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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, September 20, 2015

How to Get Your Indie Book Translated and Reach the Growing "Globile" Market

by Mark Williams

How would you like to double, triple or even quadruple your titles without writing a single extra word?

Think E Unum Pluribus.

The United States' original motto "E Pluribus Unum" translates as "From Many, One", a reference to the creation of one country – the USA – from the myriad colonies that fought the British for independence.

E Unum Pluribus, therefore, translates to "From One, Many."

No, I'm not advocating chopping long books into short ones just to game the system. But rather turning one book into many, without writing an extra word, and at a stroke increasing your potential audience reach by literally hundreds of millions. 

Translation is not just for the Big 5 anymore

Translation is the name of the game, and if you haven't been thinking seriously about translations so far, I can promise you will be by the time you finish this post.

English is the lingua franca of the world. As authors it is our single greatest asset. We have immense reach simply by writing in the world's most widespread language.

But beyond that reach are not just hundreds of millions, but literally billions of readers who do not speak or read English.

Back in 2010 Big 5 publishers (then the Big 6) could get an elite handful of top authors into translation around the globe, but even these had limits. Their books would only be available in a few big stores in a few big cities in the richer countries of the world, and few people could afford them.

Five years later…

I'm an indie author. No Big 5 publisher backing me. But right now I've got titles live and selling in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Chinese.

I have translations underway into Japanese, Norwegian, Dutch, Afrikaans, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Ukrainian.

And I'm actively seeking translation-partners in Vietnamese, Indonesian, Filipino, Turkish, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Swedish and a host of other languages too long to list here.

So much has changed, and the changes are profound.  

A brief trip down memory lane:

Ponder these words of wisdom from Newsweek in early 1995.

"Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries, and multimedia classrooms… [They say] we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure. The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper…

"We're promised instant catalog shopping — just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month?"

Amazon was barely six months old when that article was written. Ebooks were slightly more than a figment of a 14 year-old's imagination, but not by much.

Back then the internet existed, but who really cared? To connect to the internet you not only needed an expensive desktop or laptop computer, but you needed reliable electricity, a landline telephone connection (ideally next door to the telephone exchange), and an expensive data plan from an ISP.

If you wanted to exchange an email with someone in another city or country, or even your next-door neighbour, the person at the other end had to have the same equipment. And they had to have it switched on and be sat at the desk to know you'd emailed them.

The internet was the exclusive preserve of the wealthy and tech savvy in big cities in a handful of countries. And who really needed it anyway? What was it for?

There was no Facebook. No Twitter. No YouTube. No iPad. No…

Fast forward to 2007

In April 2007 the first iPad had appeared. But it was just for geeks.

YouTube, Facebook and Twitter existed, but few people were taking them seriously.

Twitter was just one year old. YouTube was just two years old. Facebook was the granddaddy, having launched in 2004, but apart from college students, who knew? The social media experts of the day were advising people to ignore this new fad, Facebook. MySpace was the height of social media savvy in 2007.

And then came the Kindle.

Amazon had come of age by then and was not only delivering cheap print books to our door on a scale unimaginable in 1995, but in 2007 it had just brought out this new device, the Kindle.

But the internet was still the exclusive preserve of the rich First World countries. You still needed an expensive desktop computer, reliable electric, a landline telephone connection, and to be living in a big city where a local ISP existed.

By 2009-10 strange stories were emerging from Japan that people were reading books on their phones. Books? Most of us were still struggling with text messages that we had to abbreviate to mindless gobbledegook just to cram onto those tiny screens.

The experts assured us it was just a fad. Reading on phones was "peculiarly Japanese" and would never happen outside of Japan.

Fast forward five more years...

Today we can now not just buy and read books, exchange emails and engage in social media on phones and tablets, but do our weekly shopping, book plane tickets and make restaurant reservations, stream TV and films… It would be quicker to list what you can't do on a phone.

And not just in big cities next to the telephone exchange like in 1995, but anywhere a wi-fi connection can reach.

