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How do you start getting literary translation jobs?
Thread poster: Allison Menditto
Allison Menditto  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 1, 2003

Hello all,
I'm a Spanish to English Technical Translator but I have had many courses in Literature and would love to start getting into literary translation jobs. What is the best way to get some experience in literary translations? Do translators contact publishers or authors? Any info. would be appreciated.
Thank you,
Allison Menditto


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Francisco Herrerias  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:19
Member (2012)
French to Spanish
+ ...
BOTH Jul 2, 2003

Allison Menditto wrote:
Do translators contact publishers or authors?


BOTH... my experience is that you need to contact both, sometimes the publisher gives you the job, but sometimes the author wants you to do the job...

It all summarizes to Public Relations...


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Kevin Schlottmann  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:19
German to English
ALTA perhaps... Jul 2, 2003

The organization ALTA (American Literary Translators Association) might have insight as well, although I don't know how useful their information will be for Spain. Good luck!

http://www.literarytranslators.org/


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Alisha
Local time: 15:19
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience... Jul 2, 2003

Hi Allison,
I attended a master in literary translation last year and I found out it's very hard to become a literary translator. One day during a lesson held by an editor we asked him about how hard is getting a literary translation. I was so naiv that I thought a CV would be enough to start... but I was wrong. Many translators send CVs to editors and they don't even read them (because they receive a lot of curricula every day!). Instead of a detailed CV, he suggested to write a schedule of a book (unedited in your own language) you think would be of interest for an editor.
A few suggestions:
- The book should of course be unedited in your own language;
- Choose the editors carefully: check which kind of books are published by different editors and then pick up only those editors whose 'fields of interest' match with the book you would like to be translated in your own language.
- Attend as many Book Fairs as you can: it will help you not only to 'get known' by editors (Public Relationships are fundamental), but also to see which are the market trends at the moment (i.e. which kind of books are published).
I hope this will help in some way! Good Luck.
Lucy/Alisha


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Allison Menditto  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you. And how would you go about contacting authors and publishers? Emailing resumes? Thanks Jul 2, 2003

Allison Menditto wrote:

Hello all,
I'm a Spanish to English Technical Translator but I have had many courses in Literature and would love to start getting into literary translation jobs. What is the best way to get some experience in literary translations? Do translators contact publishers or authors? Any info. would be appreciated.
Thank you,
Allison Menditto


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:19
Member
English to Turkish
I don't recommend Jul 3, 2003

Allison Menditto wrote:

Allison Menditto wrote:

Hello all,
I'm a Spanish to English Technical Translator but I have had many courses in Literature and would love to start getting into literary translation jobs. What is the best way to get some experience in literary translations? Do translators contact publishers or authors? Any info. would be appreciated.
Thank you,
Allison Menditto


e-mailing resumés, for I'm not sure they will be read at all. Please note that my working experience is limited to the Turkish publishing environment, but I hope it can give you some general clues.

In today's world so many books are being published, and publishers will be interested in finding those that would stand out. To establish contact with the publishers, you can first select a book, translate parts of it to show your talent and capability, and then knock a publisher's door to suggest that book. With regard to establishing contacts within the publishing environment, this is, I believe, a much better way than sending out resumés. It's also necessary and important to follow the book fairs as one of our colleagues suggested above - both to find out about new publications, and to get in personal, live touch with publishers, editors and authors. (In the Turkish publishing environment heavy drinking capabilities are a plus in keeping these contacts viable, though, but I don't know if this applies elsewhere )

Another way is to get in touch with the authors. You may also choose to specialize on a certain author, and if that's a living author, you should again contact them of course, express your interest in translating their work, explain your reasons for wishing to translate the work X, and again presenting them with a short sample translation maybe... and so forth.

In short, focusing on a certain author or a literary genre or period, maybe even making a list, then making the translation of a chapter, could be what you're supposed to take as the preparatory steps to establishing contacts with the literary/publishing world. Once you've drawn their attention this way, you can present them with your resumé or background to make your case stronger - though I still am not sure if this will ever be necessary. It's also important to get a grip of what would sell best at that particular moment, to present the publishers with what would catch up on the Geist der Zeit, so to speak. Some literary works are timeless, but most sell best because they are published at the right moment (or don't sell only because they are there at the wrongest possible moment). So try to see this from the point of view of an editor, at least initially.

It might be a risky way, but no pain, no gain rule applies here maybe more than elsewhere. And, oh... of course you should be persistent in your efforts, never, ever losing heart.

It may be a slow-moving process -although it might well develop unexpectedly fast, as well- but with perseverance and hard work you will make it sooner or later, and in time you will come to see that they're knocking your door.

I wish you lots and lots of luck !!


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Allison Menditto  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you so much for your advice! Jul 3, 2003

Xola wrote:

Allison Menditto wrote:

Allison Menditto wrote:

Hello all,
I'm a Spanish to English Technical Translator but I have had many courses in Literature and would love to start getting into literary translation jobs. What is the best way to get some experience in literary translations? Do translators contact publishers or authors? Any info. would be appreciated.
Thank you,
Allison Menditto


e-mailing resumés, for I'm not sure they will be read at all. Please note that my working experience is limited to the Turkish publishing environment, but I hope it can give you some general clues.

In today's world so many books are being published, and publishers will be interested in finding those that would stand out. To establish contact with the publishers, you can first select a book, translate parts of it to show your talent and capability, and then knock a publisher's door to suggest that book. With regard to establishing contacts within the publishing environment, this is, I believe, a much better way than sending out resumés. It's also necessary and important to follow the book fairs as one of our colleagues suggested above - both to find out about new publications, and to get in personal, live touch with publishers, editors and authors. (In the Turkish publishing environment heavy drinking capabilities are a plus in keeping these contacts viable, though, but I don't know if this applies elsewhere )

Another way is to get in touch with the authors. You may also choose to specialize on a certain author, and if that's a living author, you should again contact them of course, express your interest in translating their work, explain your reasons for wishing to translate the work X, and again presenting them with a short sample translation maybe... and so forth.

In short, focusing on a certain author or a literary genre or period, maybe even making a list, then making the translation of a chapter, could be what you're supposed to take as the preparatory steps to establishing contacts with the literary/publishing world. Once you've drawn their attention this way, you can present them with your resumé or background to make your case stronger - though I still am not sure if this will ever be necessary. It's also important to get a grip of what would sell best at that particular moment, to present the publishers with what would catch up on the Geist der Zeit, so to speak. Some literary works are timeless, but most sell best because they are published at the right moment (or don't sell only because they are there at the wrongest possible moment). So try to see this from the point of view of an editor, at least initially.

It might be a risky way, but no pain, no gain rule applies here maybe more than elsewhere. And, oh... of course you should be persistent in your efforts, never, ever losing heart.

It may be a slow-moving process -although it might well develop unexpectedly fast, as well- but with perseverance and hard work you will make it sooner or later, and in time you will come to see that they're knocking your door.

I wish you lots and lots of luck !!


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