Best practises for pitching literature translations to a publisher
Thread poster: Ian Stephenson

Ian Stephenson
Local time: 10:06
French to English
+ ...
May 28

Hello everyone,

This is my first time posting in the forum so I apologise if my question has already been answered, I was unable to find it in the forums.

I have several questions regarding the "best practises" for pitching a literature translation to a publisher (this is my first time do it via the "traditional method", i.e. not via personal contacts. I have already confirmed that the rights for an English translation of the book in question are available, so I am now
... See more
Hello everyone,

This is my first time posting in the forum so I apologise if my question has already been answered, I was unable to find it in the forums.

I have several questions regarding the "best practises" for pitching a literature translation to a publisher (this is my first time do it via the "traditional method", i.e. not via personal contacts. I have already confirmed that the rights for an English translation of the book in question are available, so I am now preparing a sample).

1) When pitching the translation to a potential publisher, is it generally standard to send the sample immediately with the first email or do publishers appreciate something along the lines of "may I send you a sample I have prepared" after making the initial pitch? What is your general method at this stage?

2) How large is an acceptable sample? 10 A4 pages, more, fewer? Or is a proportional sample better (for example 5 or 10% of the book)?

3) Is it acceptable to send a sample from somewhere in the middle of the book in order to give a better picture of the text as a whole or is it standard to send a sample that begins from page 1 of the source text?

Many thanks in advance for any help that can be provided.
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Hafsa
Local time: 09:06
Arabic to English
+ ...
Interested in the topic May 28

I am sorry I cannot be of help but I'm interested as well in this topic. I have the same questions. I hope someone will help us

 

The Misha
Local time: 04:06
Russian to English
+ ...
Chances are you are going about it backwards May 29

Or rather, whether you are will depend on what country you or the publisher are in and what the industry's current practices are there. Without knowing at least that much, anything one could say about this issue is pure speculation.

In the US, you do not "pitch a translation" to the publisher. In fact, you do not "pitch" anything. Publishers simply do not deal with authors directly. I mean, there's no law against sending your manuscript, or translation, in your case, to a publisher,
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Or rather, whether you are will depend on what country you or the publisher are in and what the industry's current practices are there. Without knowing at least that much, anything one could say about this issue is pure speculation.

In the US, you do not "pitch a translation" to the publisher. In fact, you do not "pitch" anything. Publishers simply do not deal with authors directly. I mean, there's no law against sending your manuscript, or translation, in your case, to a publisher, but it will go straight into trash, or at best to a "slush pile" where it will remain buried forever. Authors usually begin by finding agents, which is quite an undertaking in its own right. Alternatively, you are free to publish your oeuvre on Amazon yourself, but good luck promoting and selling it under your own power. If a publisher is interested in a foreign book, they will have their own lawyers handle the foreign rights and then approach YOU to have it translated. Except it is very unlikely it will actually be you. Why take chances when they can go to a trusted provider they have already worked with before?

I don't know much about publishing industries in other countries, but my guess is their practices will be fairly similar across the entire first world. Why? Because they are businesses, and they do what they do for the sole purpose of making a buck. They have their own ideas about what will sell and what won't, and those may be fairly different from yours.

I am not saying that it is altogether impossible that a big, juicy international publisher will pluck you out of the mud down below and make your pick of a book an all-time bestseller and you a rock star translator. After all, that frog did become a prince once, didn't he?

Whatever you do, good luck to you.
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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:06
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Best practice May 30

To answer your questions,

1) Whether or not to send a sample depends on the results of your research. Each publisher has his/her own preferences.

2. Usually you submit between 10 and 20 pages, in some cases a short chapter.

3. There's nothing wrong with a sample from somewhere within the book just as long as you give them a brief synopsis.

Good luck!


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Presentation and Negotiation skills May 30

There were several cases when freelancers and agencies offered a short (2-20 pages) literary translation or site localization promo/demo to the owner or the author, getting the go-ahead. Sometimes it just didn't work; sometimes the owner tried to knock the propose off, arguing the translator had no other choice (client), yet still...

I believe it's not a leading question about substantiated rates only, but whether one really can make a decent presentation that he or she is able to p
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There were several cases when freelancers and agencies offered a short (2-20 pages) literary translation or site localization promo/demo to the owner or the author, getting the go-ahead. Sometimes it just didn't work; sometimes the owner tried to knock the propose off, arguing the translator had no other choice (client), yet still...

I believe it's not a leading question about substantiated rates only, but whether one really can make a decent presentation that he or she is able to provide quality services timely and no problem. The first step--half of the job is already done.

On the other hand, literary translation is a monumental yet thankless task involving a tremendous amount of preparatory work and researches, condescendingly taken as granted.

As for me, I would NOT consider such a job unless (1) I both (A) really know and (B) like (2) the author/bio, (3) the story/plot/genre, (4) the manner/audience/purpose, (5) the pragmatics/references--and I am really-really into (6) spending extra hours finding and comparing best equivalents for the same price, and so on--at my own expense.

It's like translating a number of texts, plus royalties, lawyers, critics, and other unwanted stuff pregnant with consequences: Not my pen of fountains.
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