Translating Your Books Into Non-English Languages
Posted On: 2014-02-26
by: Ashley Zee

February
26, 2014
Though many Kindle or Nook users are either native English-speakers or have some command of the English language, the fact is that non-English paying customers are only a theoretical click away. There are many people in the world who wish to read eBooks in their native language - it's definitely time to tap into this gigantic market!

Important Aspects To Consider:

There's a famous saying about tattoos that also applies to translating services: Good work ain't cheap, and cheap work ain't good.

In other words, you will generally get what you pay for. If you pay someone $5 to translate your 100-page eBook from English to Portuguese, expect to get the quality of translation that $5 pays for. If you pay $300 to get your 100 page eBook translated, expect the quality of translation to be much better. If you were to pay $3,000 to get your eBook translated, you should expect the quality of the translations to be perfect in every sense of the word.

The trick is to find a high-quality dependable translator at a price that won't break the bank. Here are some questions to ask prospective translators to help find the right "fit" for your book topic and your budget:

How long will the translation take?

How much will the translation cost?

What are the payment terms? Sometimes there are payment plans to work out with translators.

Are they a native speaker of the desired language? Translators generally translate into their native language, but it doesn't hurt to double-check...

What other books have they translated? Can they provide a resume or curriculum vitae?

Do they work with an editor as part of the translation, or do they work on translations entirely by themselves?


Who will hold copyright of the translated work? If you hire a freelancing translator, you should be the one who holds the copyright of the completed work (though you should attribute the translation to the translator in your book). Get the translator to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) so that you're legal copyrights are protected. If you are working with a translating company things might be slightly different and they might have some contracts of their own that need to be taken into consideration. Make sure you're clear on this issue before you press forward!

And finally, if your book is highly specialized (like how to fix computers, how to rebuild car engines, or how to make fondant icing designs on cakes), you should ask if they have the specialized knowledge and necessary vocabulary to translate your book.

These questions should help you thin the herd and find a good translator.

Below are some websites that offer translating services. Bear in mind that some languages are generally cheaper to translate into than others. Spanish, for instance, has so many Spanish and English speaking individuals that it's fairly easy to find someone to translate a book from English to Spanish. The price for an English to Spanish translation should not be exorbitantly high (unless you have a 500 page tome to translate, in which case it would be expensive just because of the fact that it's 500 pages and the word count will be high).

Languages that don't have a large population of native speakers (Icelandic, Japanese, Malayalam) or are considered complex for native English speakers to master (Finnish, Russian, Arabic) command top dollar in translating circles. Even native speakers of these targeted niche languages struggle with mastering the English language so the language challenge is a two-way street; as such, you will pay more to have your book translated into these languages, but depending on your book's topic and your budget you might want to explore this further.

Amazon recommends these translating services for European-language translations. I suggest viewing these sites in a Google Chrome browser which will automatically ask if you want these pages translated into English (the answer is yes, yes you do). It takes some digging on each of these sites, but you can find contact information for translators on these pages.

I don't doubt that Amazon's recommened sites are legitimate, but there are other options. A lot of the recommended websites will lead you to translating companies, not individuals. If you want to work with a freelance translator, consider the following sources.

1.) Fiverr - fiverr in this case is a misnomer. You will pay more than $5 unless your eBook is extremely short. The translator will most likely add "add-ons" to your order, thereby making it more than $5. This should all be discussed with the translator in advance, so don't buy the gig until you and the translator are clear on each other's expectations.

I have seen many freelancers offer their translating services on this site, and many translators have excellent reviews. Open communication is the key to successfully finding a translator on Fiverr.

There is another possibility with Fiverr, though: don't use fiverr to find someone to translate your eBook, but find Fiverr to find someone to make your foreign-language eBook cover. Once you know the title of your book in another language, hire a $5 freelancer to design the cover image! This is very economical.

I mention this because not only does your eBook need to be translated, but everything else needs to be translated too (your book description, your author bio, everything!). Even if you want to use a different service to translate your book, Fiverr can still figure into the translation process.

2.) Elance - this is a fantastic site for finding a freelance translator at a price that won't cost you an arm and a leg. You will pay more for a book translation than if you did this via fiverr, but this website is filled with seasoned pros that can provide a resume or CV easily. Elance is a bit more stringent with its quality-control than fiverr, so the quality of the services provided by Elance is generally higher. Remember: good work ain't cheap and cheap work ain't good. Elance is one of, if not the best, resources for you to find a translator within your (realistic) budget.

3.) This one requires a bit more work on your end, but it's absolutely worth exploring: contact your local college or university's language center or languages department (a simple Google search will find you all the contact information you need) and ask if there is a professor, lecturer, or standout student that would be interested in either translating your book OR proofreading your translated book (proofreading is an important step - no matter who you choose to translate your ebooks, make sure you hire someone else to proofread the translated work! You can use any of the sites above to find a proofreader).

You will have to pay the person you hire - no, students don't work for free to build up their resume, I don't know where this myth came from - but this is one way to find a translator that is close to home and one you can build a personable relationship with. Once a good working-relationship is established, you could finagle discounts on translations of future books. The one drawback to this approach is that you have to take the initiative because it's unorthodox, but the payoffs are potentially huge.

These are just a few ways to translate your eBooks into non-English languages. You can have your eBooks translated in a speedy and budget-conscious manner, so don't let the "fear of the unknown" hold you back! If you have used any other website for translating, we would love to hear it - share it on our facebook page or in our comment section on our website!

Until Next Time -
Ashley Zee