How do I find book translation work?
Thread poster: N Andersson

N Andersson
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:49
English to Swedish
Jul 5, 2010

Hello everyone,

I am new to the translation industry. I wonder how and where you can find books/literature to translate (or proofread)?
I search for jobs online quite extensively in both my languages, and (apart from the odd technically orientated book) I never see books being offered for translation. I have for example not yet seen any translation jobs for fictional books being advertised.
I have looked at some major publishing companies’ websites, but again, no work. So where are the book jobs? Is there a special website where you can bid on literature projects specifically? I would be very grateful for any tips. Thank you.


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:49
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Local contacts Jul 5, 2010

Publishers usually have their regular pool of translators, and they rarely turn to the internet to look for new translators. When they need new ones, they often get suggestions from their own translators – so word of mouth is also an important factor to consider. "Bidding" is not exactly the terms I would use, as it has a very strong taste of inverse auction, but even the more neutral "quoting" does not work the same way for publishers as for agencies. For agencies, it is a common scenario that their usual translators are not available on short notice - or that they receive a request in a language combination in which they don't have very regular translators. This happens much less frequently for publishers.

If you want to work for publishers, contact them directly, go to book fairs and discuss with their representatives, and so on. Prepare some sample translations that you can show them: book translation is attractive for a lot of people, so publishers can afford being selective.

Very often, they can also get away with paying very low fees, since many translators consider the fame and pleasure associated with working on well-written books as a compensation. Take a look at this report to get insight into the working conditions of literary translators across Europe.

Best regards,
Attila


 

Amy Duncan (X)  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:49
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Here's what helped me Jul 5, 2010

I never contacted a publisher, or anyone for that matter, about translating books (not saying that Attila's suggestion isn't good, though!)...

I think if you start doing a variety of translations, become active here on ProZ, become a paying member, participate in forums and answering KudoZ questions, etc., your name will get around. When you set up your profile, mention your interest in literary work, talk about it on the forums, etc. Sooner or later someone will contact you. That's what happened to me, and I've translated several books already.

Good luck!


 

svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:49
French to German
+ ...
Not that easy, I think Jul 6, 2010

I think Amy must have been very lucky - nobody has contacted me to date to offer me any sort of book translations although I have mentioned an interest in my profile and am a member of the "Association of German-speaking translators of literary and scientific works". I translated two travel guides from Italian into German which I enjoyed tremendously, unfortunately that was through an agency and I have never had any contact with a publisher.

I will actually try the approach Attila suggested, I just need to prepare some samples and start visiting some book fairs.

The only thing that surprises me is the fact that there are so many absolutely rotten book translations around - if publishers can be selective, why don't they choose the best?


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:49
English
+ ...
Probably patience as well as luck... Jul 6, 2010

inkweaver wrote:

I think Amy must have been very lucky - nobody has contacted me to date to offer me any sort of book translations although I have mentioned an interest in my profile ...


I'm currently translating a children's book. I was contacted because of and through my ProZ profile, so Amy is not the only (lucky) one. It does happen, but not every day. There are hundreds of translators to choose from, here on the ProZ site, so...just be patient and follow the good suggestions of Amy and Attila.


 

N Andersson
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:49
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all your help. :) Jul 6, 2010

Thank you Attila and Amy for your advice. Thanks for the link too, it was interesting to read it.
I will see if there are any bookfairs nearby. Thanks also to inkweaver and Suzan for your input. I have emailed a few publishers, but they don't reply, so maybe it is better to call them.


 

MexTranslator19
Mexico
English to Spanish
An alternative or... Oct 3, 2016

I have found an alternative in case you ever want to pick up experience for translating books (as well as those who want the same thing). Babelcube has both its own website as well as their own Facebook page and it's easy to contact them & register yourself as a translator to find proyects you'd like to work on when it comes to books.

However, the one issue I do have with this site is that the payment is dependent on the royalties received after a book is sold on the various publishing sites that Babelcube sends the finished translations to. It can be a long while before results present themselves, though that can depend on the author who's looking for translators.

I'm also looking for alternatives in translating books, be it for publishers or other websites dedicated to it. I have acquired some experience with it, so I'm ready for anything.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:49
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
dependent on royalties Oct 5, 2016

MexTranslator19 wrote:

I have found an alternative in case you ever want to pick up experience for translating books (as well as those who want the same thing). Babelcube has both its own website as well as their own Facebook page and it's easy to contact them & register yourself as a translator to find proyects you'd like to work on when it comes to books.

However, the one issue I do have with this site is that the payment is dependent on the royalties received after a book is sold on the various publishing sites that Babelcube sends the finished translations to. It can be a long while before results present themselves, though that can depend on the author who's looking for translators.

I'm also looking for alternatives in translating books, be it for publishers or other websites dedicated to it. I have acquired some experience with it, so I'm ready for anything.


A website where you can bid to work for free, and maybe if someone buys your translation you'll get a measly 5% of the sale, is not a reliable source of work for someone who needs to earn a living.


 


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