At which point you may be wondering what this has to do with authors getting their titles translated into other languages.

Here's the thing:

Way back in 2009 when the Kindle opened to indie authors, the ebook market was, for all practical purposes, the United States. And the ebook market was a handful of people who owned a Kindle or another brand of ereader. In 2010 that market became the US and UK. Both English language.

Today there are over a dozen Kindle stores across the world, not just in English (US, UK, Australia, Canada, India) but in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese. There's even a Kindle China store.

That alone should have you thinking seriously about translations.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The Kindle store may be the biggest ebook store in most of those countries (Canada, the Netherlands and China being the exceptions) but ebooks are being read all over the world.

Consider this:

The Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico is in November. It's the biggest Spanish-language book fair in the world.

Publishing Perspectives reported that the Guadalajara Rights Center – a meeting place for publishers to exchange foreign-language rights - had sold out its 125 tables several months in advance, a sure sign of trad pub's growing interest in the global Spanish book market.

There is a global New Renaissance unfolding right now, and the Big 5 are preparing to rake in the cash from it.

  • Penguin Random House (PRH) this month reported parent company Bertelsmann has seen its highest revenues since 2007, thanks in large part to PRH's expanded global reach. PRH reported "excellent performance in Latin America and double-digit growth in (Latin American) e-book sales."
  • There's a new ebook megastore, Orbile, opening in Mexico this month, and Kobo is handling its ebooks. 
  • Amazon has Kindle stores in Mexico and Brazil. Apple is in Latin America. Google Play has ebook stores in 17 Latin American countries. And there are also countless "local" ebook retailers in the region. 

The big publishers are well positioned to reap the rewards as the Latin American ebook market blooms. Indie authors can do well there too. 

Easy access through the above-mentioned stores, and just this month the Italian aggregator Streetlib announced a deal to get indie titles into the key Latin American ebook retailer BajaLibros.

As for the rest of the world…opportunities abound. The global ebook market is about to blossom.

Smartphones are bringing even bigger changes

Up until the start of this decade, the World Wide Web was something only the lucky few could actually participate in.

For most people in the Third World, reliable electric and a landline telephone connection were unaffordable luxuries you hoped your grandchildren might one day live to see.

But then "globile" happened. Global mobile, that is. The phenomenal rise of the global smartphone, no longer the exclusive preserve of the rich west, but an everyday device for people across the planet.

The rest of the world – even the poorest nations on the map – have quite simply skipped those painful desktop decades and gone straight from the pre-internet (and even pre-telephone) era to the age of 4G internet and smartphones.

Today there are over two billion – no, that's not a typo – two billion people around the world with a smartphone in their hands and a connection to the internet.

That's two billion people who could potentially be reading your ebooks.

Many read English, of course. We are soooo lucky!

And for the rest of the planet, English is the second language of myriad countries, and that number is growing by the day.

In China there are over 300 million people learning English right now, and millions more are signing up every month. Very soon there will be more English-language learners in China than there are people in the United States.

But that's a tiny fraction of the Chinese population. If you want to top the Chinese ebook charts you need to think seriously about a translation into Mandarin.

The Exploding "Globile" Market

A reminder – "globile" means global mobile. It's this brave new world where two billion (and rising) people around the planet are our potential audience.

How does an audience of five billion sound?

Seriously. That's how many people will be connected to the internet and potentially reading our books in the very near future.

As of this summer India officially has more internet users than the USA has people. Thirty million more!

And fifty million of those connected to the internet for the first time in the past six months.

To ram home the significance of this, the USA has just 280 million people online. Yet the USA has 86% of its population online. India? Just 27%.

By end 2017 India will have five hundred million people connected to the internet.

And here's where it gets really exciting. Those projections are based on current take-up rates. They don't take into account projects like Google Loon, Internet Saathi or Facebook Aquila, which are going to wildly accelerate such take-up.

Google Loon and Internet bicycles

You may be thinking Google Loon is a term of abuse you shout at Google's driverless cars, but Google has a vision where everyone on the planet will be connected to the internet. Not in some distant century, but in the next decade.

