Translating Your Book in 3 Steps

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It’s a big world out there, and storytelling is one of the oldest threads connecting us all. Telling stories is part of being human, a cherished tradition found in just about every culture. It’s one of the basic fabrics of our global society, and though stories can transcend cultural and historical barriers, the same doesn’t apply to language. 

Translating your book into another language can open up a whole new market and allow you to build a fanbase in an entirely different country. It’ll enable you to connect with countless new readers and share your story with people from various backgrounds. However, this is the publishing industry, so it’s going to take time, money, and hard work (especially if you want to do it yourself). 

If you’re ready to hire a professional translator, check out our literary translation services, which can render your book into over 90 languages. First, though, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

1. Establish your target audience 

Who are you translating your book for? That’s the first question you have to ask yourself. Of course, all writers dream of having their books printed in multiple languages, earning praise around the world. However, with over 7,000 languages spoken around the world, you must first determine in what regions or countries your book will succeed before you go through with the translation process. 

You’ll need to do some research to figure out which countries offer the best market for books originally published in English (India, Turkey, and China being among them). Find out which genres sell best in these countries, what similar books have been published there recently and how well they’ve done, and how your book will stand out in that particular market. 

Also, consider any censorship laws that may exist in your target country before going ahead with your translation and whether you’re willing to comply with such laws to get your book into that country. Depending on your values, you may prefer to avoid certain markets for ethical reasons, even if they are potentially lucrative. If you don’t speak the target language, it will be helpful to hire a professional translator to assist you with the research or query an agent who already works in your target market. 

You may also choose the languages to translate in by first studying where your genre is most popular rather than looking at the biggest overall foreign book markets. There may be specific countries that your niche or story is strongly geared toward, even if they’re not usually the first choice for most book translations.

If your book is already selling online, a good place to start your research is by checking your sales information, which can help you determine if English speakers from foreign countries are interested in your book. While this could simply mean there are a lot of English-speaking expats there, it could also indicate potential interest in that country.

2. Translate the text

Once you’ve established your target audience (and thus your target language), it’s time to start the actual translation process. Unless you’re an experienced translator yourself, we strongly suggest that you hire a professional literary translation service. It’s important to have your text translated by someone who isn’t only fluent in the target language and has experience as a translator but also understands the culture so all the nuances in your original text are preserved and faithfully transmitted to your new audience. After all, translation is a lot more than just replacing English words with foreign ones, and literary translators must exercise a remarkable degree of creativity and innovation to ensure the translated work conveys the same story while reading as smoothly as the original text.

Whether you decide to work with a freelance translator or a translation agency, make sure it’s clear who will hold the rights to the translated version of your book and what the timeframe is to avoid any misunderstandings. Only hire someone reputable, experienced, and knowledgeable to ensure a high-quality translation. While low rates may be tempting, you’d be risking the quality of the translation and consequently your success in the new market.

You can also use machine translation for the first draft, but we don’t recommend this method. Even though there are some paid programs that offer high-quality translations, you will need to have it checked by a professional afterwards; this might not be worth the time and effort unless you are fluent in the target language and can double-check the automated translation yourself. Even then, it’s generally not a good idea. Machines don’t have the acute human awareness needed to understand literature, and much of the art could easily be lost in translation with a subpar machine translator.

3. Edit the translated text

Just like your original book, your translated text should be edited and proofread by a professional. You want the standard of your translated work to match the original, and any typos, mechanical errors, or inaccuracies in the translation can have a serious impact on your book’s chances of success abroad. Also, translators are paid to translate, not edit, so don’t expect them to do both jobs. 

To avoid any mishaps and save yourself lots of time and energy, check out our end-to-end literary translation services and get ready to share your story with the world. 

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