View Full Version : English to Spanish

11-14-2009, 04:39 AM
Does anyone have any idea as to how I can get my book translated from English to Spanish? My book will appeal to both languages, but I only know English...

Matera the Mad
11-14-2009, 04:48 AM
Keep asking around, and hit a few other places like Networking...hmm, where else.... There are quite a few bilingual AW members. I'm one, or half of one, sort of, but my brain shrivels at the thought of translating books.

Gary Clarke
11-14-2009, 06:36 PM
Just to let you know, Spanish ( as in the country of Spain) publishers are notoriously slow to pick up new (international) work. They tend to wait and see how a book is doing on the international market before buying in for translation. If you're getting it translated yourself in the hopes of subbing to a Spanish language publisher it might be a good idea to shop around the English language version first? See what the reaction is before putting yourself to any further expense? It's just a suggestion now, based on only a very small experience of being published in Europe in Spanish.

11-14-2009, 07:13 PM
Your best bet is to sell it in English, then try to get your agent (or publisher, if you sell to a publisher without having an agent) to sell the Spanish-language rights. Then the translation doesn't cost you anything, plus your percentage of royalties on foreign rights will be even more than on the original-language sale.

I make more on the French-language editions of my books than on the US ones.

'The money flows to the author.' (Yog's Law)

Gary Clarke
11-14-2009, 07:15 PM
What Terie said.

11-14-2009, 09:30 PM
What Terie said.

Yeah, what they said. Just to add, there's a big difference between a straight translation and a literary translation. It takes a special person to carry over the emotional side of your work, yet a lot of people willing to take your money for doing it. I speak Spanish but would never be capable of doing justice to anything but a picture book...

11-14-2009, 11:21 PM
@Matera The Mad: You're a hoot! I'm not going to stop bugging you about Beta'ing for me.

@Gary Clarke: I'm self publishing with the hope of selling primarily to a venue that would have a vested interest in educating speakers of both languages.

@Terie: Would you happen to know if there is computer software available to do such a task?

@Colealpaugh: It's a nonfiction book that's more in the category of motivational

Thank yall

11-15-2009, 12:45 AM
@Terie: Would you happen to know if there is computer software available to do such a task?

Machine translation is not even close to good enough to give you 'manuscript ready' translated copy.

It just so happens that I'm a tech writer for my day job and I work closely with our documentation translators, so I can explain a bit more about this process.

The machine translator is used for the first pass, which a (highly paid) human native-language translator then finesses to capture the correct meaning. As a native-English writer, I'm often called upon to assist the native-French and native-Spanish translators in understanding the explicit meaning of the original text so that they can make any adjustments in the machine translation to ready it for publication.

Costs for translating technical documentation (combination of machine and human translators) run between $.05 and $.40 per word. For a 100,000-word piece, this would be $6,000 to $40,000. I don't know where translation of literature would fall in that range, but I'd guess it would be on the high end, because literature is about emotional arcs, character dialog distinctions, and many other language factors that don't come into play in tech doc.

So my advice to you remains: work on selling your book in your native language. Once you get a deal, start looking into the sale of Spanish foreign rights. Unless you speak and write fluent Spanish yourself, doing anything else is a waste of your money. You could pay $20,000 or more for a translation that is still unsellable.

I'll repeat this, too: 'The money flows to the author.' (Yog's Law)

Good luck.

11-15-2009, 02:37 AM
Don't even think of using a translation program. They are hopelessly inadequate for serious translating. (I've ranted so often about this on AW I'll hold back this time.)

And don't use a well-meaning bilingual friend either. Being bilingual is a prerequisite for translating, but it isn't enough by a long shot. I've known fluently bilingual people who were hopeless at translating.

You either have to hire a professional translator, or be fortunate enough to know someone competent who will do it for the love or a cut of the profits.

Have you considered trying to find a professional publisher instead of self-publishing?

11-15-2009, 05:11 AM
@Terie: Ohhhhh, thanks for the tip(s).

@Judg: Yes, I've considered it; and even tried it. But was advised that my target audience and kind of material would be best suited for self publishing. In other words: There's not a large enough market from a traditional publisher's perspective to warrant a contract. However, I have my own strategem.

11-15-2009, 05:14 AM
Good luck with it, Doomie.

Gary Clarke
11-15-2009, 11:56 AM
Good Luck, Doomie. Keep us posted on your progress!