Google Loon is Google's internet balloon project. High-flying internet-relay balloons that will bring the internet to remote areas where a traditional cable or wi-fi connection simply isn't viable.

Google Loon plans to bring the internet to remote parts of the USA and Canada, for example, currently without access. And it plans to bring the internet to the Third World.

In July Google signed an agreement with Sri Lanka to give the entire island internet access by balloon. A case of science-fiction literally becoming reality. Arthur C. Clarke, who lived in Sri Lanka, "predicted" the idea many years before.

Google also has more down-to-earth methods of getting the world connected. 

Google's Internet Saathi project, just launched this summer, is taking the internet to millions of women in remote villages in India. By bicycle. Trained teams touring India by bike showing rural women how to connect to the internet with their smartphones.

It's a scenario that, just a few short years ago, was quite unthinkable.

Facebook's Internet.org and Aquila drones.

And it's just the beginning. Facebook is also in on the act.

Facebook has this wonderful project called internet.org, which brings (limited) free internet access to some of the poorest nations on the planet.

And then there's Facebook's Aquila drones.

While Amazon is working on drones that will one day deliver your POD book to someone's door, Facebook's Aquila drones – each the size of a Boeing 747, solar powered and flying at 60,000 feet – will be delivering your ebooks, tweets and Facebook posts to places that right now can only dream of connecting to the internet.

Facebook and Google are also using satellites to bring the internet to the world. And they’re not alone. At the end of August the third Immarsat Global Express broadband satellites was launched from Kazakhstan and will orbit over the Pacific.

Also at the end of August the Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS) started commercial operations. The PCCS links the USA, via Florida, with the Caribbean nations, Central America and northern South America as far as Ecuador, meaning millions more people across the Caribbean and Latin America have access to 4G-standard internet service.  

The Internet Saathi project and ebooks

But let’s come back to the Internet Saathi project to remind us why this matters to authors.

Over the next eighteen months five million women in 45,000 Indian villages will be getting lessons in how to use their smartphones to connect to the internet.

Google last month tweeted that the first rural women student, Jayant, had successfully used her smartphone to look up information about the cattle she rears to support her family.

The internet is a truly wonderful thing.

But it won’t just change Jayant’s life in practical terms like providing information about her cattle. It will also open up a world of entertainment and social engagement previously unknown to her.

How long before Jayant and the other five million women in this project will friend you on Facebook, retweet one of your tweets, or read one of your ebooks?

But Google's South Asia VP Rajan Anandan warns that while the English language has dominated the growth of the internet in India so far, "the next 100 million Internet users will not be fluent in English".

That’s one hundred million reasons to start thinking about translations into India's myriad local languages.

India is the second most populated country on the planet. On current projections it will soon have more people than China.

China is currently the world's largest smartphone market. India is expected to jump into second place ahead of the USA as soon as 2017.

A reminder, every smartphone and tablet out there is a device people could be reading our ebooks on. So should we be focused on the US market and ignore the rest of the world?

We can and of course should all stay focused on the big western market(s) that sustains us now.

But it’s not rocket science to see the way things are going.

The US and UK markets are not going to get any less crowded with titles. Just the opposite. If we’re not big name authors then getting discovered is a growing challenge. 

The more titles we have out, the more chance there is a reader will find us.

Which brings us back to E Unum Pluribus

From one, many. What’s that all about?

Put simply, if you’ve got 2 titles in English then, obviously, you’ve just 2 titles in your global catalogue.

But get those 2 titles translated into French and you suddenly have 4 titles available, and have added tens of millions of French-speaking readers to your potential audience, pretty much without having written an extra word.

Potential readers not just in France, but in Belgium and the European principalities, in Canada, not to mention Morocco, Algeria, Senegal. Niger, Benin, Togo, the Ivory Coast…

Now get those same 2 English-language books into Spanish. Your 2-book portfolio has suddenly become 6, and you have a readership not just in Spain but across most of Latin America, in the USA and around the world.

