"I'm Big in Japan"***

Dear Miss Snark,

How does one go about proposing a translation?

There is a very popular series of fantasy books in Japan that have sold millions of copies, but no English translation has yet been made. Does a translator include what publishing data may be had from the book and the Internet along with the submission and query letter? Is there any other information, such as the original author's biography or a list of the other books in the series?

You've got the cart in front of the horse.

Translations are arranged by the publisher who buys the foreign language rights (in this case English is the foreign language).

The publisher or author of these popular fantasy books has a foreign rights agent. That agent shops those books to American publishers of fantasy. The American publisher acquires the rights, and hires the translator.

I attended a very instructive presentation on literature in translation about two years ago, and one of the things mentioned was how hard it was to find good translators at reasonable rates. If you're really serious about making this happen, contact the Japanese publisher, or their foreign rights agents and offer to do a translation on spec.

If you approach a US publisher or agent without owning the rights to the work, you will be treated like a crackpot.



Anonymous said...

Seems pretty common sense to me: You can't sell what you don't own.

Thanks for spreading the word in your own snarktastic fashion.

writtenwyrdd said...

A friend of mine is heavily into Esperanto, and the other day she mentioned that someone in the Esperanto world decided to translate "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" into Esperanto. THEN they tried to get it in print.

Hmmm... Even I could see this wasn't the right approach. Of COURSE the publisher said NO in resounding tones.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding poem for a simple mind like mine. I love it! -JTC

Elektra said...

Actually, the Latin translator for the Harry Potter series just E-mailed Bloomsbury and said something like, "I think it'd be fun; here are my credentials. call me." And they did.

-c- said...

Tom Waits!

We all could be the next Eyeball Kid.

aovdq said...

Tom Waits is awesome; I saw him in concert two weeks ago, and the fact that Miss Snark shares a little bit of love for Tom makes me feel all mushy inside.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to get good translators for a reasonable price? That explains the many crappy translations out there.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Tom Waits. Thanks for the link, Miss Snark. very apropos.

Miss Snark said...

Bloomsbury is the UK publisher for Harry Potter. They have the rights to it, thus, can contract with some suave Latin speaker to render Harry into Hic Haec Hoc.

Veni, Vidi, Vicodan

I came
I saw
Such a pain it was!

Elektra said...

I wonder why they didn't go for the Esperanto? It's been translated into just about every other unused (relatively) language out there...

100 word minimum said...

The rate of pay for literary translation is notoriously bad. When translators get together, we often say, "I'd love to do literary translation, except that I'd also like to buy food!"

The Snarkling might try contacting Vertical to see if they'd be interested.

hcduvall said...

The market for an esperanto translation, even when compared to a Latin translation (which could an educational route) is vanishingly small. And even then, the Latin, Welsh, and Gaelic versions didn't go beyond the first volume in the series...the latter two languages, and even some of the more successful translations, might've had governmental/cultural aid to encourage said translations as well.