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How to get your book translated into English (without it costing the earth)

Help for writers

Translation editing

Translation is always difficult but if you want to publish your book in English to make it available to the international market, what do you do? Some people find online translation or a translation programme is the way but we're all familiar with the funny story about the person who translated the phrase ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak' into Russian then got it translated again back into English, by which point it came out as ‘the whisky is great but the steak is awful'.

You can imagine the effect of this on a whole manuscript. A translation programme will make many mistakes, and then you have to know they're errors to set about correcting them.

If this won't give you a satisfactory result, you may think: "What about getting a translator to do the job?" If you choose a good one you'll get a good result but your plans to translate your book may grind to a halt when you realise that a decent translator is very expensive. For instance, if your manuscript is 75,000 fairly straightforward words, it will cost around £7,000 to get it translated and that will be by someone used to doing translation piecework, rather than a proper book translator, who will cost more.

So, if your English is good enough, what about translating your book yourself, and then getting your translation polished and copy edited by a professional editor who is a native English speaker? The result should be a publishable manuscript. If there had been a great many changes it might need a quick proof-read, but it would otherwise be ready for you to publish or submit to publishers.

This genuinely opens up a whole range of possibilities to authors who want to get their book out in English but can't afford the considerable cost of employing a translator.

It will also enable you to make sure that you, as the author, can make sure the translation says exactly what you mean. Neslihan Stamboli, who recently sent her very lengthy manuscript to WritersServices to be polished, had this to say about her experience:

"Translating my book Ruya (published in three volumes) into English was an arduous task; it did take almost as long as writing it in the first place. It was, however, worth the effort since no one could have probed into my prose and captured its soul better than I, as its author, could. In this venture, though, there was one crucial step: a competent and efficient editor to polish it, so to speak, making sure that it did not 'smell' of translation and was free of the errors that might have escaped the eye of a non-native English speaker."

Neslihan Stamboli's Ruya, originally written in Turkish, has just been published in English in three volumes and is available from Amazon

If you're keen to improve your English, the track changes version of your manuscript will show you what's been changed and help you to improve your own English as well as checking that everything is correct.

Anthony Fitzgerald's first beautifully illustrated children's book has just been published at anjobu.com and there's an ebook as well as a game. But it was written in German and he had to work out how to publish it in English from the start:

"When I found out how much it costs to translate a manuscript into English, I was afraid I might never be able to enter the English market. However, after giving it some thought I decided not to give up that easily. To save costs, I translated the book myself and after finishing I looked for a copy editor, who would brush up my mediocre English. Fortunately I found "writersservices.com" for this. After only a few emails I got assigned a highly competent editor for a fair price, who took a reasonable amount of her time to edit my manuscript. The result? A book that reads like it's written by a native speaker for only 13% of the price a complete translation would have costed. Thank you, writersservices"

We have just launched our dedicated new service, Translation Editing.