If you are looking to sell your book internationally, something to consider is the option to localize your book by translating it into other languages. Translation is more than a plug and chug. Harry Potter has been translated into 68 languages and each translation needed to edit all the anagrams and acronyms so they worked in that language.
Image Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/harrypotter/comments/316sv4/voldemorts_middle_name_in_french/
Here are some things to consider before you commit to the translation process.
Does your publisher already do this for you?
Check with your publisher, if they distribute internationally there may be translators who work with them directly. The price for this service may be included, or it may be extra. Alternatively, you may be responsible for finding your own translator.
This is certainly true if you are self-publishing!
Either way, make sure that you maintain the rights to your novel in order to do so.
What countries will your story do well in?
There are a lot of languages in the world. It would be very time consuming to translate your book into all of them. It would also be expensive.
I would recommend translating it into the languages that are most widely spoken. Also, if the English version of your novel is selling well internationally, look and see in which countries it is doing the best. If it is already resonating with the English-speaking readers in that country, there may be a market for the book with the speakers of that country’s native language as well.
Freelance or service?
When you are looking for a translator, you can either look for a translating service or for an individual freelance translator. For either, make sure that you check out the reviews on the service they provide. If you already distribute through Amazon, check out their translation service Amazon Crossing.
Additionally, get a quote and compare price points. Some translators provide their services by the word, some by the page, some by project, and some by time. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth. Be aware that some services, like Babelcube, may ask for a commission.
Make sure that the translator you choose is confident in your genre. If your book is a romance and the translator typically does textbooks it may not be the best fit. Imagery and metaphors can be lost if the translations are too literal. Don’t forget to translate the bio, summary, and any other superfluous text you may need.
You shouldn’t try to translate by yourself unless you are fluent. If you are fluent in the target language—great! Who knows your book better than you?
Regardless of who you get to translate your book, you should have it proofed by someone fluent in the language. Ideally this would be by someone who can test for faithfulness to the English version, but at the very least they should check that it makes sense and that there aren’t grammatical errors. This proof can be done by an editor or by beta readers (BookHive provided readers for a localized Russian story that was translated to English!).
EBook or physical copy?
If you are looking to sell a physical form of your translated book, check with your current publisher or distributor to see if they have protocols in place for this. You may have to resubmit the book; remember to make sure you maintain the rights to your story.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to distribute internationally is by selling an eBook or other electronic version, like an audiobook. Make sure that you put your eBook in the right language category when you submit it!
BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.
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Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.