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How do you get in touch with translation copyright holders for book translations?
Thread poster: yue dong

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:06
Member (2017)
French to English
+ ...
Foreign rights Nov 5, 2018

U.S. publishers usually have an email address on their website for foreign rights, on the contact page under "foreign rights." I would suggest that as a first step. That said, publishers are looking to sell rights to foreign markets, not to translators... These rights include the translation and publication of the book in a specific market, in your case China. So obviously, such deals are made between publishers. You could try contacting a Chinese publisher and asking them if they ever considere... See more
U.S. publishers usually have an email address on their website for foreign rights, on the contact page under "foreign rights." I would suggest that as a first step. That said, publishers are looking to sell rights to foreign markets, not to translators... These rights include the translation and publication of the book in a specific market, in your case China. So obviously, such deals are made between publishers. You could try contacting a Chinese publisher and asking them if they ever considered such or such book, i.e. you could try pitching the project to them. But that could be tough if you don't know what you're doing; you would need a whole marketing angle, sales projections, etc.

Now, if this is a book that's been out for a while and it's clear that no Chinese publisher is ever going to buy the rights, you could try to get the author interested in ceding the rights to you. You could translate it as a passion project and then pitch it to Chinese publishers or even publish it yourself, with a percentage of any sales going to the author.

But as mentioned above, that could get pricey. Passion projects do sometimes work out though.



[Edited at 2018-11-05 15:25 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-11-05 15:28 GMT]
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Eliza Hall
yue dong
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 02:06
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Who are you talking to? Nov 5, 2018

Chris S wrote:

It is possible to disagree with people without becoming aggressive and offensive!

Not when the first thing they say is "Omg no" and proceeds to try to assert their alpha mentality by waving their lawyer title in people's faces.

I don't claim to be an expert in anything, but I've been there, done that, and I say with confidence that if the OP wanted a particular book published, if my way doesn't work, nothing will.

And any other way either:
1. Has a very low chance of success, or;
2. Eventually leads them back to my way when the publisher's rights person inevitably tells them that they do not entertain discussions with individuals and that they need to find a local publisher.

[Edited at 2018-11-05 17:50 GMT]


 

Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:06
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Great thread - thanks! Nov 6, 2018

With all the different approaches displayed, I find that this thread managed to convey more information on the subject than most I ever read earlier. Thank you all!

 

yue dong  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:06
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
wow Nov 6, 2018

Seriously, girls/guys, you are awesome! I wrote this threat just to complain how badly I wanted to do some great translations(not that how great I am) and how hard it is to work alone without an agent. When I checked the translations in Chinese book market, I feel so disappointed. Great books have been poorly translated, while some inspiring works have not been translated at all. Especially children's book, as I am a mom who reads with my kids. Believe me, I tried to contact the publishers and t... See more
Seriously, girls/guys, you are awesome! I wrote this threat just to complain how badly I wanted to do some great translations(not that how great I am) and how hard it is to work alone without an agent. When I checked the translations in Chinese book market, I feel so disappointed. Great books have been poorly translated, while some inspiring works have not been translated at all. Especially children's book, as I am a mom who reads with my kids. Believe me, I tried to contact the publishers and the authors, but no one fancied writing me back. And I also got connected with a Chinese agency and once I told her the name of the book, she just disappeared. I understand they have cheaper source back in China. But the thing is, the cheaper translators have a little understanding of the life outside their country, and it's very easy to figure that out from the published translations. I don't know. I love literature, and I know it takes time and vision to finish a translation work, which is against the fast-food trend. Sigh.
Thank you so much, everyone, for so much useful and helpful input for my kind of naïve question. I will try your suggestions and meanwhile equip myself with the knowledge and support from you, my peers! And good luck to you, too.
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Eliza Hall
United States
Local time: 14:06
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
An idea? Nov 6, 2018

Yue, I wonder if you could find a publisher in Canada who might be interested in publishing a Chinese translation for the North American market (i.e. for all the Chinese families up and down the coasts of Canada and the US, and for elementary schools with a Mandarin program, and so forth). It wouldn't be a big market, but it exists, it has money, and it probably doesn't have enough children's books!

If this idea sounds interesting, maybe see if there's a Canadian or US publisher tha
... See more
Yue, I wonder if you could find a publisher in Canada who might be interested in publishing a Chinese translation for the North American market (i.e. for all the Chinese families up and down the coasts of Canada and the US, and for elementary schools with a Mandarin program, and so forth). It wouldn't be a big market, but it exists, it has money, and it probably doesn't have enough children's books!

