#Author, should you think about translating your book?

Hi all:

As some of you may know, apart from blogging here and in my own blog , I am a writer and I translate books from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English. A few months back and as part of a book fair I was asked to talk about translations and I prepared a few notes. Although the full speech is a bit lengthy for a single post, I thought that in preparation for further interviews with author translating their books (and by the way, any authors who’ve had their books translated to Spanish, I’d be more than happy to share them in my blog after the summer. Just get in touch)  I thought I’d share some of the thoughts I had on possible reasons to get one’s books translated.

Why would anybody want to have their books translated?

  • We all know how big a competition we face to try and sell books. Making it available to a wider audience is always a great idea. In the case of Spanish, it has 518 million speakers across the world, 427 as a native language. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is also used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, and the Union of South American Nations, and by many other international organizations.
  • These new markets are also less crowded. Although the offer in Spanish is increasing, the number of e-books available in Spanish is much smaller than that in English. And of course there are retailers that will be more interested in Spanish books.
  • The same as is the case in English, there are blogs, Facebook pages, reviewers, reporters, critics, writers and readers looking for books in Spanish. I can say that with regards to other writers, I’ve found it easier to get in contact with writers who are best-selling authors, even across the whole of Amazon, in the Spanish language, than it is getting to know the big sellers in English. (Of course, some markets like Amazon Spain or Mexico are smaller, but still…)
  • One never knows when chance of pure luck might strike. I know a Spanish writer called Enrique Laso, whose books have been translated to many languages and who told me that although he has no idea why, his books translated to Greek have been great hits there. It’s impossible to know what might strike a chord with readers in a particular market.
  • I’ve read many posts by writers talking about how exciting it is to see your first book published and, in the case of paperback, have it in your hands. Well, I must confess seeing one of my books translated to Chinese made me feel equally excited. (Although you won’t be able to buy it in Amazon.Chn is also available in Amazon.com…) And I had to share it here.

    Twin Evils? Chinese cover. Of course it's also available in English and in Spanish as 'Gemela Maldad'
    Twin Evils? Chinese cover. Of course it’s also available in English and in Spanish as ‘Gemela Maldad’
  • I know of authors who are working on the idea of publishing their books in bilingual editions and indeed they might provide a good option for marketing as an aid to language learning.

Thanks to you all for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed the post, I might share some more bits of the full original, and please, share, like, comment and CLICK! 

Olga Núñez Miret


Author: olganm

I am a language teacher, writer, bookworm, and collaborator at Sants 3 Ràdio (a local radio station in Barcelona, where I returned in 2018), who lived in the UK for 25 years and worked for many years as a forensic psychiatrist there. I also have a Ph.D. in American Literature and an MSc in Criminology. I started publishing my stories, in English and Spanish, in 2012 and now have over twenty books available in a variety of genres, a blog (in English and Spanish), and translate books for other authors (English-Spanish and vice versa). In 2020 obtained the CELTA certificate as a language teacher, and offer Spanish and English classes. Writers and readers both in English and Spanish are my friends, colleagues, and allies, and after living in the UK for over twenty-five years, have returned home, to Barcelona, Spain, searching for inspiration for my stories. I also love owls and try to keep fit following fitness YouTube videos. Do feel free to connect with me. Here are: My website/blog: http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

41 thoughts on “#Author, should you think about translating your book?”

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Olga Nunez Miret is one of my personally recommended author services and once we are settled I shall certainly be taking advantage of her translation services for at least two of my books. It is an opportunity to bring your book to a different and emerging market in Spanish particularly.. Head over and get the details from Olga on Lit World Interviews.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Judith. Do they have the translation rights to your books? I know of some writers who managed to negotiate theirs back if their publishing companies weren’t interested…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Olga. It’s so fun to see your book with the Chinese cover! Thanks for sharing that. I do hope you’ll keep us posted about anything interesting that happens with that translation. I know you mentioned elsewhere about a cultural issue about the devil that had to be worked out with the translators. Communications are fascinating.
    The information about the different organizations where Spanish is an official language was truly interesting.
    I definitely want you to translate my novels — once I’m able to effectively market them.
    Shared this everywhere. Have a beautiful new week! Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Teagan. You know I’d love to work translating your novels, and of course, as I told Sally, you can count on
      Yes, I’ll talk about the method Fiberead uses as it’s as fascinating as seeing your work translated. Family, Lust and Cameras has also been published in Chinese in some places. So far I have more five star reviews in my Chinese version of Twin Evils? than in the English or the Spanish one. They are also working on both the books I’ve published so far on the Escaping Psychiatry series.
      I might share more of the original article I prepared in coming weeks. There’s a lot to talk about, for sure.
      Have a great week. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d love to see my books open to a Hispanic market. Not sure if Create Space retains translation rights, but I doubt it. What do you think? and what does a translation cost?


