Finding a UK publisher for translation of political book
Thread poster: Julia Cooper

Julia Cooper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:21
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Jul 27, 2015

A German author has asked me to translate his book on post-war German politics (already published in Germany) into English, as long as I can find a publisher in the UK who would be interested in translating it.

I've had quite a lot of interest but ultimately only rejections, and I wondered if this is something that the author and/or his publisher in Germany would be better to do directly? I would really like to translate the book, but this is taking up a lot of time when I could be doing other translations!

Or is this something that a literary agent in the UK or Germany would be better placed to do on our behalf?

Any advice gratefully received!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Completely outside your job description Jul 27, 2015

It sounds very much to me as though this author knows perfectly well what you would be letting yourself in for, were you to make this commitment.

Having worked with Italian authors and publishers on translations of various books, I know a little bit about getting translations of foreign-language books published in English. This of course is a very desirable market because it includes all of the United States, Australia, India, United Kingdom, etc etc and it's where everybody ultimately would like their books to be published.

In my experience, this is a very arduous task that is usually the duty of the publisher.

For a book to be published in another country, the publisher has to go round the international book fairs (e.g. Frankfurt and London) and spend several days approaching possible publishers in the other country. She or he will need to have at least a couple of chapters of the book, already translated into the target language. She or he would expect to already be acquainted with the other publishers. These are high-powered people; I've seen my small Italian publisher having to deal with heavies at major international publishing houses based in London, New York, etc. My experience of publishers in general is that they are charming sharks!

Assuming that the other publishers show some interest, there would then have to be a negotiation about distribution,price, royalties, costs, illustrations if any, etc etc. This is tough talk that could not be handled by anyone who isn't very expert and knowledgeable. These negotiations could go on for a very long time. They might not be in a language with which you are familiar.

In other words: this kind of work is completely outside your job description as a translator. It would cost you a fortune in flight tickets, hotels, subsistence, admission to book fairs, etc. Need I say more?

[Edited at 2015-07-27 13:51 GMT]


 

Julia Cooper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:21
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, I completely agree Jul 27, 2015

MAny thanks for the advice, Tom, I completely agree. Although the author has said he will pay me a fee if I do find a publisher, I've come to the conclusion that this is a thankless task and would be better undertaken by the publisher in Germany, as you say.

Thanks again for the advice.

Julia


 


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Finding a UK publisher for translation of political book

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