Every author’s dream is to ultimately have their stories read by as many people around the world as possible. Only 34% of the global ebook market is made up by UK and US publishers, and only about 17% percent of the world’s population speaks English. With these small percentages, indie authors choosing to stick to one language are at a disadvantage — you have no access to more than half the world’s readers.
Since indie authors are their own publishers, they own the rights to having their book translated. But that means you also have to take the risks of venturing on to a completely unknown market yourself.
Just because someone is bilingual doesn’t mean they’re automatically good at translating something. Sure, they can understand and converse in both languages fluently, but there are still standard writing practices and grammar rules when it comes to writing, which most people are not familiar with, unless they’re writers themselves. That’s why it’s important to find a qualified translator to do the job.
Here are three ways you can find a qualified translator for your book.
1. Hire a Freelance Translator
Hiring freelancers with the necessary qualifications is one of the easiest ways to get your book translated. There are plenty of sites offering the services of professional translators, like Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer. Since there are many options and countless qualified translators, you have the option to choose whom you think is best suited for your book, and allow you to negotiate prices, terms and conditions beforehand.
Specify your book’s requirements clearly — from the title to the back cover blurb, be clear about what you want. Go through their profiles and have a look at their skills and achievements.
2. Make Use of a Professional Translation Agency
Marketing to an audience you’re familiar with — like those who live in the same region and speak your native language — would already have been a nerve-wracking experience. Venturing into a foreign market might be even more of a daunting task.
Once you get your book translated by a freelance translator, how do you get that book to your readers? If you’re too unfamiliar with how these foreign markets work, and have no clue how to promote your book to this new audience, acquiring the services of a professional translation agency that also takes on the responsibility of marketing your book may be the best option for you — if you’re willing to pay a slightly higher cost.
Another advantage of a professional translation agency is that they are usually able to take on multilingual contracts — which is beneficial if you want to translate your book into several languages at the same time.
Working with an agency doesn’t mean you give them the rights to your book. They do the translation for a fee, and you’re still the sole owner of your book. An agency will also stick to deadlines and produce quality work, since they hire only the professionals in the field.
3. Babelcube and Other Translation Platforms
“Babelcube is effectively an online dating agency for writers and translators. Authors can post their books (together with a description and some paragraphs from each) and translators can post their availability (as well as their experience and author ratings),” says Ann Richardson, author of Wise Before Their Time (a book about people living with HIV/AIDS in the early 1990s), who used the platform to find translators for her book.
Platforms like Babelcube offer ways for indie authors — or even publishing companies — to form partnerships with highly qualified translators, while also providing means for the distribution of these books.
The risks, the budget, the preferred language of translation are all valid concerns when you first decide to translate your book, but the quality of the translation surpasses all of this.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.