1. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    Translating my novel into English before publishing?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by There_She_Goes, Jul 21, 2012.

    Hi!
    So, I've got a bit of a problem with my novel. Or should I say with my home country... :D

    What I write is considered too... hmm... naive? In my home country publishers aren't interested in the kind of things I write. They prefer to opt for friable little story lines with wannabe perspicacious observations.

    So I haven't offered my manuscript to the publishers in my country yet and I never will.

    Would it be irrational to have it translated into English and then offer it to English publishers? Even though I hate it how straight-laced the publishers in my country are, I still want to write in my mother tongue. But trust me, in my country literature isn't about making people happy and taking them to another world. It's about confusing the absolute crap out of them.

    So, any advice?

    (I'm being very critical of my country's cultural life, but the point is translating :D)
     
  2. bsbvermont
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    bsbvermont Active Member

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    Two quick questions: What language are you writing in? and Are you writing about your own country (characters and setting, etc.)? I think you need to consider who your target audience is and why and think about how which language you publish in will affect that audience. I'm curious to hear more!
     
  3. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    If you get it published by a company, it should be translated by someone paid to do so I believe.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unfortunately, I'd guess that having the novel translated would cost you more than you'd earn from the novel. Now, that may or may not be an issue, but if you're doing this in any way for income, I think you'd end up with a loss.

    (Edited to add: That ignores all sort of other issues, such as the voice and quality of the novel could survive translation so that the result is publishable. I'd have worries about that, but i don't have experience with it, so I won't address it.)
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Have you ever heard the phrase "lost in translation"? Translating from one language to another is not a perfect process, and compromise is always knocking at the door. Nuances are irretrievably lost. The rhythm of the writing changes. Any double meanings or puns m ay be impossible to translate.

    The richer the original writing, the more is lost during the translation process, and these are often the very elements that mean the difference between a fine piece of writing that is enthusiastically accepted by a publisher and just another dull manuscript to feed the Rejected bin.
     
  6. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    Ok, my mother tongue is Finnish... Don't get me wrong, Finland is an OK country, but the cultural life, literature... :((((((

    Anyways, my novel has a universal subject. And I actually never write about Finland or Finns or Finnish things. I write stories about for example the Holocaust, WW2, US in the 1950's and Spain.
     
  7. bsbvermont
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    bsbvermont Active Member

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    If that is the case, and Finnish is not integral to your novel, you should try writing in English (it sounds like you are fairly proficient) and then have a native English speaker as a writing buddy. They can let you know if something sounds off. (I do this with a friend of mine who translates books from English to French/French to English).

    I agree with the others that paying a translation service is very expensive.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you don't mind the hard work, you could always write it in Finnish, and then translate it yourself into English. A writer friend of mine did that - she's American but somehow decided to write her fantasy romance novel in Czech, and she's in the process of translating it all back into English. Think she's about half way :)

    But is there a particular reason why you wanna write your novel in Finnish? If it's just a lack of confidence, I think you should give writing in English a go. From your posts, your English sounds good enough. Why don't you just write in English and then get a proofreader to correct it for you? It'd certainly be cheaper than a translation.
     
  9. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    I hadn't even thought about writing in English let alone translating the novel myself... :eek:

    But it's a good idea, I'll definitely give it a try :D.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree that's the best path to take... and probably the only way you'll have any chance of seeing it published in the uk or us... be sure to write it with one of those markets as your goal, so it will have the appropriate spelling, idioms, et al...
     
  11. yuri
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    yuri New Member

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    Have you tried finding a publisher? It seems to me like you're thinking its the contemporary art in your country that's going to hold you back but how do you know whether your book is even good enough? I would try both: send it to different publishers in Finland, try to get a literary agent there and also translate it into English. If there's no finish books like yours, maybe you need to be the first one to establish them.

    Good luck!
     
  12. Blue Stasz
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    Blue Stasz Member

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    I also advise to write in English, and not in your mother language. This is what I'm doing anyway. It really helps to be able to thinking in both languages. Anyway... a few years ago I translated some poems I'd written several years ago from German into English, and it was a pain in the behind. Even if you're fluent in both languages, something gets lost. Right now I'm having the same problem backwards and need to translate an article I found remarkable about my old home town because I want to put it on my blog. Also, when I start writing I make sure I haven't talked or written in German recently - it messes up my English :) Unless you have money to burn I wouldn't spend this on a professional translator either.
     
  13. jo_green
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    jo_green New Member

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    Hi!! I found this subject very interesting, because i am also thinking lately of translating my novel in English! I am from Greece and thus i write in Greek. I truly love my mother tongue, but its very difficult -nearly impossible- to get your work published here. In order to do so, you have to already be a well-known writer, or you need to have connections. Unfortunately, the system here works in a very different way. That is why i want to translate it. The story i am writing about, takes place in Athens, Paris, Lyon and New York. Its not so much about the culture, its about love, loss, death, personal values, right and wrong, role models and family. Therefore, it could appeal in us or uk audiences. I am going to translate it by myself and then hire someone to edit it for me. I suggest you do the same! I am dure it will cost a lot less this way and since you will be the one to translate it, your personal touch will remain!! Dont worry about agents or publishers right now! Just try to do your best and make sure that your work is "perfect" according to your personal standards of "perfection", before you send it to the agents. Ask yourself "Do i find my story interesting?Would i spent 10 hours with the main characters?". Be honest with yourself! If the answer is "yes", then i am sure a lot of people would like to spend these 10 hours to read your book and that is all you need!! Complete your work and then worry about agents and publishers! I wish you good luck :D
     

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