rgreenhill's picture
rgreenhill from London is reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle December 8, 2011 - 3:45pm

Hi everyone,

Don't know if anyone has any experience of this or not, but I thought this would be the best place to ask!

I'm currently reading a Dutch book consisting of 10 short stories by the same author. I'm really enjoying it and I think it's a shame that it's linguistically inacessible to a lot of people. Funnily enough, I also enjoy translation, so I've been thinking over the past few days about having a go at translating it (this thought also occurred to me with another book, I spoke to the author once and he told me that it was his version of Less Than Zero, so I think that would definitely have global appeal - would be a bit more challenging for me though!).

Problem is, I have no idea how to go about doing this! So if anyone here has any experience with translating fiction or has any ideas on how to go about it, I would love to know! The main things I'm thinking about are:

1) Who should I approach in the first place (author/his publisher)?

2) What should I say to the person I approach (what I mean here is, should I be looking at selling the idea to them in terms of doing a bit of research and saying why the book would appeal globally, what publishers could potentially be interested etc. And should I provide a sample translation of a few stories, or ask them first if they would like to see a sample)?

3) Is there actually any point in me doing this (in terms of, do publishers tend to approach their own established publishers if they want to translate something and are they not going to be willing to take a chance on a someone without any professional translation experience)?

I know I might be asking a lot here but I like the community here and thought it'd make sense to ask some fellow writers/readers. Any ideas or advice would be much appreciated! Also if I do end up translating one of the stories I might end up posting it on here (not sure where though, would that go under writer's workshop even though it's not my original work?) - so let me know if you'd be interested in that!


Typewriter Demigod's picture
Typewriter Demigod from London is reading "White Noise" by DeLilo, "Moby-Dick" by Hermann Mellivile and "Uylsses" by Joyce December 8, 2011 - 3:49pm

Well, you need to get translation rights, or the publishing rights in other countries. You get that from the publisher. This may take some time. Then you contact the author and discuss about translation, ie, how actually to do it, what does the author want.  And the point of doing this is to share the love. I'm assuming you're better than fluent in Dutch.

rgreenhill's picture
rgreenhill from London is reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle December 8, 2011 - 3:54pm

Ok brilliant! That's pointing me in the right direction, thanks for the advice. What you mention about contacting the author, that's what really made enjoy translation in the first place. I worked on a collaborative translation project in my final year at uni where we translated a chapter of a Dutch book and we had the author visit our uni a couple of times to discuss the translation, as well as webcam conferences and an online forum where we could post questions for him - he was a great guy to work with and was really inspiring stuff. And yep yep there's no problems on the Dutch fluency side of things.