth the effort. If you think about it, it depends on the market you’re trying to approach. Each country may have a specific interest or niche. If your book adheres to that, then maybe it’s worth the effort. Believe it or not, at times, books and other media fare better in translation than they ever did in their original language.
Any writer dedicated to their craft will do whatever it takes to make sure their work sees the light. Even if it’s being seen more in foreign lands than on your own. As such, opting for book translation is a good way to help your book get more sales. You need to also keep in mind that writing takes time. Translating your book takes time. Marketing your book takes time. But everything will be worth it in the end when you’re able to see results. Honing your craft means exploring the world and taking in as many experiences as you can with you.
There’s nothing more important to an author than helping their book sell well. Think about it. If it’s the source of your livelihood, then you need to ensure you’re always drawing in new audiences to keep making sales. But how do you keep on drawing new readers to make that happen? One answer would be to resort to translation.
We all know that English is a universal language, one people from all around the globe utilize daily. While that may be true, these same people might not necessarily enjoy reading in it. It makes sense then to approach them in a language they’re more likely to enjoy and be comfortable in. That’s why most writers opt for translating their books.
Now onto book translation, did you know that most people don’t realize that The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho was originally written in Portuguese? The book spread like fire all around! Yet, many people don’t realize that what they’re reading was not the original book, but a translation. There are some examples where books fared great in translation, check here!
Native authors have more than enough reason to expand beyond their local market.
Translating books isn’t anything new. What makes it different now is that there are wider and relatively easier opportunities for indie authors to expand to other markets, there are good opportunities to take advantage of.
How Do You Translate Your Book?
If your book just might be worth translate; the next step is to figure out how to go by doing that. Two different ways spring to mind when thoughts of book translation come to mind. By yourself, learning a new language, or hiring a literary translator.
1. By Yourself, Learning a New Language
As self-publishers, we tend to feel like we need to do everything on our own. Since making money off of our books solely depends on us, we tend to micromanage the entire process. This is why the natural next step would be to learn a new language to translate your book into. However, is it worth it? The simple answer is NO. Let’s consider why.
a. Long Process
Depending on the person, it can take years to learn a language. Even if you continuously rely on the best language learning software, the best language learning apps, is that the best way to learn a language to write a book?
You’ll need to dedicate years of immersing yourself in another country and slowly understanding that country’s literary culture.
b. Writing Style
From the lexicon, prescriptive rules, down to the figure of speeches, each language has its way to convey meaning. Instead of relying on a literary translator, writing in a second language means you can take control of your writing in that language. Sadly, that’s not an easy thing to do, not unless you have native-like language skills.
In the long run, learning a new language to write a book is not a practical step to take. It will waste a lot of time, and you might not even do it right. Besides, what if you want to venture into another language and market? Will you learn every language known to man to get your book to sell? Sure, there are popular languages you could concentrate on, but the effort alone is surely not worth it.
2. Hiring a Literary Translator
It ought to be a “literary translator” and not just any translator available. Literary translation is its translation specialization. It requires long years of specialized training and exposure to the literary world.
Often, literary translators are academic professionals like scholars, college professors, and researchers. For literary translators just happened to be their expertise. You can get Masters and Doctorate degrees in literary translation.
If they’re not academics, then they’re usually specialists that also have years of experience and the right expertise under their belt. Their knowledge of the language means that they also understand the psyche of the client’s target audience. They strive to structure the translated prose in a way that resonates well with the native readers.
a. Where to Look
You can begin your search with literary local translation associations or a professional translation company.
Not only can you ask for professional translation services but also proofreading services and editing services from technical translation, legal translation, medical translation, and many more niche translation services. You’re specifically looking for literary translators! Ensure that the translator you choose has a good history in providing literary translations. That way you can entrust your work to the right person or they’ll help you find the right literary translator for you.
Translators typically charge by the word. Indeed which means you’ll need to shell out all the expenses by yourself. It’s worth saying now that you should never be tempted to cut costs using free online translation software. Even with the most innovative translation software available today, they are still nowhere near as good as human translators. Translation software, particularly with deep learning capabilities, is making considerable gains in the technical translation field. However, they are still lightyears away from translating creative works that contain highly nuanced language.
c. Faithfulness to the Original Author
What distinguishes an experienced literary translator from the rest is his or her ability to be faithful to the writer’s voice and prose. The translated work must still feel as if it was written by the original author. Therefore, do not be afraid to investigate a little further and ask about your potential literary translator by contacting your former clients. Did the translator stay true to the client’s writing style? Does the translator insist on important changes? Creative changes, albeit in a questionably stubborn way? Your literary translator will be your “partner” during this process, making it an important thing to find the right person for the translation.
What Are the Top Publishing Markets?
Unsurprisingly, the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, India, and China hold the crown for the largest publishing market. The U.S. already has a long history in the publishing industry, and many foreign writers choose to write in English and translate their works to English for that reason. China’s market for literary works comes from its population size, but a huge portion of its demand comes from the younger generations.
Localizing and Marketing Your Books Abroad
If you’re a self-published author, almost all is on you. In exchange for retaining your rights and more share of the royalties, you will have to do most of the heavy lifting.
1. Book Strategies
One side of book editing is to adjust to the target language’s prose, spelling, suitable translation, creative expressions. All will be covered by your translator. The other side has to deal with marketing.
2. Book Cover
Your priority should be your book cover. Create different covers for specific markets due to cultural, social, political, and even religious norms. It’s always important to be wary and be sensitive to the local culture. Some factors include color scheme, fonts, illustrations, cultural references, and linguistic nuances.
3. Find the Right Book Distribution Platform
The next thing you need to do is find out what the eCommerce platform in that market is. Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. It’s best to be present on all of the eCommerce platforms and provide multiple options for your international audience.
But if you’re opting for the digital route, then you naturally look up ebook publishing platforms. Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba also feature ebook options for their listed books. However, you can also directly distribute your ebook on Google Play, iBooks, Scribd, and Lulu. Essentially, it’s a good policy to have a presence in global and regional ebook sharing platforms.
You can also try ebook aggregators such as Draft2Digital and PublishDrive. There, authors can upload a single version of their book and distribute it to multiple ebook platforms such as the ones listed above. This is a very convenient and hassle-free approach, but that convenience does come at a certain cost in the form of a certain share of your royalties.
4. Spreading the Word
Now that you have your finished work that’s properly translated and localized, you need to start spreading the word. As a self-published author, you can first try networking with local literary influencers in your target market through social networks like WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram… that term can encompass owners of notable local book blogs, booktubers, and bookstagrammers too. Any literary authorities in that market.
5. Finding Your Voice
Don’t be discouraged! Write, write, write!!! Your writing style will be enriched with the help of a new language. Gain inspiration from other cultures. In short, you will have more sources to develop your distinct writing style.
Courage and keep going!