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What do you think about babelcube?
Thread poster: Juliano Martins

Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Apr 20, 2015

Hello everyone,

Have you ever hear about a website called babelcube? It’s a website where authors post their books, and translators make offers to translate those books. The thing is that the book is translated for free, and after the work is done, if the book is sold in that target language, then the translator, the author and the website share the royalties. I started using this website 2 weeks ago and I was assigned 2 books so far. At least I am enjoying doing it. I hope to earn some money besides the learning experience. It seems to be an interesting idea. Well, take a look and let me know what you think.

Kind regards!


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Previously discussed in another thread (link below) Apr 20, 2015

Personally, I think it's a waste of your time. You would be better off spending time writing your own books and selling them and you would retain all the profits, rather than translating another person's work and getting nothing or very little. For example, for a 50,000 word book, you will only get .02 a word IF (and that's a big IF), the book (your translation) makes 2,000 (and at 1.99 a book, minus other fees, that's not going to happen - most ebooks sell under 100 copies, or in other words, you will get 0.0022 per word or $110 for translating 50,000 words).

You have no control over how and how much the translation is promoted. Not to mention the fact that the author could decide to unpublish the book at any time at his/her discretion:

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/269558-translating_books_for_royalty_fees_only.html


[Edited at 2015-04-20 16:46 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I would advise against it Apr 20, 2015

I would advise against it.

I often see posts here from translators who are so eager to translate a book that they are willing to do it speculatively, sharing the risk with the author and in the complete absence of a publisher.

Whilst I can understand your enthusiasm, I would strongly advise you not to do this - unless you have absolutely nothing else to do and no paid work for the next few months, and assuming that you are willing to be disappointed if your translation never sees the light of day, or worse still, by the thought that your translation might be published but that you might never hear about it and never see any royalties.

Speaking as a published author, and the translator of various published books by other authors, I think I know a little bit about the publishing business and the sharks that infest those murky waters.


[Edited at 2015-04-20 16:12 GMT]


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Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I will try it anyway Apr 20, 2015

I don’t intend to stop working for my usual paying clients, and I have plenty of work to do. I will translate these books during my free time (we do all kinds of things for free anyway: watch TV, read books, play games, etc.). Thanks for the tips. I really want to see where all this will take me.

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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 14:05
Japanese to English
Thank you Apr 20, 2015

Thanks for going ahead with it. I wouldn't do it personally for the reasons the others have stated above, so I'm glad you're doing it so I can do it vicariously through you. Do keep us posted on how you get on and how much money you make when your books are published.

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Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Of course Apr 20, 2015

Yes, I will keep you posted on everything. I was assigned 2 books so far. One of them has 38K words (which I want to deliver in one month) and the other one has 103K words (and I will need around 3 months). I will do everything simultaneously with my usual paid jobs, as I said. I know it’s not a short-term enterprise, so we have to be patient about the results.

When I started translating 7 years ago, some people told me I shouldn’t do it, because I had no experience and I was giving up on a career as a civil servant in a very stable, well-paid systems analyst job. But I did it and it was fine. I certainly have earned much more money as a translator than in the IT field (I graduated in Computer Science, which is a very nice field to work on), and also working with languages is my passion. I have translated/proofed over 10.4 million words so far, and I want to do books now in order to try something different. Let’s see!


[Edited at 2015-04-20 18:23 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You see people.... Apr 20, 2015

..there really are translators willing to work for free. I'd rather donate an organ than translate 140,000 words for nothing while the company earns money. Or translate them for a charity I support.

If you did the math, you will see that the MAXIMUM you can earn from translating that book is $2,900 or 0.028 per word and that's only if it ends up being a bestseller.


Juliano Martins wrote:

Yes, I will keep you posted on everything. I was assigned 2 books so far. One of them has 38K words (which I want to deliver in one month) and the other one has 103K words (and I will need around 3 months). I will do everything simultaneously with my usual paid jobs, as I said. I know it’s not a short-term enterprise, so we have to be patient about the results.




[Edited at 2015-04-20 19:00 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-04-20 19:01 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Italian saying Apr 20, 2015

"Ciò che costa niente vale niente".

=

"What costs nothing is worth nothing"


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Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Math exercise Apr 20, 2015

When a person writes a book, they don’t know if the book will sell. Given that, should all writers give up on writing just because they can’t predict the future? No.

How many words have you written in this forum, Jeff? Did you get paid for them? I don’t think so. Many things we do don’t pay money.

