Can You Translate A Book And Sell It?

Can You Translate A Book And Sell It?
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Can You Translate A Book And Sell It?

If you are a translator and a book lover, chances are, you must be one hell of a reader. This is, without a doubt, a quality that can help you achieve a greater good than just living your passion. For example, you can share knowledge with your associates, friends, teachers, and anyone needing insight on a linguistic subject matter or literature review. And who knows, you could write your book someday and become a best-selling author.

Another aspect of being good at both skills is that you can interpret literature professionally. But can you translate a book and sell it? That’s the bigger question, and we are here to answer it. If you are considering a career in language services or literary works, this article is something you shouldn’t miss at any cost.

Permission To Translate A Book; When Do You Need It?

If you are a commercial translator and have been contacted by a publisher to translate a particular book, he is the one who’ll be handling the copyrights issues and vice versa. Of course, just to be safe, you should always read the contract and ensure that there are no legal implications whatsoever. He can publish your name as the translator, but the publisher will have the rights to sell it, and you’ll only be paid a certain amount of profit or a prepaid amount as agreed and signed upon in a contract between you.

You don’t need permission to translate a work in the public domain. Any piece of text or literature written before the origin of the copyright laws, or the one whose copyright has expired, is considered the works in the public domain. And whether they are books, texts, online journals, articles or any other information, you can translate them without permission.

translate a book
  • Do I need permission to translate a book?

    You will not need permission to translate a book. But if you plan to publish the translation and share it with others, you must get permission from the publisher first. To avoid legal troubles, you should obtain permission from the copyright owner to translate a book.

  • Can I translate a book?

    If you are a qualified and experienced literary translator, you can translate a book. However, you must contact the copyright owner for permission before publishing their book publicly. And if you are not a linguistic expert, you cannot translate a book.

  • How much does it cost to translate a book?

    The translation cost of a book will depend on the number of words, the difficulty of the language, and the target language. It will also depend on whether you hire a firm or a freelancer. Famous firms can charge up to $0.17 per word. But if you research, you can find good companies that charge between $0.08 to $0.12 per word for translating a book.

  • Can you make money translating books?

    You can make a lot of money by translating books. Not only will you get paid for the translation, but you might also be able to get recurring royalties. However, you can’t get to that point until you get the necessary qualifications and practice extensively first. Only after becoming a professional literary translator can you start making money.

translate a book

Things are different when you read a book. You like it so much that you consider translating it for your native audience. You’ll first have to contact the book’s author for that purpose. Since the author is the copyright holder for his book, you can’t translate a book without his permission and even a written agreement. If a book’s rights belong to the publisher, you must contact him or her. You’ll have to negotiate the terms, and if you arrive at an acceptable agreement for you both after discussion, you can go for it.

Last but not least, if you have written a book and want to translate it into another language and sell it, you can do that unless you have already sold your copyrights to your publisher, in which case you’ll have to do things differently.

How Can I Sell The Translated Version Effectively?

Without research, you can’t do that. A book’s success prediction is based on its prior versions or the author’s prior works. But in the case of a translation, the original version’s success isn’t the only determinant.

First of all, you must research whether the audience you intend to write is looking for a translated version. If so, how many are there? Are they willing to spend money on it? Moreover, what’s the utility of the book? Is it for people who belong to a specific profession? If so, how much would they benefit from it or more importantly, will they be willing to spend money and time on it?

Questions like these and many others must be written down on a sheet, and the results must be analyzed before taking the following steps. You can’t just work on a book without reassuring that it’s worth your time and effort. Also, blindly going on such an adventure isn’t something you should do as a commercial translator, as it can affect your reputation profoundly.

The Skill

The most crucial aspect of interpreting any literature is the skill it requires on the translator’s part. Literary works need a particular intellect to understand them, yet writing them is a different genre. You must be creative while keeping the essence of originality in the interpreted version. You are allowed to be creative with words, but you are not the one who can alter the course of the narrative, as the book was written by someone else with an approach only he could fathom.

Final Word

The bottom line is you can translate a book and sell it. But you have to meet the criteria mentioned above. You must also realize that intellectual property is precious to its owner, and stealing it can hurt someone similarly to that of a material belonging, or maybe more.

And if you are looking for someone to translate a book, text or article, contact us, and we’ll link you up with our most creative professionals immediately. Just don’t forget to tell your friends and co-workers about our unparalleled services.

If we can help you with any questions, please feel free to contact us


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