Add Italian and German translations to your repertoire and you increase your 2 book portfolio to 10 titles. Add Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese translations to the list... And why not go for broke and throw in some Chinese translations too?

When complete your two titles will have become 2 x English, 2 x Spanish, 2 x Portuguese, 2 x French, 2 x German, 2 x Italian, 2 x Dutch, 2 x Japanese and 2 x Chinese.

Your 2 English-language titles have suddenly become 18 titles.

5 English-language books? How does 45 titles in your global portfolio grab you?

And did I mention box-sets?

But why stop there? As said earlier, I’m actively seeking translation-partners in Vietnamese, Indonesian, Filipino, Turkish, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Swedish, etc.

None of these are random choices, but driven by the way the nascent global markets are shaping up.

"But I can’t afford to get even one of my books translated into one language, let alone all of them translated into more languages than I’ve had hot dinners. How much is this costing you?"

A lot less than you'd think, is the answer.

Translation Partnerships: Fiberead and Babelcube.

Translation costs? Well, no question translations can get very expensive. Serious money. I know some indies who went that route very early on and still are nowhere near recouping their costs. Paying big money for a translation that you cannot easily distribute or promote in the relevant countries is probably not a good idea.

Which is why I've long advocated the partnership model, where the translator takes on the task with no up-front payment, instead working on the promise of a share of the royalties when that title sells. This gives the translator the incentive not just to do an outstanding job, but also to help promote and market that title in the local language once the job is done.

At which point you'll be asking, "But how do you find even one translator, let alone dozens, willing to work for nothing on your book in the hope they might get paid down the road?"

Time to share the indie world's best kept secret. Translation-aggregators.

There are two key players out there right now: Fiberead and Bablecube 


Fiberead is based in China and will take your English-language book, translate it into Mandarin, format it and provide a cover translation, and make it available in China's many ebook retailers, including the Kindle China store, but also some much bigger players.

Fiberead charge nothing up front and pay you royalties on all sales. I've got five titles live and selling in China right now (some have made the bestseller list) and I will be uploading another half dozen to Fiberead before the year's end. 

Fiberead are also getting my titles into paper in China.


Babelcube  has a different model. They provide a meeting place and a safe-house for authors and translators to pitch their wares and secure deals.

You sign up with a translator (you need to do your homework carefully to be sure they are any good) and upload your work. The translator uploads their version down the road. When both parties are happy, Babelcube will get the book on retail sites around the world and pay both translator and author from the sales.

Again, no up-front costs, although in this instance you need to get your own cover translation.

I've got a number of titles being translated into different languages through Babelcube, and several are already out there and selling.

Babelcube offer ten languages. Fiberead just Chinese. But that gives authors an easy route to get started with eleven languages. 

And another player, Douban, is about to open up to western indies wanting to sell in China. Watch out for an announcement at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

Those who want to explore the translations paths further will find two posts here covering several different translation models. (LINK) and (LINK). Everything from paying for your translations outright to using translator-aggregators to teaming with a traditional publisher.

And for those who'd rather let a publisher do all the hard work, here's a post on how to query foreign-language publishers when you don’t speak their language.

While Babelcube and Fiberead are great, I find it more satisfying still to find my own translation partners, and of course in far more languages than they offer. I love exploring uncharted waters.

By chance I was researching Thor Heyerdahl for my newly-launched travelogue-memoir series West Africa Is My Back Yard. The first of the series is already available in Spanish, will be out in Portuguese and German later this year, and a half dozen more languages sometime in 2016.

Which sounds exciting until you consider Thor Heyerdahl’s flagship book The Kon-Tiki Expedition has been translated into seventy languages.

Well, the new globile world is every bit as uncharted as the waters the Kon-Tiki sailed in, and anything Thor Heyerdahl can do I can do too.

So it's 71 translation languages or bust!