Ok, let’s do a little math exercise. According to your profile, you have over 20 years of experience, that is, 3 times as much as me (almost 7 years). You have translated 10 million words, me too. That is, I am 3 times faster than you. Therefore, I can use all that extra super speed I have to spend on translating books, with a chance of earning some money in the end, but in the worst-case scenario, I will have learned stuff, including how to write books. What do you think?


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Hebat-Allah El Ashmawy  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 16:05
Italian to Arabic
+ ...
Already collaborating with BABELCUBE Apr 21, 2015

Juliano Martins wrote:

When a person writes a book, they don’t know if the book will sell. Given that, should all writers give up on writing just because they can’t predict the future? No.

How many words have you written in this forum, Jeff? Did you get paid for them? I don’t think so. Many things we do don’t pay money.

Ok, let’s do a little math exercise. According to your profile, you have over 20 years of experience, that is, 3 times as much as me (almost 7 years). You have translated 10 million words, me too. That is, I am 3 times faster than you. Therefore, I can use all that extra super speed I have to spend on translating books, with a chance of earning some money in the end, but in the worst-case scenario, I will have learned stuff, including how to write books. What do you think?



Hi Juliano,
I have already translated a book for BABELCUBE. My first book has been published one month ago. I translate into Arabic. I know that arab citizens are not good readers. Most of people did not even read at all . I know that I can earn nothing for this job. However, I am proud of this experience, I enjoy it deeply. I agree with you that we usually do lot of things that we did not get paid for it.
Now, I start my second book which is totally different than the first one. I still enjoy this experience. I am not as fast as you but I keep my settled clients as my priority and I do this work joyfully as if I am reading an interesting book!


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Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the feedback Apr 21, 2015

Hi Hebat-Allah,

Thank you for sharing your experience with us about this kind of service. I’m glad to know that you are happy doing it. I enjoy it too, despite the probability of earning nothing or very little. In Brazil it’s the same, most people don’t read at all. But the population here is huge, over 200 million people. Portuguese is one of the most spoken languages in the world, I think it’s the 5th most spoken language. And I have done some research and I see that the e-books market is growing fast. I wish you a very nice translating experience and a lot of success!


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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:05
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
See, I don't see the difference. Apr 21, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Or translate them for a charity I support.

[/quote]

I have done pro-bono translations for small charities. They didn't actually approach me for a pro-bono project. They offered me a paid assignment, and when I finished it, I send them a note saying that I really like their work and they should consider my translation a donation. It just felt right.

However, most larger charities have paid project managers, CEOs that earn 6-digit salaries, and budgets for everything else. I do not donate to them and I would never in a million years give them my work for free.

I would be far more willing to take on a "small" book translation in the full knowledge that I may earn nothing if I really liked the subject and considered the text to contribute to our understanding of a certain issue, than to get roped into that "feel good about yourself" charity market. Funnily enough, I apply the same logic: Why should I work for free while some charity CEO buys his third holiday home?

I genuinely don't see a difference.



[Edited at 2015-04-21 14:10 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-04-21 14:24 GMT]


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DCM Linguistics  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:05
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Beg to differ Apr 21, 2015

Juliano Martins wrote:
Ok, let’s do a little math exercise. According to your profile, you have over 20 years of experience, that is, 3 times as much as me (almost 7 years). You have translated 10 million words, me too. That is, I am 3 times faster than you.


Maybe you're three times cheaper?

DO NOT WORK FOR FREE FOR GOD'S SAKE.


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Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:05
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Beg to differ - part 2 Apr 21, 2015

Hi Diana,

Even if I were cheaper (which I think I am not, actually I earn between 5K to 6K USD per month, which is a very good salary in Brazil, by the way), it would be completely irrelevant for the speed calculation. To translate the same amount of words (and we’re talking about 10 million words) in 1/3 of the time (that is, 7 years instead of 20 years) is to be faster, regardless of how much money one makes.

And, by the way, I am not working for free. I don’t know why everyone is saying that. The proposition of the website is a partnership opportunity between translator and writers, and it may work, depending on the sales. Let’s see in a few months.


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DCM Linguistics  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:05
Portuguese to English
+ ...
The point was Apr 21, 2015

that you are cheaper so you get more work. I'd rather work less for more, but hey, that's just me

By the way, please ask your cleaner, handyman, lawyer, whoever to work a few months for free, as a ''partnership'' opportunity and see what they tell you. The process in book translations should be this: (1) translate -> get paid and (2) sell the book -> get royalties. But you're getting neither. Has work become an investment now?

[Edited at 2015-04-21 19:45 GMT]


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