The English speaking world is huge, but the world outside that market is even bigger. And as more and more people get online every day, the non-English speaking market just keeps on growing.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that you’ve maximized all the income producing opportunities in the English speaking world! If you’re not a multi-millionaire yet, there’s probably more money you can make from your books written in English.
However, how about this…
At the same time as you write and promote your books written in English, you also start to attack opportunities outside the English speaking world. Especially if this can be done using an approach that takes as little of your time as possible.
Outside the English-speaking world, you may find surprisingly low hanging fruit. It could simply be a matter of having your book translated, and in the near future your book could be selling in many different languages at the same time. And ideally, this has the effect of significantly increasing your income, with little ongoing effort.
And who knows, the opportunism that open up for you outside of the English-speaking world may turn out to be far more than you ever imagined possible. For example…
David Gordon published his book The Serialist in 2010 to moderate success. But the Japanese translation became a phenomenon, including winning three major literary contests. Plus, the book even got turned into a movie. And in fact, his follow-up book got released in Japan quite a few months before the English version.
So, by translating your book and selling it internationally, it can create another stream of passive income. And it may even grow beyond your wildest expectations.
So, What’s Stopping You?
What’s stopping you right now from translating your book, and reaching a much wider audience?
- Well, perhaps you don’t know the first thing about the process of getting your book translated. And in particular what you need to know to make sure the process goes smoothly. But, that’s in fact what this article is all about! So read on for all the details…
- Or, perhaps you’ve just not considered it until now. Well, keep in mind the potential is huge, just like the potential is huge in the English-speaking market. But of course, success in any market isn’t guaranteed and getting your book translated does bring time (you only have so much of it) and financial risks. But, if your book is selling well enough in English, then that may be all the proof you need to feel confident to move forward with a translation.
- Perhaps it’s that you’re worried about the cost of getting all the work done. As I’ll shortly talk through, that is certainly something to keep in mind. The length of the book, its subject matter, the language you’re translating into, and other factors, all go towards determining the cost of the translation (and related work like copy-editing and even international promotion).
- Perhaps it’s that you’re concerned about dealing with non English speaking customers. Well, how many of your English speaking readers contact you? Many? Not many? Do you need to reply to them by email, or perhaps even on social media? Something to consider, depending how responsive you’d like to be to your readers, and how much you encourage them to get in touch with you.For example – if you’re publishing fiction, communication with readers is often recommended, but certainly not required. Whereas if you’re writing and publishing non-fiction and your goal is to turn readers into customers of your courses and coaching, then communication and support in their language will of course be required.
- Or perhaps it’s simply that you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of any part of the translation and international market process. Well, if that’s the case, it’s probably best you stop reading now! Or perhaps just bookmark this page for later reference, if you ever change your mind.
But as you’ll discover, the process of translation can be very straightforward. However since there is a time and financial investment, it helps if you’re serious about your publishing enterprise of course. And again, a proven market for what you’re selling in English speaking markets can help you with the decision to translate and market internationally.
So first of all, let’s go through the actual process of translating your book…
How to Successfully Translate Your Book
Here’s a vital point you must keep in mind:
Free automatic translation (Google translate and other similar alternatives), as tempting as they are, are just not up to the job. And frankly, they’re not going to be any time soon.
So, you need a human being translating your text!
That said, a translator doesn’t need to translate every word, but does need to check every word. Here’s what I mean by that…
How professional translators work is they often use a professional automated translation service like Microsoft Translator to automatically translate common phrases. This is called machine translation. Once that’s done, a huge amount of the text could be translated, and then it’s just a matter of the translator checking and finalizing everything.
This cuts down a huge amount the quantity of work required from the translator, so therefore helps keep your costs down.
This may work well with non fiction, but fiction is quite unlikely to use very common phrases, so it may not work so well in that instance.
If you’re interested in using Microsoft Translator to start the translation process before handing it off to a translator, you can use an online service like Memsource that integrates with Microsoft Translator to translate much of your text instantly at low cost and to a high standard.
However, the process of setting all this up is quite involved and beyond the scope of this tutorial. The following videos and articles can certainly help:
- All about Microsoft Translator at the Memsource wiki – click here.
- Integrating the Microsoft Translator API with Memsource – YouTube video.
Ensuring a Quality Translation
Although professional (not free) machine translation can help your translation project move forward quickly, you will need a high quality translator involved to translate any parts of the text not touched by the automated translation, and to check that the automated translations are accurate.
