by on Self Publishing Advice:
Like many indie authors, you might be keen toexpand the geographical reach of your self-published books via language translations, but such ventures need to be undertaken with great care to avoid (a) devaluing a book with an inferior version of the original if the translation is not well done (b) incurring more costs than can be recouped by sales (c) being left with a book that you have no means to market effectively because you don’t speak the language of your target market.
To help you steer your way through this potential minefield is this post by ALLi author Alison Morton, formerly a financial and insurance translator for the UK government. She also founded her own company with a core of a hundred translators, serving thirty languages, contracted to the European Commission. Alison holds a first degree in French, German and Economics and the CIOL Postgraduate Diploma in Translation (Business & Legal), and now keeps Latin alive in her Roma Nova alternate history novels.
Found in Translation: Global Reach of Bestselling Authors
We live in a time when Homer’s millennia-old epics are taught in Tokyo and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake can become a bestseller in Shanghai in the local language. English speakers delight in work by contemporary writers Stieg Larsson, Haruki Murakami and Elena Ferrante. Fresh translations are keep appearing of classical writers such as Kafka, Pushkin and Pliny.
And the statistics? Research carried out by Nielsen for the Mann Booker Prize in 2016, looked at physical book sales in the UK between January 2001 and April 2016.
It found that translated fiction sales almost doubled over the last fifteen years, from 1.3m to 2.5m copies, while the market for fiction as a whole fell from 51.6m in 2001 to 49.7m in 2015.
Obviously, this covers only printed books and those sold with ISBNs, but it’s an interesting trend.