How Does Self-Publishing Work? - Part 1

How Does Self-Publishing Work? - Part 1 | One Hour Translation

Self-publishing is a topic that many people are interested in.

Self-publishing is a topic that many people are interested in: so many people have a story to tell, while others are looking to have their book translated and wonder how much it will cost, how long it takes, and basically, how does the whole process work?

It seems that a self-published author-translator has three options –

  • The traditional route, whereby the author functions as a publisher, paying the translator to translate their book, then handling both the production and marketing side themselves.
  • The royalty-sharing method, whereby the translator receives no upfront payment (or very little payment), but goes on to receive a percentage of the royalties on the translated book. Payment of royalties can be for an indefinite period or a defined period, such as the first year; and
  • The translation rights sale method, whereby the author sells the translator the translation rights for their target language, leaving the translator to translate, publish, and market the book.

The best option for you will depend on your perspective and your particular situation.

The Traditional Option

Some translators choose the first option, whereby the author pays the translator outright for the translation, generally under the same terms as a publisher would (payment is usually in installments). The translator will often help with the marketing of the book, but the onus is on the author to produce and sell the book.

It would depend on the potential of the book’s sales as to whether this model is good for the author. This traditional model is most likely the one that will appeal to established professional translators whose living depends on their translation expertise.

The Royalty Sharing Option

The royalty sharing option can be a win-win situation for both the author and the translator. It can happen that the author and translator agree to a 50/50 split of the first two years’ royalties. Besides relieving the author from having to pay thousands of dollars prior to the book being published, this agreement also gives the translator more incentive to do a high-quality translation, in addition to helping with the marketing of the book.

This self-publishing model will probably appeal more to beginning translators than it will to experienced professional translators. Because beginner translators are still establishing their credentials, they may be more motivated to complete a translation in exchange for the promise of future revenue. However, there’s a definite trust component in this type of agreement. What happens if the author never publishes the translation? And for the author, they need to ensure that they find a professional translator who has good contacts with people who are more likely to read your book because this is how they’ll effectively market your book. So, beginner translators may be prepared to take this risk, and it’s a risk that could well pay off; however, more experienced translators may not need to take the risk.

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