Should you translate your own books or hire someone else?
I will begin this blog post being completely honest… I’m biased. I have been working for more than a year on Tale of Two Brothers’ translation to my native language, Spanish. Therefore, I am definitely biased since I have enjoyed every second dedicated to this personal project.
Tale of Two Brothers is my first book and I decided to write it in English, my second language, because 1) I desired to challenge myself, 2) I wanted it to have a worldwide market opportunity and 3) I wanted to publish via Amazon KDP and considered it a better language for that platform. However, since its publication on December 2018, I have longed for the time to translate it to my native language.
Spanish is a beautiful language (so is English, so don’t get me wrong) which empowers authors to paint an amazing picture with a barrage of words and synonyms. Before starting this amazing adventure, I did ask for several quotations from editing and translating companies. Hence, I may have just a bit of experience or criteria to write this post.
First, the cost was mesmerizing. Tale of Two Brothers is a long book, with 383 pages at a 5x9 inch format, and editorial and translation costs are usually quoted on a per-word cost. Therefore, based on my cost-benefit analysis my sales would have to range from 500 – 2000 copies before breaking even. Considering my book has sold 500 copies in two and a half years, this break-even point was way too high for me to consider a wise investment.
Second, I have read books in their original language and in a translated language, and they lose some of their essence. One thing is to write, another to edit, and another completely different is to translate. When these three activities are done by different people the translation becomes the result of teamwork and not of the author. This is not a negative thing to be honest, but it was not the result I wanted to have.
Consequently, I decided to translate my book because I was not able to invest a large amount of money which could be recovered in a long period. Also, I was not comfortable feeling my control over my book’s content, essence, structure, and unicity was lost. Last, I had the time to translate my own work, slowly but constantly.
To sum it up, whenever you are pondering whether to translate your work or hire someone, please use these suggestions:
1. Request quotations and make a cost-benefit analysis
2. Think if you are comfortable with losing some control over the end result’s essence
3. Analyze if you have the time and ability to do it yourself
Let’s get translating!