What about you, Scriveners? Have you thought of getting your books translated, but thought it would be too expensive? Have you ever pictured your books making a bestseller list in some far-off country? Do leave questions for Mark in the comments. He's on African time, and sometimes his electricity or Internet go out, but he'll be happy to answer when he can...Anne


Mark Williams, @MarkWilliamsInt  "The International Indie Author" is an ex-pat Brit living in The Gambia, West Africa. He's a novelist, TV scriptwriter, playwright and freelance travel writer. 

He's the author of the international best-selling novels Sugar & Spice and Anca's Story, currently marketed`under the Saffina Desforges brand, and co-author with Saffina of the "Rose Red" crime thriller series. He was the biggest-selling indie author in the UK in 2011 and has since topped the charts in other countries including France and China. 

In 2014 he became the first and so far only indie author to reach number one in Amazon’s Kindle China store. You can read his blog here, and join his FB group "The International Indie Author, Your Guide to Going Global."


Join Mark Williams on the first part of this odyssey through the history, geography, culture and daily life of the country he calls his home - The Gambia and the region he calls his back yard - West Africa.

If you like Bill Bryson's travelogues that leave no stone unturned to share the author's fascination with the world around him, you'll love West Africa Is My Back Yard. 

All proceeds from the series go towards supporting, babies, children, families and schools in The Gambia.


The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. $10 fee Unpublished fiction. 1500 words or less. Simultaneous submissions ARE welcome. All entries will be considered for publication in Fiction Southeast. (a prestigious journal that has published people like Joyce Carol Oates) Winner gets $200 and publication. Deadline: Dec. 1st

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.

The IWSG Short Story Anthology Contest 2015.  NO FEE! The top ten stories will be published in an anthology. (Authors will receive royalties on sales.) Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer's Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member (no fee to join the IWSG). The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free. Word count: 5000-6000. Theme: Alternate History/Parallel Universe. Deadline: November 1st

RROFIHE TROPHY NO-FEE SHORT STORY CONTEST NO ENTRY FEE. For an unpublished short story. Minimum word count 3,500; maximum to 5,000 words. Winner receives $500, trophy, announcement and publication on anderbo.comDeadline October 15.

Glimmer Train Press Family Matters  Prize: $1,500 and publication in Glimmer Train.  Entry fee $18. Stories up to 12,000 words: about families of all configurations. Deadline: September 30.

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest $4,000 in prizes. Entry fee $10 per poem. Submit poems in modern and traditional styles, up to 250 lines each. Deadline: September 30.

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Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

I'm dizzy! Thanks for this very informative and up to date post, Mark. If you had to pick one language translation to start with (perhaps the one with the earliest payback) which would it be?
Thanks again!

September 20, 2015 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Fantastic, super detailed information! Thanks, Mark, for laying out a whole new area of possibilities.
In your opinion, which markets are already thriving and which still have a way to go?

September 20, 2015 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

So many potential readers!
One of my books is being translated into Turkey and I hope my publisher finds more opportunities. Especially one that includes India.

September 20, 2015 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

PS: I forgot to mention that using Mark's approach, the writer will own (or co-own) the translated book. Under the TradPub/agent system, the translator or publisher owns it. Big step forward!

September 20, 2015 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

Anne, as usual, you've provided authors with fabulous information. Thanks a million.

September 20, 2015 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Bon! Bueno! Malo! Excellente! or something like that. We should, indeed, be thinking globile.

September 20, 2015 at 11:19 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

That's a difficult one., Melodie I'd say there are three key focusses right now.

German is the easiest and the most indie-friendly. As well as Kindle Germany , Apple, Google Play, etc there is the ever-growing Tolino group. Indies can get their titles into Tolino through Draft2Digital.

But the German-language market is essentially Germany and Austria. A big market right now, but one that will be eclipsed in the not too distant future.

Spanish provides a far wider reach, and Latin America is one of the big growth regions. But access is not so easy. Spain aside Amazon has only one Spanish-language store - Mexico, and pays only 35% unless you are in Select. But if you are willing to do the extra leg work Spain is a sure-fire winner.

The other key focus right now should be China. As per the main post, Fiberead offer an easy way into China, and Douban will be offering an alternative route in next month.

