How Can You Translate Your Book Into Multiple Languages?

Pepper Content
July 3rd, 2020

Authors today cannot ignore the lure and importance of breaking into the international market with their books. More than gaining an audience in different countries, this means gaining an audience in different languages. This is only possible through translation, especially when the book in question is written in English.

Book Translation


As such certified translation services are more in demand now than ever before in the media and publishing sector. Extensive research and data show that the UK and USA make up roughly only about one thirds of the world’s ebook audience and market. The remaining two thirds is split between a variety of languages such as Mandarin, Italian, Spanish, French, German and more.

There is no doubt that having your book available in several languages gives you a boost in income, publicity and creates a larger audience base. However, getting a book translated into just one other language, let alone several, involves a lot of time, resources and money.

So is it always a good idea to get your book translated? And how do you decide whether it’s the right choice for you? A good rule of thumb to go by is, if this is your first book, or if you’re self-publishing and do not have a lot of funds available, it may be a good idea to wait a while before attempting to get your book translated.

This is because you first need to understand the basics of book writing and marketing yourself, as well as build up a strong audience base in your original language, before attempting to break into other markets and languages. This will help you identify any weak points and fix them before you invest in translating. Translation usually works well for authors who are already strongly established in their source language and have built up a good audience. It also depends on the source and target language in particular, and the genre of the book. Some genres and content is easier to translate, whereas others can be very complex, and full of metaphors and other nuances.

When authors work with big publishing giants such as Hachette, Penguin, Bloomsbury and more, they often have their own teams of in-house translators, or partner with agencies which provide certified translation services. If you have the budget and time to spare, you can definitely work with a specialized agency and get your book translated into multiple languages.

The advantage of these agencies is that they usually provide multiple language specialists at the same time, so you do not need to find individual freelancers for every language. Your book will thus get translated simultaneously into several different languages, and save a lot of time.

However, in recent years, there has been a steady rise in the number of self and indie publishing. These kinds of publishing often operate on a very modest budget, and cannot afford expensive freelance translators, nor can they always employ specialized agencies.

If you choose to self-publish and believe that your book is suitable and ready for translation, there are several other ways to get your book translated for a very reasonable price. This is all while making sure that the quality is not compromised as well. Below are some of the most effective ways you can obtain certified translation services for your book.

  1. Hire a freelancer through a job posting site

    Unlike most specialized agencies, job posting boards and sites such as FlexJobs, Fiverr and Upwork, often have highly skilled freelancers who work at very reasonable rates and can be an affordable option for self-publishers. Most of them may also be native speakers of the source language, with a lot of project experience, which would ensure a high-quality standard. These job sites also ensure that deadlines are strictly adhered to by the freelancers, which would save you a lot of time and money while looking for certified translation services.

  2. Hire a university student of media and communication, preferably a native speaker

    This is one of the more unorthodox methods of getting your book translated, but it can work out very well, provided you choose the right person. For example, if you want to translate your book from English to Spanish, you can choose a native Spanish speaking student, who is already studying media, literature, mass communication or publishing. This will ensure that they not only know the target language perfectly well, and are able to understand its subtleties and nuances, but are also familiar with the book publishing, marketing and translation field in general. Hence, they will work in a way so as to bring out the best of your book to appeal to the Spanish speaking audience. This will also be much cheaper than hiring a more experienced professional translator. Although in some cases you may have to get the final copy further refined and edited, this will significantly reduce the bulk of the work as well as keep costs down. You can repeat the same process with multiple native speakers of different languages.

  3. Use auto-translate and supplement it with a human editor

    Freelance translators and editors often charge based on the number of words, type of work, type of content and length of content. Thus, they will charge much more if required to completely translate an entire book, rather than just editing the final copy. Therefore, in order to save costs, you can use auto-translate the bulk of your work, and only use a professional human editor or translator to edit and refine the final copy. This will also save you a lot of time, while still providing you with certified translation services. Keep in mind, however, that the auto-translation service you use must be of the highest quality possible to save you multiple reworks and errors.

  4. Sell the rights of your books to various publishers to appeal to a wider market

    Self-publishing authors who can prove that there is already a strong foreign interest in their book can also sell the rights of their books to several foreign publishers and book marketeers. In this way, it becomes the publisher’s responsibility to get the book translated, without any further investment from the author. However, this is a longer process and may not always work out for every author. It also depends on several factors, such as the genre, author, audience base, and whether this is the first time they are self-publishing or not.

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