    1. No, Noelle. Create Space has not rights to your work. If you’ve published using their ISBN they’ll appear as your publisher, but they have no other role to play. It’s a self-publishing place. The price of translations depend on the translator and the way you decide to go. There are places like Babelcube (Babelcube.com) where you can post your work and if a translator is interested you split the royalties (minus a percentage for Babelcube that organise the rest, including the distribution of the book, but in that case the right to the translations belongs to them, if I recall correctly for 7 years. There’s no guarantee that you’ll find somebody or the translation will be sound, although you can check and approve or not. I’m trying it, but in two cases the translations are well overdue and have heard nothing…). There are places like Upwork or Fiverr where you can try and find somebody and there will be many different prices on offer. My personal prices are mentioned here http://authortranslatorolga.com/olga-the-author/ And here some examples of books I’ve translated: http://authortranslatorolga.com/translationstraducciones/ Although I always offer discounts to friends. Don’t hesitate to get in touch and we could always sort something out (and I’m also happy to have a quick look at other people’s translations). Thrillers sell well in Spanish too, for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your detailed reply, Olga. I plan to get through the release and early marketing of my third mystery and then will seriously think about this. And talk more with you . How do you get the translated book into the right market(s)?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks Noelle. That’s the million dollar question, I guess. Of course Amazon carries book in Spanish, and the same as in English they are the biggest player. I sell all my books in the same places in Spanish and in English: Google, i-tunes, KOBO, Barnes & Noble… Streetlib distribute self-published books (also produce, etc, similar to Smashwords and are also working with Babelcube) and they are based in Italy and distribute to many other markets, including Spanish places like la Casa del Libro… So there are many options and expanding. Of course there are also big and small publishers publishing in Spanish. I’m joining a cooperative of Spanish authors that will have their select and publish their own books (in paper) and distribute to bookshops and organise book fairs and signings. It’s early days but they might become an interesting option.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’ll put this on my plate for sometime in the fall. If I don’t mention it again, just figure it got lost in my Swiss cheese brain and give me a reminder!


    1. Hi, Gigi. See my reply to Noelle for a few more suggestions. Babelcube offer translations to mostly European languages for split royalties. As I mention in my post to Noelle I offer discounts myself, especially to colleagues whom I’ve met through this blog or my own. 🙂