If this idea sounds interesting, maybe see if there's a Canadian or US publisher that has an imprint or division that publishes Chinese-language books, or children's books in foreign languages. A children's book wouldn't take long to translate, so you could reach out to such a publisher with your own book proposal, attaching your translation and the original English-language book. Explain it as you have here: that you've noticed translations done in China are low-quality, in part because the translators there don't have enough familiarity with life in North America to really understand what they're translating. And you are the solution to that problem!

If you can get a North American publisher interested, they would know exactly how to get the rights.

[Edited at 2018-11-06 17:23 GMT]
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yue dong
 

yue dong  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:06
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
though sounds rough, it's true. Nov 6, 2018

Lincoln Hui wrote:

First: Ignore all advice on this topic given to you on a professional level. You are not doing this as a professional (in the getting-paid sense of the word). If you really want to see a book translated, you pay to get the copyright and you pay to get it published. If you aren't willing to fork up the money, you don't want to do it badly enough.

The way this goes is that you find a publisher in whatever location you want to publish the translation that provides a self-publishing service, because copyright holders and agencies that deal in copyright don't want to deal with individuals, and no publisher is going to put their own money on the line for this. Any self-respecting publisher will know how to negotiate copyright and they will do everything for you once you have a self-publishing memorandum of agreement with them.

The bill is one month's worth of a well-established translator's income. You make about half of that back if you sell your entire print run.

Do not bother contacting the original publisher or the author. Go through a legitimate publisher and present a bona fide offer, otherwise you're not worth the effort of replying to.

[Edited at 2018-11-01 19:21 GMT]


You are right, I am not a professional in the getting-paid sense of the word, for many of my translations are for TWB which is not paid. I do interpretation for a living but translation is always my passion.
It seems in Chinese market, the way you mentioned is true, I just don't know if I will pay for the publishing(I got your point here;)). Thank you for pointing it out that it is a business after all.


 

yue dong  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:06
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
exactly Nov 6, 2018

Eliza Hall wrote:

yue dong wrote:

I have been struggling with this issue for a while. When I find a great English book, I constantly think about having it translated into my mother tongue-Chinese. However the copyright is always the obstacle along the road. It seems impossible for an individual to come in contact with the author or the publisher. And I have no way of getting to the translation copyright agency. Once I finally talked to someone from an agency and asking about this. The lady got the book's info and disappeared. I understand that they have their own translators, so.
Well, what should I do? Is there any advices?



You're going about it the wrong way. You're a translator -- you would be hired by a Chinese publisher who's interested in publishing a translation of a certain book. You would not normally buy translation rights yourself and then shop them around to Chinese publishers to see if anyone wants you to translate it. What you want to be doing is cultivating relationships with publishers who publish Chinese editions of English-language books (I assume you're talking about English-language ones), and gaining experience and improving your reputation as a translator.

If that were the proper way to go about it, then you would simply contact the publisher. It's not impossible at all; their name and city should be printed on the book, possibly even their contact info, and you can check their most current contact info via the web. If it's hard to get in touch with them it may be because they are used to being contacted by foreign publishers, not by translators. And as for authors, you can typically contact them through their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds -- these days most living authors, at least in the US or UK, have one.



[Edited at 2018-11-01 18:50 GMT]

Right, I think what I would do now is to send more sample translations to publishers to get their attention, as you point out. And hopeful they will like my work and let me in their business. I will try the Facebook, too. Thank you so much


 

yue dong  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:06
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
a good one Nov 6, 2018

Eliza Hall wrote:

Yue, I wonder if you could find a publisher in Canada who might be interested in publishing a Chinese translation for the North American market (i.e. for all the Chinese families up and down the coasts of Canada and the US, and for elementary schools with a Mandarin program, and so forth). It wouldn't be a big market, but it exists, it has money, and it probably doesn't have enough children's books!

If this idea sounds interesting, maybe see if there's a Canadian or US publisher that has an imprint or division that publishes Chinese-language books, or children's books in foreign languages. A children's book wouldn't take long to translate, so you could reach out to such a publisher with your own book proposal, attaching your translation and the original English-language book. Explain it as you have here: that you've noticed translations done in China are low-quality, in part because the translators there don't have enough familiarity with life in North America to really understand what they're translating. And you are the solution to that problem!

If you can get a North American publisher interested, they would know exactly how to get the rights.

[Edited at 2018-11-06 17:23 GMT]


Yes, it's definitely worth of trying. thank you.


 
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