It’s a dream of every book author to see their work translated into different languages. It means that you can make contact with people from different cultures and make a global impact. Having your book translated is the easiest way of increasing its influence around the world.
However, translated books are not all sunshine and rainbows. There have been many cases where foreign audiences didn’t like a book that was well-received in its home market. Thanks to the vast differences between cultures and languages, some great books might turn out a flop when poorly translated. So, to make sure that doesn’t happen to your book, follow these tips:
1. Do a research of the target market
Before you finalize the decision that you want to translate to a particular language, research its market. You have to make sure that the book has an equal or better chance to succeed than in the home market. Answer the following questions:
- Is the book genre equally popular in French/English?
- Are the characters going to be relatable to foreign audiences?
- Is this a culturally-specific story?
- Does the book deal with universal questions/problems/facts?
2. Write up an NDA
Many book authors forget about this, but it’s incredibly important. If you want to publish simultaneously in your home market and in France (or other French-speaking countries), an NDA will help you protect your work from being talked about in the public.
An NDA stands for non-disclosure agreement and it denotes a confidentiality agreement between you, your translator, editor, proofreader and others involved in the process. The agreement guarantees that the translator will not leak any information about the book in public, nor that they are working on its translation at the moment (this can be discussed and arranged).
3. Hire professional translators
It’s absolutely recommended that you go with professional translation agencies when you want to translate a book from French to English. As you’re researching different agencies and companies, pay attention to whether they have previous experience with book translations. For example, certified translations services has specialized in book translations. As you know, writing and translating a book is something entirely different from textbooks or technical guides.
Some authors decide to look for individual native speakers who can translate their book at a cheap rate. However, this can end up badly as there are many scenarios in which working with a freelancer might be costlier. They cannot guarantee the same degree of reliability, professionalism and legality as a translation agency.
4. Hire professional editors and proofreaders
Just like the translation itself, editing and proofreading are to be better handed over to experts. At Isaccurate, that provides an online translation services review, you can find a company that employees French or English speakers who can take another look at your book once it’s translated. A translator and a proofreader of their work should be different persons. It sounds obvious, but paradoxically, many book translators end up being their own proofreaders.
Since you don’t speak the language, the only way to make sure that the book is top-notch is to hire top-notch editors and proofreaders. You shouldn’t avoid this investment because mistakes and inconsistencies will reflect badly on your book.
5. Discuss intellectual property rights
Just like with an NDA, it’s important to define the legal terms of cooperation between you and your translator. In some cases, translators are paid out with a one-time fee and they transfer the right to intellectual property over to the author. In other cases, translators have shared intellectual property with the author. In some, however, translators have full intellectual property over the book translation, but they share the earnings with the author.
As you can see, there are many directions legal agreements can go when it comes to book translations. As an author, your optimal mode of cooperation would be any in which full intellectual property rights are transferred to you. This can even be arranged if the translator continues to be paid out over time in royalties from sales.
When you work with a translation agency that has experience in book translations, they will offer you their usual mode of work. This usually consists of a one-time payment and a small percentage of sales in royalties, but with full intellectual rights transferred over to you.
6. Discuss with your editor
All publishing companies have experience with translation companies. If you’re not sure who should translate your book from French to English or vice versa, just ask your editor or another person in your publishing company for advice. Chances are, some of their books have already been translated by someone, and maybe they have some good recommendations.
If you know of specific book translations from French to English that you liked, you can check out the credits to see who translated it. High-profile translators will usually only be available for bestsellers, but you should be able to land translators who are permanently employed in book translation agencies.
Thanks to our connected and globalized world, it’s not hard to find someone to translate your book from French to English or vice versa. However, you should vet anyone you plan on working with, regardless of whether you’re looking at a company or an individual. It’s always recommended that you go with agencies instead of freelancers. You would be better off working with someone who knows how serious and professional a job translation is.
Also, make sure you pay attention to the legal side of publishing in a foreign language. Many book authors take this as a given, but you have to define the terms of royalty payments/one-off fees when you’re working with book translators.
Mark Blackwood is a professional translator and writer specializing in literature and art. Before translation, he was also in publishing and helped discover many debut authors. Nowadays, he’s focusing on the theoretical side of linguistics and learning a new language.