September 20, 2015 at 11:30 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Germany and China are thriving right now, Ruth, and as next priorities must come the collected Latin American markets (both Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking Brazil).

On my top-priority list are Indonesia, Turkey, Korea and India. What's so exciting in this new, globile world, is that countries like Indonesia and China - big populations, high literacy rates, but no real tradition for reading western books - are suddenly becoming key players because suddenly books are available on smartphones that were and remain impractical to obtain in print.

I rate India, China and Indonesia as the most exciting prospects on the planet right now. In volume terms China is already bigger than the US ebook market, and its barely out of first gear. Indonesia is about to bloom, and India is a lumbering giant slowly finding its feet.

Investing time and energy now in these markets will pay dividends down the road to savvy indie authors playing the long game.

September 20, 2015 at 11:45 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Alex, congrats on getting into Turkey. If you keep an eye on the Frankfurt Book Fair next month you'll find Turkey is one of seven countries identified as key growth areas.

Turkey is one of the less-easy access countries for indies right now (Amazon blocks downloads to Turkey, for example), but a country any internationalist indie should be focussed on. Turkey has a strong literacy-agency tradition and with a little work a savvy indie can find routes in to this exciting country.

September 20, 2015 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Shipwreck_Light said...

Ironically enough, your Latin is incorrect.

September 20, 2015 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Phyllis--I was so pleased that Mark agreed to guest for us today. He's a wealth of information!

September 20, 2015 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--I think so too. Even though I'm not a fan of the ubiquitous and tyrannical cell phone, as reading devices they are opening great markets for all of us who write.

September 20, 2015 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Shipwreck--As the daughter of a Yale professor of Classics, I was forced to take many more years of Latin than I wanted to. Even so, I've managed to push all my knowledge of the Ablative, Dative and Accusative into inaccessible reaches of my memory banks.

I think Mark makes his point well, even if "Unum" is Accusative instead of Dative or whatever. I'm very grateful to him for sharing all this knowledge. If that ruins his chances of being translated into Classical Latin, he'll have to cross the Vatican off his list of places to sell his books. :-)

September 20, 2015 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Absolutely amazing amount of information. After our week at the Central Coast Writer's Conference, my head is spinning but I'm definitely bookmarking this wonderful post. Thank you, Mark and Anne. Sharing this for sure. Paul

September 20, 2015 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

Thanks, Mark! Another interesting thing would be which genres do well in what markets. My (English language) fantasy series does quite well in Germany. I expect a German translation would be the way to go.
Thanks again!

September 20, 2015 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Jan M. Leotti said...

Thanks so much, Mark, for an enlightening and informative post! I'm not quite there yet, but will keep this in my files for when I'm ready (who knows what else will be available then!?). It's so exciting to be a writer now with so much at our fingertips. Many thanks, Anne (and Ruth) for sharing all of this info with us on this wonderful blog.

September 20, 2015 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Wendy Dewar Hughes said...

It's too much to take in at once but it is nice to know that someone takes the time to gather all this information in one place.

September 20, 2015 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

What can anyone say about Mark? There are two kinds of indies- those that have met him and those that need to. And now on Anne's blog, it's a double-dose of imperative reading. Preach it, Mark, I think you're dead on and translation is definitely part of my thirty-year plan for fame. Somewhere.
The actual first use of that Latin phrase was of course the Romans, who used bundled rods as the symbol of the republic's power, coming from each citizen. Individual sticks could be broken, but the fasces bundle of rods (used to be on the back of the penny), not so much. We of the indie-public need to band together like that too, but probably five more years for that. Meanwhile, E Unum Pluribus is a fantastic phrase, grammar or not. Thanks for all you do.

September 20, 2015 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

This is a wonderful post, Anne. I read one about two months ago about Fibreread and Babelcube and immediately sent an e-mail to both of them. Fibreread told me they were booked solid and put me on a wait list and I've never heard anything since. I got into Babelcube and because they only let you request one translator at a time, I found most translators weren't working for them any longer and several others said they were fully booked and couldn't help me. I gave up for awhile, but your post prompts me to get back to both of them and start looking again.

