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Seeing My Book in Another Language

Author of Game of Mass Destruction and Drinking Poetry. Also writes on Vocal and Medium.

How I got translated as an indie author

I was always curious what my work would look like in another language. I wasn’t aware of the options available until I found Babelcube. Then I also discovered Tektime and Fiberead through social media. These three sites follow the same system: you up.pad your work, wait for it to be picked up by a translator then it will hopefully be published in your chosen language. The standards of the translations are exactly the same between these three sites. The only difference is the facilities.

There are several things to keep in mind. Fiberead only translates work in Chinese and cannot touch adult content. Tektime and Babelcube have several languages to choose from, and you also have the option to hire freelance translations. Babelcube have the better customer service whilst Tektime offers more languages and features such as more languages and audiobooks.

Fiberead offers:

  • Free translation in Chinese.
  • Royalty share.
  • Distribution to the Chinese market.

Babelcube offers:

  • Royalty shares between authors and translators.
  • Distributions to big retailers such as Amazon, Google Play and Barnes & Noble.
  • Inbox system to communicate.
  • Free translation. Not all translators are free on Tektime.

Tektime offers:

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  • Royalty shares between authors and translators.
  • Distributions to big retailers as well as their own e-book store.
  • Inbox system to communicate.
  • More languages than Babelcube.
  • Chance to have your book recorded like an audiobook. Could be a useful alternative to ACX and Findawayvoices.

Many Translation Projects Fall Through

The sad truth is that a lot of translation projects fall through on these websites. The main reason for this is that there is a lot of these projects are royalty shares. These can work out well in the long run, but the lack of money upfront can deter translators away and they will prioritise paid work over the royalty shares.

It is also very easy for a translator to get overwhelmed with the workload. They not only translate passages word for word, but also work around idioms that would get lost in translation. A lot of the romantic languages have genders in their words. It’s so fascinating how other languages have words and phrases that don’t have a literal translation in English.

Translation projects can take several months to produce depending on the book’s work count. In my experience, I have found that shorter books have a better chance of getting your books fully translated. My first book, Drinking Poetry has been translated into Spanish and Italian on Babelcube. Tektime have an Italian translation if this book too. I don’t speak or understand Italian but I noticed both translations are different.

A Different Kind of Relationship

All of my successful translation proposals have been where the translator made the first move. I do still make translation proposals, but sometime I don’t always hear back from them. I feel like translators don’t pick the projects they choose at random. I believe that if they find something they like they will make the translation proposal. I had some lovely comments from the translators.

I was grateful that the translators who approached me really enjoyed reading and translating my work. As an author, I already have an intimate relationship with my books after putting so much work in them. It’s a nice feeling that somebody else is also feeling that same feeling I did when I started writing on it.

Lost or Found in Translation

Some books would have very little chance getting translated on sites like these. Long books would be very hard To get done on sites like these. However, if you have made quite a lot of sales and you know there’s a demand for the genre your book is in, you can find success with these kind of sites. With the way the site works, the more books you sell, the higher your royalties will be as an author. At the beginning the royalty rates favour the translators, but these change as the sales volume increases. With these sites, you might not make a lot of money with them unless you sell thousands upon thousands, but it’s a great feeling to have your book translated in another language. It feels liberating for me to know that my work is out there in other languages.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Chloe Gilholy

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