So to really get a very high quality translation, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- An experienced and professional translator is essential, really. And as tempting as it may be to instead use an enthusiastic amateur (especially if they come free) the quality just won’t be as good.
- The translator must always translate into their native language. This is so important. Let’s say your French is fantastic, well, translating from English into French is still going to be risky, as translating into your native language will always be the highest quality translation, rather than out of your native language.
- If the translator has been out of their home country for a long time, and rarely visits or keeps up to date with things (watching news from their home country for example…etc.), then their translations may include language that’s not up to date, so that’s an important factor to keep in mind. Professional translators make a point of staying immersed in their native culture as much as they can, even if they live abroad.
Okay, so now I’ve convinced you to get a professional translator on board, and you have a budget set aside for the translation process, let’s talk about the process of actually finding and paying a translator…
There’s plenty of places to find a translator, including:
- You can find and hire translators on online freelancing sites like UpWork, eLance, People Per Hour…
- You can search on sites dedicated to translators, like Translator’s Cafe, Proz, Institute of Translating & Interpreting, and many more.
- You can also if you prefer not to deal with a translator directly, use online ordering translation sites like One Hour Translation or the professional upgrades offered at Free Translation.
Now, it’s important to be aware that translators charge per word, and their price varies according to their experience, and in particular the type of text they’re translating.
Translation specialists in technical and jargon-laden topics like IT, medical topics, legal, and other areas that have very unique language tend to charge quite a bit more than generalist translators.
And it’s also very much worth keeping the following in mind:
If you really wanted the very highest quality English-language version of your book, you would hire an editor. Well the equivalent when translating is a second review of the translation. That can be very helpful, to help with accuracy and flow.
This could either be an editor in that language, or a second translator to check and approve the translation. Two heads are better than one, right?
Costs do go up with this of course, so whether or not this extra step is right for you does depend on your budget and goals for the translation project.
So if you’re looking for a good enough translation just to start moving into the international market, high quality automated translation with the text then finalized by a high quality human translator can be all that’s required.
Marketing Your Translated Book Internationally
Okay, so your book is translated, edited, and looks amazing in a language you can’t read a word of. So, what’s next?
Well, it’s time to publish it in the target country on Amazon and other sites. If you can’t navigate the sites you’re looking to sell on, perhaps continue using the services of your translator to help you with this, if they’re happy to do so.
But, if you’ve been doing your own marketing in English and want to really break through into other countries too, then you may wish to invest the time and money to market internationally too, rather than just sell internationally.
That does of course change the scope, but also the potential, of the translation project considerably.
If you’re taking this approach, perhaps it makes sense to focus on languages that open up the most potential for you, so to help maximize your return on investment.
Therefore it does depend on which countries make sense for you. Translating into Chinese or Spanish of course population-wise open up the most potential for you, but perhaps China and South America are not good fits for your book, and instead you find there’s a huge amount of potential for you in Germany.
With the earning potential of non-fiction being far beyond the sale of a book (through courses, seminars, consulting…) creating and investing in a marketing funnel in multiple languages, may make sense for you and your business.
Supporting Your International Customers
The more you grow your publishing into foreign languages, the more supporting your non-English speaking readers may become an issue, especially if you’re publishing non-fiction and your readers expect to be able to contact you. And particularly if you’re looking to turn readers into clients.
But as previously touched upon, if you’re just looking to publish your book in a foreign language without new marketing, and particularly without an international marketing funnel, then you may not really need to support your readers. They may get in touch with the odd question, and if you can’t read what they write, then so be it!
But if you’re really looking for a marketing push in that language, and particularly as mentioned if you’re offering courses, seminars and consulting, with your books as a lead generator for those, you need to have an entire support team in that language, which changes the scope of the project significantly, but also significantly increases the earning potential.
Selling the International Rights to Your Book
If you have a book that’s selling well, or even not so well, it’s well worth considering selling the international rights.
With this approach, the work involved for you is minimal as you’re effectively selling the rights to someone else. This may involve a one off fee (from them to you), and perhaps some royalties, but if you’re looking for extra income without much work involved, this approach may suit you. Plus, whoever you’re selling the rights too would likely look after the translation process too.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to talk through how to go about this successfully, but here’s some further resources to get you started down that road:
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