Breaking into the publishing industry
Thread poster: Marionlam

Marionlam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:14
English to French
+ ...
Oct 15, 2013

Hi all,

Is there any novel / fiction translator out there who might kindly spare a few minutes to share their experience?

I have been translating marketing, business, travel and marine copy for 10 years. I really fancy translating fiction: adult or children books, ideally. I have sent CVs and free samples to publishing houses via their websites, and tried phoning them up, but I'm getting nowhere and i just can't think of anything else I could do....

Any ideas / suggestions?

Thank you!


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
You could start... Oct 15, 2013

... by putting fiction as one of your specialist subjects in your ProZ profile. I recently changed mine drastically, to include only the subjects that I really enjoy doing, and I've already noticed a significant difference in the kind of jobs I'm getting offered.

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urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:14
German to English
+ ...
Translators' Association / Emerging Translators' Network Oct 15, 2013

The Translators' Association (TA) is the professional organisation representing literary translators in the UK. They have some useful information available to non-members on their site.
http://societyofauthors.org/translators-association

The Emerging Translators' Network is a forum and support network for early-career literary translators working into English (primarily in the UK). You might be eligible to join.
http://emergingtranslatorsnetwork.wordpress.com/

I'd also recommend browsing through the existing threads in the Literature/Poetry section of this site: http://www.proz.com/forum/22

[Edit:] Ah, just checked your profile and noticed that you'd be translating into French. The associations I mentioned above serve the interests of translators into English. AFAIK, the relevant organisation in France is ATLF: http://www.atlf.org/

[Edited at 2013-10-15 16:05 GMT]


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Marionlam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:14
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks - this won't be easy, hey? Oct 21, 2013

Thanks, I've emailed all associations. I only got one reply from the ATLF who kindly suggest I visit the Salon du Livre in Paris, and that I send my CV to publishing house even though they don't tend to reply much.

I've also added fiction to my profile.
Philgoddard - I don't seem to get much business from my ProZ profile (in fact, I currently don't see much point in renewing my membership...). Out of interest, do you have any tips to increase this, or is literally down to Kudoz points (in which case, new members don't stand much of a chance, do they?). Or am I missing something?


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:14
Chinese to English
Start short Oct 21, 2013

I have fallen into doing some literary translation a bit by accident. Here's the advice I've been given:
1. You have to find texts yourself. It's not like commercial, where the agency finds the text, and you just turn up and do the magic. You have to find a book you like and persuade someone it'll sell.
2. Do that by starting short. Magazines of short fiction and poetry are often hungry for work, so get some short pieces published first. Then once you've got some publications, and once your chosen author has been published, you are more likely to get some to take the risk on book length work.


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urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:14
German to English
+ ...
other organisations are for translators into English Oct 21, 2013

Marionlam wrote:

Thanks, I've emailed all associations. I only got one reply from the ATLF


As I said in my amendment to my previous post, the TA & ETN are not really relevant for you because they cater to people who translate into English. Sorry about that. You might find some useful general information on the TA's site which you can take on board, though.


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Marionlam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:14
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, but how about copyrights etc? Oct 21, 2013

Thanks Phil, that sounds like an action plan but... how about copyrights? Surely I can't just go and translate any novel or piece of poetry and submit it without the author's say-so...?

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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 17:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Interesting work but often poorly paid. Oct 21, 2013

A publisher told a group of us that a hard-working literary translator might complete 4 books per year. If they were very good they might manage to get 4 such commissions.

For each, they might expect to be paid some $4,000.

4*4,000 = 16,000 if I did the Math right.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:14
Chinese to English
Contact the author, let publishers do the rest Oct 21, 2013

No, indeed, copyright must be sorted out. Most authors are happy to be translated, though, so it's usually possible. Find an author who hasn't been translated much, and ask them if they are willing to let you translate and publish something. Then ask the magazine/publisher that you're submitting to to work out the copyright issues.

Just to agree with DLyons, though - from what I understand, it's very hard to make a living out of literary translation. In particular, there's no money in translating children's books. The situation might be different working into French, though, and there's always a niche for someone with determination, so good luck!


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