Acquiring translation rights: how to get a response??
Thread poster: Yvette Neisser Moreno

Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 1, 2006

I have begun working on a new English translation of a book of Pablo Neruda's poems. This book was originally published in English translation (from Spanish) in the early 1980s. I consulted with a prominent Neruda scholar/translator here in the US, who encouraged me to pursue this project as he liked my work and agreed that a new/better translation was needed.

For about a year and a half now, I have been trying unsuccessfully to contact the literary agency (in Spain) that holds the rights to Neruda's books. I have sent multiple emails, made multiple phone calls, and recently sent by post my query along with my cv and sample translations. Occasionally I have received a response from someone's secretary indicating that my letter was on the person's desk and that they would respond soon, but I have never actually heard from the relevant person, nor have I been able to reach them by phone.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can get a response from these people? Are they obligated to respond to all inquiries (or do they have a right to ignore me if they choose)? Also, this is my first time requesting the right to publish translations--is there a protocol that I'm unaware of and/or am I going about this correctly?

Thanks so much for your help!!

Yvette

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2006-02-02 17:08]


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Hester Eymers  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:58
Member (2005)
English to Dutch
+ ...
How very rude... Feb 1, 2006

How very rude of them not to answer you! I don't think there is anything you are doing wrong. The one time I asked a publisher about rights, I just phoned them and they told me straight away that the rights for the language I work in were not sold yet.

Maybe you should wait until you have an English publisher who is interested in publishing your new translation, and then they can try to find out about the rights. Maybe a question by a publishing-house makes more of an impression than a question by an individual (even though this individual is a translator).

Good luck!
Hester


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
This is Spain:-) Feb 2, 2006

Yvette Neisser Moreno wrote:

I have begun working on a new English translation of a book of Pablo Neruda's poems. This book was originally published in English translation (from Spanish) in the early 1980s. I consulted with a prominent Neruda scholar/translator here in the US, who encouraged me to pursue this project as he liked my work and agreed that a new/better translation was needed.

For about a year and a half now, I have been trying unsuccessfully to contact the literary agency (in Spain) that holds the rights to Neruda's books. I have sent multiple emails, made multiple phone calls, and recently sent by post my query along with my cv and sample translations. Occasionally I have received a response from someone's secretary indicating that my letter was on the person's desk and that they would respond soon, but I have never actually heard from the relevant person, nor have I been able to reach them by phone.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can get a response from these people? Are they obligated to respond to all inquiries (or do they have a right to ignore me if they choose)? Also, this is my first time requesting the right to publish translations--is there a protocol that I'm unaware of and/or am I going about this correctly?

Thanks so much for your help!!

Yvette


Hi Yvette

After many years in Spain, I simply don't expect 'courtesy' replies, meaning that if they are not particularly interested, there's no reply. In Spain things work differently, after many years here I'm not entirely sure how, but maybe it's word-of-mouth, 'enchufe' (pulling strings, who you know)...

For example I have never got work as a translator by writing to anyone and proposing my services...nearly all of my work comes from a domino effect ...I work for one, they pass my name on etc.

So...what I'm saying is.. courtesy replies are not standard, which leaves you pretty much in the dark. I don't know what you can do when faced with such apparent indifference...maybe someone Spanish can explain how one goes about these things here:-)


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Cristina Golab  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Try to find a publishing-house Mar 26, 2006

Hi Yvette,
I agree with Hester. Try to find a publishing house interested in your project.
I had a similar experience, and it is better to have a publisher supporting you with your project and with the negotiation process.
Good luck!


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