September 20, 2015 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Rosalyn said...

This was fascinating to me to read, even though I'm not indie published (yet). My agent got north-American rights for my debut, so I am hoping to see some foreign sales. This has given me some great ideas of questions I should be asking. Thank you!

September 20, 2015 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Tina Davidson said...

Hi, Mark. Thanks for your insights on the "globile" market. I guess I need to get with the times and upgrade to a smart phone. For those of you in San Luis Obispo County that live in rural areas and you don't want to wait until the Google Loon arrives, I recommend Ranch Wifi. It is considered "Wireless Broadband for the Rural Fringe" and it supports the local guy. Happy connecting!

September 20, 2015 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger Ricardo Fayet said...

One of the best posts I've read so far on translation and global markets for authors. I still feel there's no good curated marketplace for translators — I've had good and back feedbacks from Babelcube, which means they don't filter translators as well as they should (not an easy job, btw).
I heard that Amazon was working on building something like this (based on the ACX royalty-share model, but for translators), but every time I try to confirm it with an Amazon representative, I get a "no, no, not that I've heard of". So, shhhh on that one! And in any case, that's definitely in our plans for Reedsy.com, but in a year or so ;)

September 21, 2015 at 2:45 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Studying the Top 100 charts in the various Kindle stores can be very instructive, Melodie. What sells well on Amazon is likely to do well on other retailers in that country too.

For any romance writers out there they might want to focus on India. India is one of the world's biggest markets for English-language romance.

I'm working on some genre-based studies of the key international markets and hope to have the results live on my blog and on The International Indie Author Facebook page later this year.

September 21, 2015 at 2:53 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

It's great to be here again, Anne. Phyllis, one of the best things about Anne's blog is that it covers such a wide range of industry topics and somehow manages to remain relevant for those just starting out on their writing careers and also for those that have been around the block a few times.

September 21, 2015 at 2:59 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

CS, merci, gracias, etc! :-)

September 21, 2015 at 3:02 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Shipwreck, my Latin may leave a little to be desired, but we need to move with the times. Living languages change and evolve.

BTW, blame Jack Reacher's brother Joe for any grammatical errors. It was Joe, in Lee Child's debut novel The Killing Floor, that introduced me to the idea of E Unum Pluribus.

September 21, 2015 at 3:09 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Thanks, Paul. Hope you enjoyed the Conference!

September 21, 2015 at 3:10 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

It is a lot to take in, Wendy, and so much more I had to leave out!

September 21, 2015 at 3:25 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Thanks for the kind words, Will. And the history lesson!

It would be lovely to see the indie world united, but somehow I think we'll still be just as divided in five years time. That's life...

September 21, 2015 at 3:30 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Patricia, a lesson in getting in early! :-)

This time last year Fiberead were struggling to find interest among western indies. No-one wanted to know about foreign markets. Then my book hit number one on Kindle China and they've been inundated with interest ever since.

Babelcube likewise is getting busier and busier. But I'm still picking up new translators on Babelcube every week (two in the past three days!).

It's really a matter of being on there with as many titles as possible, hoping some will capture the interest of a translator, and at the same time working the system and pitching to translators direct.

There are some great translators on Babelcube, if you can track them down, and of course if your book is of interest to them.

But persevere and it will pay off.

September 21, 2015 at 3:40 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Good luck with that, Rosalyn. Sometimes agents need a nudge with the foreign markets, and if the author can point them in the right direct, all the better. And where the agent isn't able or willing to pursue foreign-language deals (it may well be beyond their experience or connections) it's worth coming to an agreement with the agent to deal with foreign rights yourself and leave the agent to handle what they are comfortable with and knowledgeable about.

September 21, 2015 at 3:44 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Tina, I always find it fascinating that my internet coverage here in The Gambia in West Africa, one of the poorest nations on the planet, is in places better than in the richest country on the planet.

