Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Business of Writing: More on Translating Your Book by @OlgaNM and more than one #giveaway!

Today I am delighted to welcome back author-friend Olga Núñez Miret for Part Two of translating your books from English to Spanish and vice-versa. Part One may be viewed HERE.

Olga Author Translator (mailto:mmxrynz at hotmail dot com)

Olga translated one of my novellas, The Challenge, into Spanish as EL RETO, and she did a fine job! 

In Olga's words...

It can be a judgment call to decide how to approach any given work of translation. There are two concepts that seem to be at war with each other, that of fidelity (equivalent to translating exactly the text, word by word, trying to preserve the style as closely as possible, that tends to be used for certain authoritative texts, like legal texts, religious texts…) and transparency (the creation of a text that nobody would know had been translated from an original and it appears to have been written in that language because it sounds, or reads, very natural). The first results in a literal translation and the second in an idiomatic one.

These ideas always remind me of a novel I read years back called Loosely Translated (by Simon Hugh Wheeler, an indie writer who approached me through Goodreads), where the novel of an English writer, whose quality of writing seems to have degenerated as the number of novels in his thriller series increases, is picked up by a Spanish publisher who decides, without reading it, to get it translated to Spanish. The selected translator is a talented female writer who can’t find a publisher for her books. She can’t believe how bad the novel is and after feeling frustrated by her task, decides to become creative and completely changes the novel. It becomes a great success, and the English writer, who is invited over, can’t understand what the readers are going on about at a Q&A session. Well, I’ll leave you to imagine the rest.

Why would anybody want to have their books translated?
  1. We all know how big a competition we face to try and sell books. Making it available to a wider audience is always a great idea. In the case of Spanish, it has 518 million speakers across the world, 427M as a native language. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is also used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, and by many other international organizations.
  2. These new markets are less crowded. Although the offerings in Spanish are increasing, the number of e-books available in Spanish is much smaller than those in English. And of course there are retailers that will be more interested in Spanish books.
  3. The same as is the case in English, there are blogs, Facebook pages, reviewers, reporters, critics, writers and readers looking for books in Spanish. I can say that with regards to other writers, I’ve found it easier to get in contact with writers who are best-selling authors, even across the whole of Amazon, in the Spanish language, than it is getting to know the big sellers in English. (Of course, some markets like Amazon Spain or Mexico are smaller, but still…)
  4. One never knows when the chance of pure luck might strike. I know a Spanish writer named Enrique Laso, whose books have been translated to many languages and who told me that although he has no idea why, his books translated to Greek have been great hits there. It’s impossible to know what might strike a chord with readers in a particular market.
  5. I’ve read many posts by writers talking about how exciting it is to see your first book published and, in the case of paperback, have it in your hands. Well, I must confess seeing one of my books translated to Chinese made me feel equally excited.
  6. I know of authors who are working on the idea of publishing their books in bilingual editions and indeed they might provide a good option for marketing as an aid to language learning.

Translation is not a mechanical thing and it requires skills, imagination, a good understanding of both languages, and judgment. There are famous writers who’ve also made a name for themselves as literary translators like Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luís Borges and Haruki Murakami. In Canada translators have as big a status as writers and there are awards for translators too.

If you’re interested in translations, there are a number of routes that can be followed. Of course there are translation agencies and freelancers, and you can find translators in places like Fiverr or Upwork. There are also options for splitting the royalties of the final text with the translator, available through places like Babelcube (offering translations to a number of European languages) and Fiberread (translating books to Chinese for split royalties). Although there are the machine translators and also useful online dictionaries, I would not recommend using them for anything more than a few lines (and even then it might be a risk).

I leave you with a few quotes:

Dryden observed that "Translation is a type of drawing after life..."

The British historian Alexander Tytler, in his Essay on the Principles of Translation (1790), emphasized that assiduous reading is a more comprehensive guide to a language than are dictionaries. (And I couldn’t agree more).

Translator from French and Greek, Ignacy Krasicki:

“[T]ranslation... is in fact an art both estimable and very difficult, and therefore is not the labor and portion of common minds; [it] should be [practiced] by those who are themselves capable of being actors, when they see greater use in translating the works of others than in their own works, and hold higher than their own glory the service that they render their country.”

You can check some of the books I’ve translated here.

As my latest story (a suspense/psychological thriller genre novella) is now free, and it’s the prequel of the series I’m working on at the moment, I thought I’d share it with you.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings
How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.

Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.

You may buy her featured novel, Escaping Psychiatry: Beginnings via:

Thanks so much to Kim for having me as guest, thanks to all of you for reading, and keep sharing and smiling.

You are quite welcome, Olga! Follow her via:

Newsletter | Website | Blog | Twitter @OlgaNM7 | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | G+ | Pinterest | Wattpad | Tumblr |

And don't forget to snag your copy of the novella Olga translated for me, El Reto!


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  1. Thanks so much, Kim, for having me again as your guest. Translations are a never ending box of surprises. Be well and I hope everybody gets a copy of your book (and mine!)

  2. It's my pleasure, Olga; thanks again and have a lovely week! :)

  3. Great information! 😊 Thanks so much, Olga and Kim.


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