Self-publishing is exciting, and having your book translated can make it even more exciting. As a translation project manager, I work with major publishers and self-publishing authors. In this article I will point out how the translation process can be both effective and enjoyable.
1. Consider language service providers that are specialized in book translations. They have a valuable international network of translators, writers, editors and publishers; they can easily find the right translator for you: someone who is excited about your book. Also, the agency can help you market your book at little or no extra cost.
2. Make sure your manuscript is definite and does not need updating. It is practically impossible and risky to change or even slightly modify the content once the translation process has started.
3. It is worth inquiring about royalty-based agreements. Sometimes it is possible to cover part of the translation costs this way. Another option is to consider crowdfunding – it has been done before. Our translation prices for 10.000+ words, for Western languages, range between $0.09-$0.12 per word, which includes editing rounds and project management. Lower prices could compromise quality and may be too good to be true. Agencies are not always more expensive than freelancers, as explained in point 7 of this article.
4. Before you give the job to anyone, ask the following question to the language service provider: what do you consider a good translation? It’s important that you are on the same page with the language service provider in order to prevent being disappointed. Our professional goals are, in order of importance:
1) Accuracy – conveying the message without adding or twisting information or leaving anything out.
2) Readability – correct spelling, grammar, creating a well-written text. Can be edited multiple times to get the right results.
3) Style – creating a style similar to the author’s in the new language.
5. Make sure you get a free, no-strings-attached test translation and, if possible, have it checked by another, independent native speaker whom you know personally. Language is subjective and nuanced. Any language service provider should be happy to make a free test translation that reflects their work. Usually these tests are about 400-1000 words and consist of an excerpt that needs a creative approach.
6. Ask the agency if the translator lives in the country where the book will eventually be published. My experience is that translations are generally better when the translator lives in the country where the book will become available. They are more up-to-date with modern regional vocabulary and more in touch with local readers.
7. Know that creating a good translation is teamwork. A project manager, translator and editor(s) must work together to get the best result. They know how to make sure the reader does not notice that they are reading a translation.
8. Be available for questions throughout the translation process. You, the author, know the message your book conveys better than anyone. If you are willing to provide feedback in the early stages and explain your message further when asked, the translation will be better.
9. Trust the professionals. Do not get suspicious when the sentence structure is different or doubt the choice of words. It’s their mother tongue and their profession. Agencies continuously check the quality of their translators and your project manager should be able to answer any questions you may have.
10. Understand that a book translation is not immediately ready for publication. After typesetting it needs to be edited and proofread multiple times.