Author Topic: Do translated books sell?  (Read 213 times)

Denise

Do translated books sell?
« on: January 10, 2019, 10:53:11 AM »
I'm just wondering if anyone has had sales in Brazil, and how they compare to ebook sales in English.



 

CoraBuhlert

Re: Do translated books sell?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 11:22:07 AM »
Brazil is my fifth biggest Amazon market, after com, Germany, UK and Australia. However, the books are in English. I do have some of my books translated into German and they sell well.

As always with translations, there are a few factors to consider:

1. Translations are an investment and a pretty big one. I have German translations, because I'm a translator in my day job and could therefore do it myself with no cost except my time.
2. Not every book/genre is a good fit for every market.
3. If you want to have your books translated, get a good translator with experience in literary translation, preferably in your genre. Extremely cheap translators tend to offer low quality translations that are hardly better than Google Translate.
4. The output of Google Translate should never, ever be foisted on paying customers.

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Genres: All of them, but mostly science fiction and mystery/crime
 
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Denise

Re: Do translated books sell?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2019, 11:41:50 AM »
Awesome, thanks for the info!

I am a (part-time) translator, and that's why I'm asking. 

I see people doing royalty share and I can't see how it would pay for their time, unless there's some secret I don't know. But if there's a secret, I'd definitely like to know...

 

CoraBuhlert

Re: Do translated books sell?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2019, 12:16:02 PM »
If you work as a translator (Hi, fellow translator!) and have the time and inclination to do it, I'd give it a try. Maybe start with a shorter piece first to test the waters.

I translate my own books, when I'm blocked on writing new words. That doesn't happen all that often, so I only have a handful of books available in German. However, my all-time top-selling title (which sold 20 times as much in German as in English) is a German book.

Blog | Pegasus Pulp | Newsletter | Author Central | Twitter | Instagram
Genres: All of them, but mostly science fiction and mystery/crime
 
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Crystal

Re: Do translated books sell?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2019, 06:35:56 AM »
I have some German translations with a publisher. So far, each book has made 5-10k in its first month. I only get a certain percentage of that, but I can see how a savvy translator would be able to make good money doing royalty share.

I still wouldn't recommend it on either side. It's generally better for the translator to get an upfront payment. It's work for hire. They shouldn't be expected to take that risk. I think, if you wanted to make money as a translator via royalty share, it would be best to set up a small publishing company. That way, you have more control over the success of a title.

Most authors who want royalty share want it because they can't afford an upfront payment. And those people tend to sell less. Whereas others are just too busy to do translations themselves, so they'd gladly sell the rights (hi!) even though they know they could make more doing them indie.
 
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David VanDyke

Re: Do translated books sell?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2019, 07:56:52 AM »
It's all about risk-reward--who takes the risk and who gets the reward.

For a flat fee, there's no risk for the translator. Do the job, get paid. There's also no potential big payoff. It's a job. The risk is all on the content creator/publisher--as is the reward forever after.

For royalty split, the risk shifts to the translator, because the creator's already done the work. If expected sales are big, why share it with a translator? If they're iffy, then pushing the risk onto the translator makes sense for the creator.

The best model would probably be some kind of hybrid, if it could be worked, something more like what a tradpubbed author gets. An advance against earnings up front, and a piece of the back end after that earns out. So for a translator, that could be a lower amount than usual as an advance, then a percentage of future sales. That splits the risk back onto both parties, depending on how it's negotiated.

Say a translator usually gets (round number) 10c a word. That's $10K for a 100K word book. A fair hybrid might be a $5000 advance, with a a 50% royalty split of net earnings. The author/publisher recoups the advance first. If they never do, then the translator still has their advance. If the book earns out, though, for all net above $5K they are getting 50% of earnings.

Really, anything that's fair will work, as long as all parties agree and act in good faith.




Never listen to people with no skin in the game.
 
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CoraBuhlert

Re: Do translated books sell?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2019, 12:57:36 PM »
A translator colleague of mine actually set up his own small press, though he operates more like a traditional publisher and buys translation rights. So far, all of his translations have been passion projects, books he wanted to translate, but for which he didn't see much interest in other publishers. His catalogue is ecclectic - memoirs, novels, even an art book - but some of his books have been quite successful.

Blog | Pegasus Pulp | Newsletter | Author Central | Twitter | Instagram
Genres: All of them, but mostly science fiction and mystery/crime
 

LD

Re: Do translated books sell?
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2019, 08:11:41 PM »
So how would you go about selecting the translator?  I mean, I wouldn't be able to vet how well they translate if I can't even understand the words.