Le French Book Empowers Hybrid Translators

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Translation publisher Le French Book discusses the new publishing landscape and what it means for translators.

Hybrid translators
The publishing world is ready for hybrid translators.

“Hybrid” is a new buzzword in the publishing industry—there are hybrid authors, hybrid publishers, hybrid markets. For translation publisher Le French Book, the publishing world is ready for hybrid translators too. And as they are specialized in translated works, they are committed to empowering this new kind of translator.

Le French Book bills itself as a digital-first publisher focused on making top mysteries and thrillers from France available in English. For the company’s CTO Fabrice Neuman, “This means more than just publishing e-books in addition to print books, it means everything digital, including social media, online presence, exploring new printing solutions, and looking forward to where content will go in the future.”

This is just one aspect of the changing industry, according to Le French Book. Some people claim such changes open the door for more translations. In June, the translation blog Three Percent announced a 26.3% increase of works in translation (all languages) from 2011 to 2012. Sounds impressive, but this still only means upwards of 453 works in translation in the United States. An improvement, yes, but hardly floodgates opening.

New models
However, the evolving industry does mean some very profound changes for actual translators. As for authors, it is now possible, and even necessary, for translators to take a more proactive and prominent role in publishing. Authors who do so are called “authorpreneurs,” which would make translatorpreneurs those who participate in creating a brand around their translations and promoting it through a variety of outlets.

Translation has traditionally been a thankless job. Translators were shadow figures, with their names in small print if mentioned at all, decried by editors, lambasted by the original-language authors, and the first blamed by critics for any weaknesses in a text. In addition, the usual model gives translators such a small percentage of royalties, if any at all, that they never earn out their advance.

Now, however, new models are opening up options to translators. These include revenue sharing, which basically means that the translator gets a higher percentage of royalties than previously, and in counterpart, less of an advance, or no advance at all. This ultimately propels the translator to a rightful co-author status. As authors are learning these days, for a book to be successful, authors—and therefore translators—need to be entirely involved in the promotion and online presence.

What does this mean for translators?

  •     A greater stake and potentially greater rewards
  •     More recognition if the work is successful, along with more income.
  •     Working with the translation publisher and the original author to make that promotion and online presence possible and build the brand.
  •     Marketing the book as an author would market the book.

Diversity: key for professional translators
The transition also implies another management of literary translation work. As self-published authors are learning, the more books an author has out there, the more likely they are to make a living. Another lesson professional authors are learning is that diversified income is one way to leave the day job behind. For translators, this can mean also doing “translations for hire”—no royalties, just up-front payment—be it literary or technical. As with any business, a diverse portfolio is a better guarantee of a prosperous future.

About Le French Book

Le French Book (http://www.lefrenchbook.com) is a New York-based digital-first publisher that brings France's best mysteries, thrillers, novels, short stories, and non-fiction to new readers across the English-speaking world. Its motto is: “If we love it, we’ll translate it.”

©2013 Le French Book, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is subject to change without notice.

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Anne Trager
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