What kind of books are suitable for translation?

Judging by the sheer number of novels in translation released by German publishers, it is clear that interest in books by English-language authors remains as high as ever. In 2015, translations made up 11.4% of the book market, of which nearly 60% were translated from English (source: summary of survey of the book market in Germany 2016, Der Buchmarkt in Deutschland – Buch und Buchhandel in Zahlen 2016).

A look at Amazon’s Kindle Top 100 Bestsellers list for Germany reveals that German readers love mysteries, thrillers and romance novels. And while the market for historical fiction may not be quite as strong as it has been in recent years, this genre still has plenty of fans hungry for reading fodder. The same can be said for paranormal fiction – even considering the golden age of this genre is probably behind us, its fan base is still growing. Then there are the genres that many publishers have written off, like the military romance novel. While conventional wisdom has it that this type of novel doesn’t sell in Germany, that there’s no market for it, this can also be seen as something of a chicken-and-egg problem: do these books really not sell because there’s no interest in them? Or are sales figures in this genre so low because there just aren’t enough books on the market, so comparative figures aren’t very meaningful (or aren’t available in the first place)?

While you’re considering genre, take a look at other authors who are writing in the same genre as you. Are any of their books already being sold in Germany? Are they selling? Of course, at the same time, you need to think about whether your books are right for translation in terms of content.

It’s important to keep in mind that reading is an emotional experience. That means that predicting whether a book has what it takes to compete on the German market is not an exact science. Your story or series might be just what German readers have been waiting for. Whether you’re trying to break into a highly competitive market like mysteries or romance novels, or crack an untapped subgenre like “sports romance” or “contemporary Western romance”, there is success to be had in any genre, as long as the book is good and the marketing suits the overall concept.


From: “Selling your novel in Germany”

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