11-15-2009, 03:51 PM
Doomie, I apologise for not catching on quicker that you're self-publishing. When I saw your question to me, I didn't read the rest of that post. Doh!

That being the case, you really need to put any thoughts of a Spanish edition on the back burner for now. Self-publishing and then selling your book is a double-time job, in addition to any regular job you might have. Any time you expend right now on a Spanish edition will be time NOT spent on the English one.

In these circumstances, I'd suggest that you not think about the Spanish edition until you see how well the English one does. If you pay off your investment reasonably quickly, then you could start putting some of the proceeds aside to create a Spanish edition. At that point, start up a search for an experienced literature translator, someone who translates books such as yours. Find out how much it will cost, and budget for it.

Remember that as a self-publisher, you have to do a lot more than just write the text of the book, and while some of the things you learn (such as how to negotiate a good printing contract) will carry over, many others will not (if you're not fluent in Spanish). Just as you need to hire an editor for your English text, you'll need to hire one for the Spanish. (Writing and editing aren't skills that are very often possessed by the same person.) There's also cover, back blurb, front matter, and back matter that you'll have to have someone write and then edit (or at least proofread). If your book has an index, it'll have to be re-indexed in Spanish. There will be marketing and promotional materials to be written in Spanish.

You're already starting out on the tough road by self-publishing; don't make it any harder on yourself by trying to do both English and Spanish at the same time. If your English book does well, then look into Spanish. That way, you have some hope of staying sane -- or, well, as sane as any of us completely mad writers are!

11-15-2009, 08:09 PM
Thanks you all. Now here's the thing:

I'm writing a nonfiction, motivational book for soon-to-be released prisoners.

It is my hope that the book will encourage those individuals who truly want a lifestyle change to create a viable release plan; or be a reality check for others who think they have it all figured out. Believe it or not, many repeat offenders did not return home with that intent. It was being unprepared for things they never considered that was the beginning of the end.

The penal system already have what is called Life Skills classes and Pre Release classes that almost all prisoners have to take before release. The overall issuse is that these classes don't address the potential issues that many will face, such as: infidelity, delinquent children, an unforgiving community, employer perceptions and workplace ettiquete, adjusting to family after a religious conversion, etc.

It is my hope that the book I'm writing will be accepted as a tool to be used in these classes, not a replacement. In the nearly two years that I have been querying publishing houses and agents, most seem to like the idea and see the need for such a book; all the same, they either are not confident in it's ability to sell, given that it will be primarily purchased for the imprisoned. Or I'm told to try back when the economy settles a bit. So I'm going the self publishing route via Lightning Source, which seems to be the most cost friendly option of the POD arena.

It's not a text book or work book, but it will have a scene/scenario at the beginning of each chapter that directly relates to that chapter, a check list of questions at the end of each chapter, and a mini quiz and answer sheet at the end of the book. It will also have an index. Upon completion, I plan to make it in audio and a DVD/Power Point type addition.

At least two people that I have been able to build a rapport with in the penal system love the idea, and this is where it was suggested that a good selling pitch would be to have it in Spanish as well, given the rise in the Spanish speaking prison population. Most Spanish speaking people shy away from such classes because they are not proficient enough in English to reap the full benefits.

Whew! A bit long winded, I know. But I certainly appreciate everyone's advice and it is well received. I figured that it was worth asking though.

11-15-2009, 10:05 PM
That's really great, Doomie! And I wish you well with it, I truly do. I believe such a resource is needed, and it would be grand if you could be the one to bring it into being.


(And you knew there was one of those coming, didn't you?)

You're still just one person. You can only do so much yourself. Your intentions are admirable and good, but that doesn't mean you can do the work of twenty-five people. Just self-publishing one book in one language is taking on the jobs of ten or so! Burning yourself out won't do you or anyone in your target audience any good.

On the other hand, it sounds as if just one or two good-sized orders will put you into profit and a place where you might be able to take on the Spanish-language edition.

Also, I think you should seriously consider the suggestion to wait until the economy turns around. Again, it's admirable that you want to help people NOW (and I mean that completely sincerely), but if you waited a year or two and were able to get a publisher who would pay YOU and take care of all the publishing and distribution details and get a Spanish-language edition out, might that not be better in the long run? Just something to think about.

