January 9th, 2015

Translation Offer

I just read this post from Benjamin Rosenbaum, where he points out the unfair advantage English speakers have in selling stories, and offers to try to redress the balance a little by translating stories from German to English.  Since he wrote the post nearly a year ago it's probably pointless to make any comments at his blog, so I thought I'd talk about what he said here.

Says Rosenbaum, "I'd like to see more authors do this. I'd like to see us in the English speaking world make translation a regular part of our literary practice, the way it is for authors most other places. It's interesting, it's invigorating, and it's only right. You don't have to be a specialized translator. You could just do one a year. Why not?"

So -- I would love to translate a short story from Spanish into English.  Like Rosenbaum, I would do this on spec, and only worry about money if the author manages to sell the story.  He suggests 25% for the translator if the story is sold, which sounds about right.

Unlike Rosenbaum, though, I don't want to try to sell the story to an English market -- the author would be responsible for selling it him- or herself.  Now that most submissions can be sent by email from anywhere in the world this doesn't seem like too much of a hardship for writers from other countries.  And of course I'd be happy to make suggestions about where to send it.

Rosenbaum seems to have thought about this a lot.  I can't improve on his list of what he wants from a non-Anglophone writer, so I'll just repeat it here (slightly abridged):

If you are an author from the non-Anglophone world:
    •    Find a story you think we should translate.
    •    The story must be under 7000 words and previously published in a significant market.
    •    You should specifically think that it is a fit for me because of what I write, rather than just "hey I heard there's a guy who will translate stuff on spec."
    •    Contact me here, and tell me:
    ◦    about the story in brief
    ◦    where it was previously published
    ◦    how to contact you.

One more reason I'd like to do this -- I'm really curious about the kinds of stories that are being written in the Spanish-speaking world these days, and would love to see what's out there.