It’s a subject most self-published authors avoid and I don’t blame them, translating a book seems complicated as well as expensive. It’s murky territory, where we’re flying blind because we don’t speak the language. I mean could you imagine embarrassing yourself in another country? So out of fear we indies stay put in the shallow waters too terrified to dip our toes in the deeper parts of the pool. Well, I’m getting my poodle noodle as well as my floaties and I’m diving in.
Before I go on, I’m not discussing selling your foreign rights, that’s a completely different issue which I’ll discuss next week. Today, I’m simply discussing translating your book and all the things that come along with it.
You’ll Need Two People To Help You
First you’re going to need a translator, you can find these people all over the place. The more established (expensive) translators can be found at the International Federation of Translators as well as the American Translators’ Association.
Many (cheaper) freelance translators can also be found at Elance, Odesk as well as Guru, the online outsourcing sites. Now before you hire someone, please consider everything you’ll need to have translated. Believe it or not, it’s not only your book you’ll need to have translated. You’ll also need to translate the title of your book and any subtitles, your book blurbs, as well as your new Amazon author page. Here are some more things to consider translating as well:
• Newsletters. You do plan on capturing emails in your ebook, right?
• Social Media Posts
• Interviews/ Blog Posts
• Website landing/sales pages
Once your book has been translated, now you’ll need to find a line editor who specializes in your language of choice. You can also find line editors at Elance, and Odesk as well.
Important Tip: When contracting this type of work out, make sure to discuss the terms of the rights of the translation. In some countries the translators own part of the rights of the translated version of your book, meaning they get a cut of the royalties, so be sure you’re clear in your contract about who owns what. However, if you’re smart, you can use this to your advantage and insist in your contract that if the translator owns part of the rights to your book, then they must help you with promotion. Hey, it’s only fair!
This is the more expensive way to translate your book however, long term it’s the most profitable. But there is another cheaper, way to translate your work…
Bablecube: The Poor Author’s Translator?
Bablecube is the only online website that I can find that offers translations services for no upfront fee. However, there is a catch, you must share royalties with the site as well as the translator. The split is 50% for the translator, 30% for Bablecube, 20% for the publisher (you). This means if you want to make big bucks off of your translations, you’ll have to price your book reasonably in order to get a decent cut of the profits. But there’s more…
There are issues that I find troubling with Bablecube. For one, you must keep your book on the market for 5 years as explained in their FAQs. (Click on the link that says Rights to the Translated Version of the Book) This is done so authors can’t grab free translations and skip town, leaving the translator broke. Also, Bablecube holds the distribution rights of your newly translated book for 5 years. This could be a huge problem with indies who are still shopping their work around to traditional publishers. Many publishers want you to own the rights before they’ll even think about purchasing a manuscript.
Another thing I noticed is that some authors upload their work to the site only to find that no one is interested in translating it. That could be because of genre or even a poorly designed cover, who knows? Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the translators as to which project they’ll choose.
Reviews & Beta Readers
Now that you’ve gotten your book translated and uploaded, you’ll need reviews and beta readers. You can go to Goodreads or Shelfari to find native readers who can give an honest review. Just type in the search engine something like: “Arabic Literature” and see what comes up. You can do this on other social media sites as well.
You May Have To Change Your Cover
Have you noticed that a book published by a company like Random House usually has multiple versions of their book covers for various countries? Hopefully, you made sure to get all rights to your book’s cover, right? If not, you may have to use a different cover for the translated version of your book.
Another thing to consider, are trigger happy censors in certain countries. Places like the Middle East, Asia and even Eastern Europe have some of the most notorious (annoying) censors who won’t hesitate to ban a book whose cover they consider obscene or controversial. This affects those writing in the romance or erotica genres the most. Your best bet is to investigate the books in your genre in the particular country you’re targeting and see what’s acceptable, cover wise.
I know I’ve given you a lot of information and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Take it slow and test the waters with one book then, expand gradually with your other work.
Pre-launches are a confusing issue for indies, many mistake pre-selling as pre-launching however a pre-launch is the issuing of a book for industry purposes and not necessarily for public consumption. Actually, a pre-launch is a powerful tool and can get the ball rolling when it comes to sales and reviews. In fact, a pre-launch is a business plan for your book. Simply clicking publish is not a pre-launch. Many authors think that uploading their book to Amazon is the sum total of indie publishing when in fact, it’s only the beginning of the journey. Today, I’ll lay out the basics in a pre-launch, and give a bucket list of things you should consider after you publish.
Elements of a Successful Pre-Launch
If this is your first book, it may take some experimentation and research to figure out where to put your time and money when it comes to promoting your book. That means rolling up your sleeves and figuring out where your readers are. But there’s no need to despair, if you make a pre-launch list things shouldn’t get that overwhelming. Here was the one I came up with:
• Query magazines, bloggers or podcasters about interviews
• Connect with Social Media Influencers
• Reach out to reviewers
• Schedule posts for your social media accounts and your blog
• Schedule advertising for major newsletters/ book sites
• Build up your email list.
Tip: The first thing you want to attack on your itinerary list is querying reviewers because you’ll need to give them plenty of time to read your book and write an intelligent review. That could take a few months especially, if we’re talking about a popular blogger.
Bonus Tip: The second thing you’ll need to do is to schedule a date for an ad before all the good dates are taken like Christmas and Thanksgiving.
If you’re thinking, geez this is a lot of work, you’d be right. A pre-launch is nothing to laugh at, it’s as time consuming and emotionally draining as writing a book. During your pre-launch you will essentially become a project manager and will have to make sure things are done on time and on budget. After all, you don’t wanna disappoint the boss (your readers) by delivering a sloppy product. If things become too overwhelming you may want to consider hiring some help to help ease the burden.
You’re Allowed to get it Wrong: Launching and Relaunching
The cool thing about indie books is that they can be launch and relaunch sometimes, years later. This is something the traditionally published author can’t brag about. Yes, some trade books are rereleased but only if they’re bestsellers. However sadly, most books in the trade pub world are treated like fruit that will rot on store shelves. Indie authors don’t have this concern. If our books aren’t selling, we can take our work down, and change our manuscript, get a new cover or even change the title then, relaunch. Now how many Big 5 authors can brag about that?
In fact, many self-published authors have given readers second and third editions of their books with multiple covers. And from what I’ve been told, yes, people will buy the same book with a different cover. Weird huh?
Well there you go, more info to digest before you launch your book. Don’t forget to hang around because next week, I’ll discuss the elements of successful blog tours and social media events.