I have been looking into getting my books translated. This seems to be another minefield for the self published or indie author and yet another potential drain on funds with little possibility of recovery or a return..
So far I have tried Babelcube and now Fiverr without luck. Babelcube has a risk share approach to creating foreign editions which at least is more attractive from a financial point of view but so far I have received no offers. Fiverr as discussed in the comments on my last blog allows buyers and sellers to join up. Sellers or buyers bid or request gigs. I requested a gig for translation services into French or Spanish for my books. I have received 20+ notifications all straight forward unadjusted offers to translate approx 1,000 words for $5 or variations of such. Some offers of work have reviews some don’t.
The contact mechanism was broken on two of the offers when I wanted to make contact. Not one of the offers addressed the request i.e. to translate a book the shortest of which is over 95,000 words. Based on the offers that is $425 minimum per language per book. At Kindle 70% royalty of $2.99 – my normal sale price that is 203 sales of that edition to break even. Then there would be foreign blurb, foreign descriptions, cover art, author profile and marketing – what would be the break even point then.
Is this a risk worth taking. It is impossible to know, will foreign readers flock to my tales that I have kindly arranged to sell in their own language. Advice is split, and of course it is likely that not all the translations will be perfect, recommendations are one thing but I as a non-speaker I will not know until the dreaded review. Of course if the review is in a foreign language I won’t be able to read it. Yes I know I should have studied harder at school to take my limited French further or carried on my Spanish classes, my few words of Russian and most embarrassingly off all my lack of Dutch despite a Dutch mother. There are still language courses and of course Google Translate. These have helped for odd words in the books I have written. No one has told me I have those little elements of French (mostly) incorrect. Perhaps I have put of every French bi-lingual reader on the planet with my offering – who knows. If I really wanted to expand my market I would translate to Chinese.
As with editing or proofreading there is no way of proving a negative. If I invest will I get a return or is this just more vanity on my part?
Now if there is a bi-lingual person out there who would like to help – let me know
Phenweb Publishing is delighted to announce the publication of two new books by
Philip G Henley
Both available now on Amazon
The Observers Series Part One – The World of Fives is the first in a new science fiction series. Please also see The Interplanetary Geographic Service
Are sales the bane of a self – pub writers life?
My books rank from 20,000 to over 400,000
Of course I was Number one in free thrillers once now I’m 217,150 with that book in overall paid. I suppose that is not bad given the alleged million plus books available. Genre rankings are different again, but without getting into those which are further specified by Amazon location we all have to remember one thing. The ranking are driven by weightings and various algorithms which are known only to Amazon. This is not a problem it is after all their store they can sell and run what they like and rank results how they like. The number would be different for revenue in whichever currency rather than just sales. It will differ in Kindle, hardback, paperback and audio too.
To add to the analysis it of course does not include CreateSpeace, Lulu, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook etc. numbers or any authors selling stuff direct. Getting into the famous Amazon top 100 for anything is a start and we would all like to be there but does it really matter? We want high numbers of sales not just for the revenue (why give them away?) but for reviews and attention. We pay for meaningless advertisements and judge those on views and clicks which may or may not lead to sales. We blog – I’m doing it now, we Facebook, we twitter we hope for reviews from mainstream media. We comment on Goodreads and other web sites overall we try and get noticed.
Is this just some giant self-indulgent ego trip “look at me I’m a writer!” Why are so many people trying a creative element not just writing but music, video, arts including the massive increase in photography. Are we all deluded like the worst performers on a talent show or in a karaoke bar or is there something else going on?
The Internet has given us the opportunity, technology has expanded the tool set. The barriers to entry that traditional publishing upheld have been reduced, but a new hurdle sits in the way, competition. The professional element is hampered just as much as the semi-professional or gifted amateur. Competition for the writer is now not just another professional writer but thousands of amateurs and not so amateurs launching their own output onto the unsuspecting world.
Much of the output in all artistic forms may be considered to be rubbish by so called experts. The professional critics or the amateur ones bemoan the lack of standards whether its artistic brushwork, composition or a self-pub’s grammar. I bemoan the number of dog and cat videos plaguing YouTube. One thing for sure we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. The world has changed we are all going to have to lie with it unless some dystopian catastrophe changes the world. I don’t think any of us really want a world without the Internet digital music, photography or the other benefits no matter how much rubbish is attached.
Once upon a time stable lads bemoaned the introduction of the horseless carriage. To quote a poet (who really can’t sing) the times they are a’ changin‘. We’ll all have to live with it no matter our sales rank.
I’m in trouble. It’s not an unusual state of affairs when it comes to family matters. This one concerns acknowledgements in my second book – To The Survivors.
It seems I gave an acknowledgement in the closing pages to my family except my daughter. At the time she had not read the book, but she has now. Good news is that she liked it, bad news, she noticed her omission. Sorry! You of course helped and supported me and now you have a dedicated blog to acknowledge the fact. She is of course busy with her studies so she has not had time to read the books in the publishing timeframe. Quite right study first, Dad’s requests later.
More generally how many readers actually read the preface/front matter or the closing pages after the end of the story. Kindle defaults settings seem to start at the first formal chapter unless the publisher is careful to change the settings to start at the start. The start of a normal book is of course the Cover. Many writers like me add in quotes, extracts or other starting material. For my first book I added a cast list but I now realise many readers will not have seen it. No wonder they found it complex. Until I changed the settings to start at the start. Of course many writers have shown family trees or lists. For one of my new books I even have a web site to give the back story and hopefully generate some initial interest.
