When does a translation pay off?

The next question is: When is the right time to invest in one or more translations? We get a lot of inquiries from authors who have just published their first novel and want to commission a translation right away. Usually, we advise them not to. For one thing, a translation is a significant investment, and it should be a carefully considered and calculated part of an author’s business plan. For another, this would mean that right away, the author will have to mount a major marketing campaign not just in one language and in one country, but on two fronts at once. In most cases, this is going to be simply too great of a challenge. Compare this to authors who have already made a name for themselves in their home market, and who have a large fan base –that fan base is most certainly going to include a number of international readers who are going to take on the role of multipliers in the marketing of the translation. That’s publicity you can’t buy, and something that is going to make author’s life a lot easier on the marketing side.


Indie Translations tip:

  • Consider whether your book is right for translation. That means thinking about genre, marketability, main characters and wordplay. Also, make sure that you own the translation rights.
  • Figure out whether a translation fits into your business plan financially, whether you have the time and financial resources to market your book in two countries, and whether you can leverage your international readers as marketing multipliers.


From: “Selling your novel in Germany”

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