Five years ago I could only connect to the internet by travelling to a tourist hotel and paying a small fortune for an hour of dial-up speed connection. Now I have a 4G connection here in my mud hut, and it would be hard to find anyone here that doesn't have smartphone. It's a crazy world!

September 21, 2015 at 3:50 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Ricardo, if Reedsy can pull it off it would be a major contribution to the publishing world!

It would be great if Amazon would introduce a translator exchange, but given their limited international focus it would almost certainly only be for the Kindle countries.

Fiberead have plans to introduce more languages, but as they are based in China and have limited resources I'm not expecting too much too soon from them.

Babelcube are limited in their ambitions, it seems, with just ten languages and no clear plans to introduce more.

I would love to see a rival to Babelcube emerge offering translations in the languages of India and south-east Asia, which are the key growth areas for the next few years.

With the globile markets about to bloom I would imagine there are a number of operators looking at the possibilities, and it wouldn't surprise me if a player from China, India or Indonesia stepped forward to do the job.

As Fiberead clearly show - they get my Chinese translations into more stores globally than I can get my English-language versions into! - in the new globile world it doesn't matter whether you are based in the USA, China or some tiny island in the Pacific.

The traffic is two way and new start-ups in the east will soon emerge to fill the niches the big western players can't be bothered with.

September 21, 2015 at 4:08 AM  
Blogger Destination Infinity said...

Thanks for letting us know about the two translation services and their business models, but this article could've been at least 80% shorter than what it is now.

September 21, 2015 at 8:08 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

At least 80% shorter, Destination Infinity? That wouldn't leave much room for facts. The point was not to advertise the translation services but to put the translation services in global context and make clear how much the industry has changed in a few short years. .

September 21, 2015 at 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

As always Mark, you are a wealth of information. This was so well laid out making impossible to ignore this market---if you want to reach as many readers as possible. And you don't need the big bucks to do it! Thanks Mark.

September 21, 2015 at 8:57 AM  
Anonymous mark williams said...

Thanks, Lauren!

September 21, 2015 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jan--You are welcome. I was so pleased Mark could take over the blog while I was at the Central Coast Writer's Conference this weekend.

This is definitely a post to bookmark for future reference!

September 21, 2015 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tina--Thanks for the recommendation of Ranch WiFi. I didn't know about it and I live right here in SLO County. I always like to "shop local". And I don't have a smart phone either. I love my stupid phone. It makes phone calls!!

September 21, 2015 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Benny Rotondi-Smith said...

This has very helpful information. I'm a writer who also has learnt many languages including French, Spanish and Mandarin. As someone who enjoys travelling as well as languages, this topic is definitely relevant!

September 21, 2015 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Lisa Gillis said...

Great post, very informative as always. Thanks Mark Williams and Anne R. Allen!

September 22, 2015 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Laura Taylor said...

As has been stated several times, Mark Williams is a voice of reason and a veritable font of information for the "globile" market. And, as always, much appreciated, Mark! :) LT

September 22, 2015 at 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Karrie said...

Thank you for the insights and experience shared. One question, have you done other type of translation partnerships such as 50/50 with translator marketing the book in their language? I've seen a couple of authors do that. But my question is what happens if your books goes wild in sales and becomes a huge best seller (a la 50 shades, Hunger Games, etc)? are you willing to split 50% profit with your translator?

October 3, 2015 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Benny--Congratulations on learning so many languages! You may have a future as a translator.

October 3, 2015 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Lisa--I was so glad Mark agreed to guest post for us. He has a very busy schedule as you can imagine.

October 3, 2015 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Laura--I agree that Mark is a voice of reason and a major help to indie authors who want to take their career to the next level.

And BTW, Happy Birthday!

October 3, 2015 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Karrie--I'll have to bring this comment to Mark's attention, but I think the Babelcube model does involve the translator doing the marketing in his/her country. I know the 50/50 split stays, no matter how high the sales volume. The translators are counting on that--taking a gamble that one of their books will hit the big time in their home country.

October 3, 2015 at 1:38 PM  

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