How to get your ebooks translated into 9 different languages for free

I’m a pretty devoted fan of the Sell More Books Show, so every Wednesday I brew up a cup of coffee and listen to their latest podcast, all the while taking notes on how to sell more books.

Last week’s show, episode #45, has proved quite useful thus far, with their link to 21 free resources for authors. I discovered the Babelcube website (#2 on the list), which offers authors a chance to have their books translated into foreign languages for free.

Yes, you read that right: free translations! Seriously, how cool is that?

I put my book, Confessions of a 3-Day Novelist, up on the site last Wednesday (February 11), and by this Monday I had a complete Spanish translation ready to roll. My translator, Denise Tarud, provided the text in Chilean Spanish, and then I got my original cover updated by my designer at PixelStudio. Here’s what it looks like en español:

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After the cover was done, I was ready to submit the files to Babelcube, who distributes the translated book to all the major ebooksellers. I just pulled the trigger on that today, so now all I have to do is wait to see them start popping up at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Page Foundry, 3M, Baker & Taylor, Follet, Overdrive, Gardners and Chegg!

Overall, I’m impressed with the Babelcube setup. The process of adding your books is quite simple, as is the hiring process. Once a potential translator approaches you, you can read their profiles, check out their credentials, and decide whether or not to hire them for the job. They then have 5 days to submit the first 10 pages of the project, where you get a chance to accept or reject the work, and you also have another chance to accept or reject once the final version is completed.

Babelcube holds the distribution rights to the translations for 5 years, and you can choose to renew for an additional year thereafter.

Both the original author and the translator receive royalties from the book’s sales, with an interesting twist. In the contract, it states that the author receives 33% of the royalties for sales up to $2,000, whereas the translator receives 55%. This turns back to the author’s favor as sales increase, with a 45/40% royalty split (author/translator) from $2-5,000, 65/20% royalty from $5-8,000, and 75/10% royalty for sales of $8,000 and up.

Babelcube holds your payments until a threshold of $50 is reached, and all payments are made via Paypal.

All in all, I found the contract quite fair, especially given that I know of no other service currently available that can match their translation prices (i.e. free!). I like the way that the author and translator are in it together, with both required to do some marketing in order to help boost sales and accrue royalty payments. I also think it’s quite fair that the translator makes the lion’s share of royalties to start with, given that they’ve completed the upfront work for free.

Finally, I also love the fact that the site currently offers the following 10 languages for your translations:

  • Afrikaans
  • Dutch
  • English (yes, you can even take your book from another language into English!)
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Norwegian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish

I’d love to see Russian and Chinese translations eventually added to the list as well, but for now that’s a great start. I’ve already got a second book headed to translation into Italian (Montreal from A to Z), and have an offer on the table from a second Spanish translator looking to take on the same title.

Now that’s a productive week’s work!

What about you? Have you ever tried translating any of your work into other languages? What was the process like, and what company or translator’s services did you use?

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