#IWSG Translating Self-Published Novels?

This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month.


As many of you know, I live and work in Spain, although I write novels in English. Some of my readers are other English-speaking people who live in Spain, or Spanish speakers whose English is good enough to read fiction, for example English teachers. However, most of my readers come from the United States and United Kingdom, although there are also some in Canada and Australia, too.

My numerous Spanish friends are constantly asking me to translate my novel into Spanish so that they can read it. Although I love my Spanish friends, I’m also aware that there are 399 million Spanish speakers in the world, who are potential readers. So, I’ve been thinking it’s a good idea for some time. I even contacted a fellow blogger and virtual friend, who is also a translator, but prices for professional literary translators are high, and I’m still struggling to get my English editions noticed, so I can’t cope with that extra expense right now.

Technically, I’m bilingual. I’m a very strange type of bilingual. My written English is better than my written Spanish, probably because I almost always read and write in English. On the other hand, my spoken Spanish is sometimes more fluent than my spoken English, probably because I live in Spain, and it’s the language I speak most of the time.

I couldn’t translate my novels on my own due to lack of time and expertise, on the other hand, the cost of a professional translator plus proofreading, editing, formatting, and promotion, adds a great deal of expense for an indie author!

However, I still want to translate my novels. I’ve found a way out, I think.

First let’s tackle the obstacles. My two greatest setbacks are time and money. Time, I can’t make, but I can plan and space it out. My novel has 33 chapters, plus an epilogue. If I take care of one chapter a week, that gives me about eight months to gradually get it done. I started in November, which means it should be ready to publish some time next summer. That’s my deadline, and I’m happy with it.

So, I’ve solved the question of lack of time, by being organized, systematic, and patient. Now my next obstacle, which is really the most serious: lack of expertise.

I’ve read almost all (and I’m not exaggerating too much) of the Victorian authors, but I’ve read very few 19th century novels in Spanish. I think about four, and I only liked one or two, By Benito Pérez Galdós. So, I just haven’t got the language needed for this type of literature to be at its best, and quite honestly, I’ve seen to many terrible translations into Spanish, and I don’t want that to happen to my novel.

I’ve found a complex way around that, too. I’ve found a relatively inexpensive translator on Fiverr, and as the payment is being spread over eight months, that makes it much easier to afford. However, I’m not 100% happy with the translations (will I ever be!?) so, I’m working with a team.

This is what’s happening. First I go through the initial, Fiverr translation and make suggestions on the text. Secondly, I go though it again with a Spanish ex-colleague and retired professor of English at the university of Córdoba. Thirdly I’m giving chapters out to various Spanish teachers and professors of Spanish, as well as readers, who do not speak English, at all (so their Spanish is not ‘contaminated’ by English!). At least two of them will be reading the whole book, others will just be looking at some chapters. Fourthly, I’ll take their suggestions and make the final decisions. Finally it will go to a professional Spanish editor.

I’ve no idea how this project will trun out. I’ll let you know how it goes next summer!

Have any of you had any experiences of translating your work?

I’ve found a couple of recent and interesting articles on the subject:

http://annerallen.blogspot.com.es/2015/09/how-to-get-your-indie-book-translated.html by Anne R. Allen.
Another at the Creative Pen: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2015/11/19/translation-profanacion-spanish/

Check out what some of the other Insecure Writers are concerned about here!