Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Translating Your Self-Published Book

Updated 10/10/23

One of the advantages of self-publishing is that you don't have to wait for your publisher to translate your book. You can do it yourself!

Translation can help open your book up to more markets, but keep in mind that your translated book will need to be promoted - just like the original. It helps to do some research into magazines, news services, and/or organizations that might be interested in reviewing or advertising your book abroad.

Authors have several translation options: 1) Translation services that charge nothing, but take a percentage of your sales, 2) Translation services that will translate your book into several languages simultaneously, 3) Freelance translators, who you can find on boards and freelance hubs. Most freelancers and services will give you a free quote, which will depend on the length of your work, and the degree of specialization required.




Babelcube bills itself as the easiest way for authors to team up with translators to sell their books in multiple languages globally. The way it works is quite simple: You upload ten pages of your book, along with a description. Translators then offer to translate your book and translate your ten pages. You can either accept or decline the translation, based on your assessment of the translation.

There is no charge to the author. The incentive for the translator is that for the first $2,000 of sales, the translator receives 55% of revenue generated from sales. The author receives 30%, and Babelcube receives 15% of net receipts. Babelcube distributes translated ebooks to multiple outlets, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Overdrive, Tolino, and many more. Over ten languages are offered. Their system is easy to use, and once the translation, translated cover, blurb, and author bio are uploaded, publication is immediate.

So far, I have used Babelcube to translate my book into Portuguese and French. Both of my translators were excellent, and I was quite pleased with the results. But the problem with a no-risk arrangement is that your translators can simply not follow through. They can miss their deadlines, and fail to respond to your messages. In that case, Babelcube will cancel that translation, and your book then becomes available for another translator in that language. (This has happened to me on more than one occasion.) The administrators at Babelcube are very responsive, and are always willing to answer questions. Nevertheless, waiting for a completed manuscript that never arrives can be frustrating, especially if the topic is timely.


Fiberead offers translations into simplified and traditional Chinese. Translators will translate your book into Chinese at a rate of nine months for 80,000 words with one additional month per 10,000 words. Authors get their own project team that includes editors, translators, illustrators and proofreaders. For digital e-book versions: 30% goes to authors, 30% to professional translators, 5-10% to editors and the rest is re-invested into the Fiberead platform. Authors also have the option of allowing Fiberead to be their agent for printed versions as well, which pays 90% royalties.

I have not tried this service, so I can't offer feedback.




TranslatorsCafé.com is a hub where translators can post their specialties. The site includes a directory of translation agencies and translators, a forum, and a Q&A section. Writers can post a job, or simply browse translators. The site also has a good article on how to choose a translator, as well as the pros and cons of choosing a freelancer as opposed to an agency.


The Proz site features over 300,000 professional translators and translation companies. Freelance translators working in Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Arabic, Japanese and other languages, and specializing in legal, medical, technical and other fields, can be contacted directly through the site. You can also post a job. Proz does not charge a fee, but you do have to pay the translator.

Website: https://www.traduguide.com/index-secure.asp

This is an international online job board. You post your job to receive quotes from freelance translators. You can also simply search by source language, target language, and specialty.


Verbumsoft, LLC
Burbank, CA
Phone: 818-748-6235
Website: http://www.translatorsbase.com

This is an online marketplace of freelance translators. You post your book/project to obtain free quotes. You can also select a translator. The site includes a helpful table of translation rates.



American Literary Translators Association
Richardson, TX
Phone: 972-883-2092
Email: altacentral2014@gmail.com
Website: https://literarytranslators.org/

Association for translators specializing in literary works. Site includes a directory of member profiles listing their language proficiencies.

American Translators Association
Alexandria, VA
Phone: 703-683-6100 M-F 9AM-5PM EST
Email: ata@atanet.org
Website: http://www.atanet.org

Association of professional translators and interpreters, including search tools and directories to help you find the right person for your needs.

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