Calling All Translators!

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dgaughran
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Calling All Translators!

Post by dgaughran » September 20th, 2011, 6:13 am

The opening of Amazon Spain on Wednesday and a planned Kindle Store for later this year, as well as widely rumored expansions into France, Italy, and India, has many writers thinking about international markets.

In my blog post on Friday, I discussed the opportunities that present themselves in Spain for self-publishers who aren’t hamstrung by territorial restrictions and whose competition will be high-priced books from local publishers, which Amazon are legally prevented from discounting by more than 5% for the first two years of publication.

Several commenters pointed out that for most writers the cost of a professional translation is prohibitive (running to several thousand dollars per book). And you really need a professional to do the job – automated software will make an unholy mess of your book, and someone without the requisite experience and qualifications can do just as badly.

I knew that Scott Nicholson had been pursuing a creative solution, and when he appeared in the comments hinting at that again, I emailed him for details, which he kindly agreed to share. In short, his idea is to pay no upfront fee to translators, instead sharing the profits with them.

It’s like a foreign language deal except there is no agent involved and no publisher. Which means more money for the writer and the translator, and cheaper books for the reader. Sounds a lot like indie publishing, right?

And it’s not just talk. Scott has struck deals in six languages to translate his books, and one of them – the German version of The Skull Ring, translated by Christa Polkinhorn, who Scott speaks very highly of - has already been a Top 100 smash there (until an Amazon snafu caused the book to be unpublished and lose all momentum).

I asked about the specifics, and Scott said:
I originally started out paying a 10 percent royalty but have increased it to 20 percent, even for translators who did the work for 10 percent (a retro raise). The 20 percent is off the net revenues of the translated edition. I pay quarterly, unless the payment is less than $20, in which case I roll it to the next quarter.

Every quarter I have to sit down and crunch the numbers, but I expect it to be the bulk of my income in a few years–and I suspect I will be way better off than those who sell their foreign rights through an agent.
Scott also agreed to let me reprint the relevant chapter from his superb book The Indie Journey: Secrets To Writing Success.

For obvious reasons, I can't reprint that excerpt here. But to read that, and to get more information on how we are putting together a list of interested translators, and a great discussion on how it will all work, please see my blog post: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011 ... ion-costs/
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longknife

Re: Calling All Translators!

Post by longknife » September 20th, 2011, 3:45 pm

One of the success so far of Amazon in foreign markets is the massive number of people in those countries WHO SPEAK ENGLISH and want to read in English.
The only value of translating is to service the older people who aren't fluent in English. So, anyone who has a book specifically for adults, it's a waste of time and money in my humble opinion.

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dgaughran
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Re: Calling All Translators!

Post by dgaughran » September 21st, 2011, 12:16 pm

Hi Dale,

I'm not sure where you are coming from here. Not everyone speaks English, and even out of those that do - most prefer to read in their own language (it takes less effort for one, and affords a more immersive reading experience, which is what we are all after when we pick up a novel).

In Spain for example (a huge market) English language books sell poorly. Same goes for France. Only in certain countries, such as in Scandinavia, do English language titles rival local language sales.

There are 500 million Spanish speakers globally. The Spanish Kindle Store will open later in the year. There is opportunity there for those willing to think outside the box a little.

Books are a global business - worth around $85bn - of which the US is only responsible for around a third.

Dave
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Ryan
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Re: Calling All Translators!

Post by Ryan » September 21st, 2011, 12:35 pm

Exciting stuff!
Last edited by Ryan on April 25th, 2012, 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
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Ryan
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Re: Calling All Translators!

Post by Ryan » April 25th, 2012, 2:51 pm

Thought I'd bump this post up with all a lot of distributors opening "stores" in different countries.

What was/is the standard way of translating a book? Is there an upfront fee or does a translating entity get a cut of the international sales? Any companies out there that specialize in this?

Figured if I start looking into this stuff now, maybe in a couple of years I could have a Spanish, Chinese, and a Japanese version of my book out in the world. These things can take a while.... :)
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
http://www.withoutrain.com/

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