  4. Ideally, I would like to see many books translated, even the one I am working on. It gives many more people the opportunity to read what is available. Being a native English speaker (Okay, American-ese to many) living in France, there are a number of people interested in my writing and want it translated.
    The double edge here is that not all translators are the same and I have seen some terrible translations. A renowned Poet, author, and much more who is French and has had a significant amount of her work translated and I have a copy of some which is appalling. She doesn’t speak English much less write it. The translator on the book of poems I have is a linguistics professor at a prominent university. It does give one pause. If one doesn’t speak or read that language how do they know that the translation of their work is what they wrote. I do know enough French to know how bad it was and the English, was shocking.
    I actually had someone in mind to help me but unfortunately, she is no longer with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true. One of the parts of the article I originally prepared mentions authors who’ve translated others (like Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luís Borges and Haruki Murakami) and translators who’ve been given awards for their translations. It seems translators in Canada (good translators) are highly regarded. It is a difficult choice to make between going for a literal translation (translating exactly what’s on the page as closely as possible as it is written) and doing a transparent translation (translating it into something that will sound natural to the native reader). It’s a difficult call to make, especially depending on the nature of the original text. How to render poetic language is a debate in its own right. Of course this is not only a difficulty for independent writers. Most big literary works (classics) have seen many translations, and they are reinterpreted often. There’s also such a thing as changing fashions. I’ve also seen some true horrors, but mostly these are due (I think) to people saying they are translating something and then they use Google translate or a similar tool (because of course it’s possible to use computer assisted translation, but from my limited experience with it, it’s better suited to documents and not to literature). There’s no escaping that the reading of a book is subjective, and two different people who are competent in a language might choose to translate a paragraph in different ways, that would both be true to the text but stylistically different. I’m always happy to read through other people’s translations (what I’ve found more often than not is that things are missing, sometimes whole chapters, that is nothing to do with skills. It seems people either get tired or don’t check). If you know somebody who speaks the language it’s always an option to ask them to check the translation for you, or have a proofreader or an editor in the language go over it (after all, with the best will in the world, everybody makes mistakes) but how much would their opinion and yours agree…
      Some authors are guided by possible negative comments of the finished work, but I’ve seen trolls even there, and I’ve seen people commenting on the poor quality of a translation, when the book is the original and has not been translated.
      I’d never be as daring as to try and translated a book of poems (perhaps a poet would be the best to do that or somebody very in tune with the writer).
      It might be possible to check awards given to translators into the target language or see which translators seem to be favoured by either publishing companies or writers you respect, as a way of identifying somebody you might want to work with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, thank you. While the idea is lovely it is still a case of ‘buyer beware’ as not all translators are as well schooled as others. While I am currently working on a book, I do have two poetry collections already out there but have stayed with English. The book I am working on and one of the poetry collections on my computer (to be published) are ones I would be interested in finding someone when the time comes. You are right, I would trust my poetry to a translator that didn’t also write poetry, have a poetic heart.
        Then there are the very few, such as the great Pablo Neruda whose work transcends language. I don’t know Spanish but I get his message and love reading his work. One sort of FEELS NERUDA!


      2. Olga, you make some very good points in this reply. I’d be interested in reading the entire article you originally prepared. Will you be posting it anywhere? If it’s very long, a downloadable PDF version would be great!


  5. Thank you for this thought-provoking article. Many of your responses to the comments are very informative as well. I was appalled, for example, to learn that there are people who market themselves as “translators” but use Google Translate. It’s also good to know that CreateSpace doesn’t own the rights to one’s work, and that Babelcube would, if used, own the rights to their translation of one’s work for some years. That Bablecube offers distribution of the translated work is also of interest, although I wonder if it wouldn’t be less expensive to use independent distributors in each country.
    You mentioned your Escaping Psychiatry books. I’d been interested in them before, so I looked the series up again on Amazon. I discovered to my delight that the prequel novellla, Beginnings: Escaping Psychiatry Prequel, is free on Amazon. It sounds fascinating, and I’ll be reading it in the not-too-distant future. The other books in the series are priced inexpensively as well.
    I’ve saved a draft of this post for reblogging, but I like to add a description of the article, something about the author, and links to their site (in addition to the source site) when I reblog a post. It may therefore take me a couple of days to publish it.
    Congratulations on having Twin Evils? published in Chinese! I hope you’ll write a post about how it fares.


    1. Thanks so much, Connie. You’re a star. I hope you enjoy the novella. I’m working on the next one in the Escaping Psychiatry series (my editor is having a look at it). If you like YA books the first novel in the trilogy Angelic Business, Pink Matters, is also available free. From the comments it seems that people are interested in the topic and I’m likely to keep sharing other bits of the article and also elaborate more on some aspects of it. (I initially prepared it as a talk and I planned to build up on some points according to the interest of the people in attendance).
      With regards to your comments on distributing to individual places, it’s labour intensive. In some stores and locations (for instance India) there’s no way to self-publish or submit your manuscript directly (I’m checking because a friend is translating one of my novels into modern arabic, and although there are digital shops selling digital books, they don’t seem geared towards self-publishing either), and in others the setting isn’t very user friendly (Casa de Libro in Spain, requires you to have a bank account in Spain and does not accept others).
      Fiberead only seem to update reports on sales every so many weeks and it seems that whilst Amazon China reports regularly, some of the other stores don’t, so it might be a while. I am thinking about talking about the Fiberead experience a bit more next week, because it’s an eye opener in more ways than one.
      In case you need anything else, you’ve probably been there already, but I have more info on everything in my own blog:
      Thanks, Connie and good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

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