Tips and resources
How to Translate your Book

Translation is an art underpinned by solid “transfer” principles that can only be learned through extensive training or experience.

If you are a self-published author, translating your book is a great way to increase your sales and reach new audiences across the globe. But in case you are not fluent in the other language, you are bound to face some challenges while translating, localizing, and editing your book for the global audience. 

“You have finally self-published your bookand this is a huge milestone, maybe one you’ve been dreaming about for years. You might be quite tired and at your wits end after all the effort it took to put down your original idea into the form of a book, but you’re happy and satisfied when you see the impact of your words on people’s lives.

But suddenly you realize that only people who speak English can read your book. So, now what? Well, you decide to start with the second most common language in your country, which is perhaps Spanish. After Spanish, you could do French, German, Italian, then maybe even some languages of other sub-continents.

We have listed out some useful tips on how to translate a book.

Establish an end-goal

Think of a reason behind your desire to translate your book into some other language. Are you aiming to create a market for your products or services among the people of other countries? Do you want to connect emotionally with audiences who speak a different language? If you want to engage people from other countries on an emotional level, what is your overall goal for accomplishing this?

Translating a book involves time, money, and effort. Establish what you want to achieve from translating your book and work diligently to attain it.   

Determine a target market  

If your book was originally published in English, some of the top foreign markets for publishers are Indonesia, India, China, and South Korea. 

Decide which countries to target according to your genre. Research the prominent genres in other countries, as well as deep dive into the systems of bureaucracy, censorship, and other issues you might face publishing your book in those countries.

Important questions that need answers for market research:

Who is my competition? 

What other titles are similar to mine?

How does my book stand out in the market? 

Consider these questions for all of the markets you are thinking about entering. This knowledge can help you take an informed decision on how to increase the sale of your book in a different country. If you are unfamiliar with your target market’s language, you need to take help from a professional translator or translation service agency to help you with market research. 

Once you’ve determined your target market, pick the methods you will use to translate your book into their language.

Use machine translation for common words and phrases

If you’re on a tight budget, try using a professional automated translation service like Microsoft translator to translate the common words and phrases from your book. Machine translation can only accomplish a partial translation of your text, but even then you will need a professional translator to give a wholesome picture to your translation. The final translated document must be edited by a professional or at least a person who is a native speaker if you want consistency and content accuracy in your translated book. 

This method holds good only when your book falls into the nonfiction category. Machine translation cannot be fool proof in case of fiction since it does not contain common phrases always and sometimes uses innovative language and conceptions to express ideas using figures of speech. But if you don’t have enough time to devote to translation, it is easier and faster to hire professionals to translate your complete book. 

Hire a professional translation service 

A professional translator can capture the essence of the book, including the tone, message, and structure without sacrificing the core meaning. Hiring a professional translator who understands your target market’s culture and is a native speaker of their language is the best way to guarantee your book is translated efficiently.

The professional translation services offer two options primarily: a freelance dedicated translator or a translation agency. Research and figure out which option fits your need better based on professional expertise, cost factors, and communication styles. 

Once you’ve made your decision, continue to have open communication and discuss issues that you’re happy with and work on giving constructive feedback on areas for improvement. Get back to them in a timely manner if they have any questions. 

Edit and proofread 

The way your book was proofread and edited after you wrote it, you’ll also need an editor for the translated version of your book. An editor corrects all spelling, grammar, and mechanical errors that might have been introduced by the translator. 

Most translation services include proofreading and editing in the price of their services. If you decide to go with a freelance translator, you’ll need to hire an editor or a second translator to double-check the first translator’s work. 

Editing and proofreading entail additional expenses for the book production process, but these two steps are worth in order to guarantee your book has been translated to quality standards and flows well in the target language. 

Publish, peddle, and proctor

Once your book has been translated and edited, it’s time to publish and market it to other countries. If you are having difficulties understanding the websites you’re selling on, ask your translator if they can assist you. 

Monitor the performance of your book sale in your target market. Match your actual sales numbers to your target, and see if you’ll make back the money you spent on translation and editing. If you believe you can create a bigger fan base with sharper footfall in your international market, you can create a detailed plan for how to give a concrete shape to it.

It’s always best to be well informed before plunging into a new endeavour, especially one that involves significant costs. To get a high-quality translation for your book you need time, but you can follow the above-mentioned steps to have a smooth journey through the translation of your book.