How to Self-Publish in France
“Since 2011, more books have been translated in France than in any other country. In fact, one out of every six books in France has been translated from a foreign language. Among these works, three out of five books were translated from English. Here’s how to win over new readers in this booming market.
Find a Translator
This is undoubtedly the most important step in foreign publication, and it mustn’t be taken lightly. You are going to be entrusting your text, your creation, to someone who will then interpret it for your future readers. The translator has to capture your style and reproduce it as faithfully as possible in your target language. It’s often said that ‘to translate is to betray,’ but it is possible to find the appropriate voice. In searching for a translator, you have several options.
Translation agencies are generally expensive because they take a significant margin of the profits. They primarily specialize in business, technical or legal translation. There are also many websites that will help you get in direct contact with translators.
Here are a few criteria to take into consideration when making a decision.
If you’re publishing in France, your translator’s first language should be French, but it’s worth noting there are some differences between the dialect of French spoken in France, Belgium, Switzerland and, in particular, Quebec. These are typically subtle differences that don’t impede understanding, but when it comes to dialogue, slang and cultural variations, these differences become extremely important.
It’s also important to consider the translator’s specialization. Your translator should have prior experience in literary translation. Ask for references and a list of their previously translated works.
The Association des Traducteurs Littéraires de France (Literary Translators Association of France) suggests a rate of 0.06 € to 0.08 € ($0.07 to $0.09) per word. When receiving quotes, I suggest asking for a rate per word. This will be the most precise manner of estimating cost (rather than pages), and it should include your work’s back cover copy. With that being said, prices will certainly vary. Translating a collection of poetry will be significantly more expensive than translating a children’s book.
Translators offering very low rates are often suspect. Nevertheless, you mustn’t base your decision solely on the translator’s rates and references. This is where a test translation comes into play, explained later.
If you want to experiment with translation but lack sufficient funds to do so, there are also sites which connect translators and authors under a contract where the translator receives a share of the translation’s royalties. Babelcube is an example of such a site. The major advantage of such a contract is that it’s free. The downside is that you have to surrender a share of your royalties with no guarantee of return. Furthermore, the quality of the translation can be very unpredictable.”