For acknowledgements it’s harder, I normally skip the long lists found in many books of all those that have helped with producing the book. I keep it down to under a page. Then there are the links to other books, and frequently a sample chapter. I have not produced a sample chapter, but I have added a brief description of other books by me.
Some writers have added reviews from newspapers or web sites to their introductions alongside links to web sites, Facebook, Twitter etc. all hoping that one sale will lead to another.
So acknowledgements are important alongside all the other bits either side of the story. I must remember to read them myself and not forget anyone. Thank you for your help, Tasha. Now, can you read the others!
So my first excursion into the world of professional editing is complete. Charlie Bray at The IndieTribe has completed re-edits of my first two books An Agent’s Demise and To The Survivors. Now they are both updated on Kindle, Smashwords and on Lulu for the hard copies.
Firstly an apology:
Sorry fellow authors and Readers.
I wish I could have afforded to do the edits before I launched the books to avoid the review criticism. How many sales lost? Then there is my criticism adding to the overall criticism of self pub books. I cannot reverse the past, just fix the future.
What have I learned from the experience? Lots of things:
- Fresh eyes spot all sorts of issues that readers and I had not seen. Luckily, not plot inconsistencies although I had one character re-appearing when a sentence before they had left the scene. I had not noticed and I hope no readers had. Now fixed.
- It is so easy to get caught up in the story and miss the odd tense issue
- My biggest problem though was punctuation in my grammar. Run on sentences, no commas. Some is clearly style and how I was listening to the words in my head, but now redone; hopefully to the satisfaction of my future readers.
- There is still a lot of conflicting advice especially on dialogue style and contradictions with old advice and education I received.
- Also I still have a frustration with using conjunctions to start sentences especially and and but. Less of an issue with some but I know it may be technically correct I just think it looks wrong.
- The software (Scrivener and Word in my case) is just not accurate enough and almost entirely useless in dialogue. This is where punctuation has to be used to cause pauses and hesitations for how the character is speaking regardless of correct grammar rules. People do not speak in correct grammar. Making written speech comply just looks clunky. Few people converse in a grammatically correct manner.
- Don’t get me into a discussion on English dialects, reginal variations of US, Aus,Can etc. spelling. In the end I don’t care what the Chicago Manual of Style says, which is frequently quoted on discussion forums. It’s English! Now I have my nationalistic rant out of the way let’s move on.
So to the other side of the coin Finance
The outstanding issue, is their a return on the editing investment. I won’t know that for ages. The costs are not easy to cover when only selling a few books per week. Covering £1,000 of editing investment needs nearly £1500 of sales on Kindle at 70% and at an average £3.00 per kindle book needs 500 sales just to break even.
Now I’ll have to advertise again to try and generate interest, more cost to be covered.
Will I do the editing route again – yes because I want my books to be free of that criticism, but it’s still a lot of money to find, to blow on an egotistical journey.
I should be writing a blog. A blog that allows me to link to my books in some way or adds to the greater good (IMHO) with a commentary on passing affairs.
Yesterday I had an idea about writing one describing the reasons why I have given up playing golf, perhaps another day.
I could add more on a whole variety of subjects that I would like to write about, Scottish Independence, the NSA, more on the hacking trial, even the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight. Lots of things to talk about. Instead what have I done? Editing of my sequel to An Agent’s Demise (managed to get a link in somewhere). I have lost track of how many times I have read and re-read sections, trying to hone the plot, justify character’s actions and get rid of the allowed for aloud stupid mistakes. I of course have written about this before, here, but, now I have an editor. I hope I have also learned some rules even though some go against what I was taught years ago.
For example starting sentences with conjunctions like and and but is apparently allowed (not aloud). I was always taught to use two spaces after a full stop (not a period – sorry USA it’s called English for a reason) but apparently that means I am a dinosaur left over from the typewriter age. Professional publishing with its typefaces never used two spaces anyway, allegedly. Now we have serif and sans serif fonts to worry about. With an ebook the publisher has no control over what font the reader uses on whatever screen resolution, in whatever colour (It has a u in it WordPress, Goodreads, et al) or not is used. The quick brown fox Microsoft Word test is always fun in different fonts.
I’m rambling again, I still have another five chapters to edit in An Agent’s Rise before a Beta Reader test then an edit or three. I’m also waiting the return of To The Survivors from a professional edit of the MS. Then I have The Persuasive Man to send off and The World of Fives . I think it’s ready, having incorporated some Beta reader feedback. Maybe one more read through, then I’ll have to start Part Two of the series. I was again asked if I would write a sequel to To The Survivors. I am still not sure, I have to have an idea for the sequel, where does it go? The story I mean, I’m in need of inspiration.
Then maybe in a month or so I may be ready to publish my fourth and fifth books, different genres once more. Cover design, formatting, uploading (Smashwords I’m looking at you) then marketing. I was not going to do any links but here I am. A page of non-blog rambles with links to all my current and next two books neatly embedded. Anyone would think I had done that deliberately. Now where’s those badly used discarded golf clubs, I hear there are good prices for scrap metal!