11-16-2009, 03:54 AM
@Terie: Thanks for the vote of confidence. I really appreciate all that you've stated. And I'll certainly consider your thoughts.

11-16-2009, 09:08 AM
Hey, Doomie!

My own quick thoughts are that (1) a Spanish language version would be valuable and (2) you might want to explore for a highly compatible collaborator who is fluent in Spanish and English and experienced as a translator to work with you on a Spanish language edition. It seems to me that it might be possible that someone who is highly attuned to possible cultural issues might be helpful in assuring that your ideas are translated as effectively as possible.

I know someone who might be willing to work with you or point you to someone who would meet the need. He has highly pertinent experience.

I'll PM you with info.


Gary Clarke
11-16-2009, 07:45 PM
Doomie, what publishers have you been pitching to? I don't know anything about the area you're talking about, so this may be totally unfeasible; but have you tried an educational company? (Such as the publishers who deal with school books.) Or an governmental/prison charity who might actually fund the project for you? Or even a college press who might publish it as part of a social studies dealy? (did you like that technical term there? Dealy? Such big vocabulary, I has.)

11-16-2009, 08:41 PM
Doomie, what publishers have you been pitching to?. . .
IMHO, Doomie's first challenge (other than writing the best book possible, of course) is to build platform, a process that could take a couple of years of diligent effort. He has tremendous opportunity to do so. That comes before pitching an agent or publisher -- and, frankly, before self-publishing. He and I have discussed that, and I think he is on the right track.


Gary Clarke
11-16-2009, 08:49 PM
Sounds like he hit gold with you!
Best of luck again, Doomie!

11-16-2009, 09:05 PM
I agree with Researchguy, its an excellent idea for a nonfiction book and something thats probably not been done before,

another suggestion i would make in regards to spanish question is perhaps to get intouch with spanish organisations that might be focused on same issues as your book - which may help with translation and distribution?

11-17-2009, 04:55 AM
@Research Guy: I didn't see the PM you stated you sent. I'll check my Yahoo and Facebook accounts just to be certain that it's not there... but someone of that caliber would be a wonderful asset! I'm certainly not above collaborating with someone; in the end, it's about helping people. Really.

@Gary Clarke: The governmental agencies were the ones who suggested that I try back because of the current economy. It seems that theres not enough money for a venture like mine at this time... And actually it was Research Guy who explained to me why I was bumping my head against the wall with publishing houses. I didn't have a platform, nor had I been out on the circuit. So I would only beg to differ with you on me striking gold with him, in that I would call it "Platinum" {smile}.

@Emilycross: Thanks to you too, for the vote of confidence. I've taken Research Guy's advice and am in the process of building a platform - which is like building Rome without the help of captured soldiers of war. But it was one of the people I met that initially asked about a Spanish version. He was complaining that many of "his people" who are imprisoned have only the ESL [English as second language] courses to look forward to. The other classes are not equipped to teach Spanish speaking prisioners, unless the prison itself is in a heavily populated Spanish speaking state such as Oregon or California. But I will certainly begin using search engines to locate possible organizations that may be interested. Thanks for the suggestion.

11-17-2009, 05:06 AM
Doomie, look for your PM's by clicking on the link near the top right-hand corner that says "Private Messages." Or go to User CP on the menu on the dark blue band near the top, or go to Forum Jump and choose Private Messages. PM's are not emails.

11-17-2009, 07:47 PM
@Research Guy: I didn't see the PM you stated you sent. . . .
You not only saw it, you replied to it. I think there might be some misunderstanding of the purpose of that message, or what a PM is. Anyway, I have emailed the information to you directly, in response to other communication.


11-17-2009, 08:32 PM
Your best bet is to sell it in English, then try to get your agent (or publisher, if you sell to a publisher without having an agent) to sell the Spanish-language rights. Then the translation doesn't cost you anything, plus your percentage of royalties on foreign rights will be even more than on the original-language sale.

Just for the record: if one has an agent the agent's commision is more for translated books - 20% vs 15%.

Doomie: have you tried approaching Spanish language US-based publishers yet? I;ve no idea how many of these there are, but they just might be interested -- more so than English language publishers, perhaps.

11-18-2009, 01:31 AM
@Judg and Research Guy: Yep, I have it. I had it and didn't realize it; probably thinking there was another one. Excuse me.

@Aruna: Thanks for the info/tips.