I'm a bilingual educator with more than 26 years of experience as a teacher, curriculum writer, and staff development presenter. I use both English and Spanish on a daily basis.
Even with all that experience, working to have a book translated to a second language as an author is not an easy task. Several factors have to be considered before undertaking that cost.
Is the content relevant in that second language?
Is there a market for that material in a second language?
Would doing a second language release bring in a profit?
Who is your target audience, targeted release country?
What approach will you take to market that second language release?
How will you be able to dialogue with fans that discover this new work of yours? Are you yourself fluent in this language?
Is your English text solid enough that the content will translate well?
How will you go about finding a translator?
How will you be able to gauge the quality of the translations you receive?
How will the cost of translation be determined?
When I created the storyboard for Harvey Bear Gets Rescued/El osito Harvey es rescatado, I knew it had to be a bilingual layout. I needed his story of hope and healing to be able to be read together by children and their parents. Many of their parents speak only Spanish, and I had to honor that.
I needed his story of hope and healing to be able to be read together by children and their parents.
In fact, I almost walked away from a book deal because I was adamant that Harvey's story needed to be told in both languages. I remember being told that the time frame for my publishing turnaround was too tight and that the publishing house was not used to laying out a simultaneous English/Spanish book with full bleed illustrations, and that it was best to do a first run only in English.
After hearing so many rejections from other publishing houses, the ball was now in my court. Was I really going to walk away from an offer on the table? I took a deep breath and knew that I would walk away because Harvey's story needed to be told in two languages. But, before I completely walked away, I asked the publishing house to hear me out. I asked them to trust me on the layout of the languages and to handle getting the work translated and proofed in Spanish.
The person that you team up with has to not only be knowledgeable in that language . . . but they must also have a passion for the content and being able to keep the author's voice and intended message alive.
I can tell you that it's a huge leap of faith to undertake such a job. The person that you team up with has to not only be knowledgeable in that language in an academic capacity but they must also have a passion for the content and being able to keep the author's voice and intended message alive, so literal translations simply won't cut it.
The final question remains: Are translations right for you and your book? I suggest doing a pros and cons list on the topic.
If you'd like to hear more about my author translation experience, follow this link to a write up I did on my author site that talks more about my journey.
Best of luck in your writing endeavors,
Aurora M. González de Freire
Harvey Bear & Author