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Can You Translate A Book And Sell It?

Can You Translate A Book And Sell It?
(Last Updated On: May 13, 2022)

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 in achieving a greater good more than just living your passion. For example, you can share knowledge with your associates, friends, teachers, and just about anyone who need your insight on a linguistic subject matter or reviewing literature. And who knows you could write your own 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? Well, 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 that you shouldn’t miss on 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 certain book, he is the one who’ll be handling the copyrights issues and vice versa. Of course, just to be on the safe side, 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 too.

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

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

    As long as you are planning on translating a book for yourself, you will not need permission. But if you plan to publish the translation and share it with others, then you will have to get permission from the publisher first. In order to avoid legal troubles, you should obtain permission from the copyright owner if you want to translate a book.

  • Can I translate a book?

    If you are a qualified and experienced literary translator then you can translate a book. However, you will need to get in touch with the copyright owner to get their permission before you make the translation of their book public. And if you are not a linguistic expert then 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 are hiring a firm or a freelancer. Famous firms can charge up to $0.17 per word. But if you do your research, you can find good companies that charge somewhere between $0.08 to $0.12 per word for the translation of 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 qualification 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 and you like it so much that you end up thinking about translating it for your native audience. For that purpose, you’ll first have to contact the author of the book. Since the author is the copyright’s 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’ll have to contact him or her. You’ll have to negotiate the terms and if after discussion, you arrive at an agreement that’s acceptable for you both, you can go for it.

Last but not the least, if you have written a book yourself and you 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 prior works of the author. 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 for which you are intending to right for, are looking for a translated version or not. 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 clearly written down on a sheet and the results must be analyzed before taking the next steps. You can’t just work on a book without reassuring that it’s worth your time and effort. Also, going on such an adventure blindly isn’t a thing you should do as a commercial translator, as it can affect your reputation deeply.

The Skill

The most crucial aspect of interpreting any literature is the skill that it requires on the translator’s part. Literary works require a certain kind of intellect to understand them, yet writing them is a totally different genre. You have to be creative while keeping the essence of originality in the interpreted version. You are allowed to be creative with words but you are definitely 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

Bottom line is, you can translate a book and sell it. But you have meet the criteria mentioned above. You must also realize that an intellectual property is very precious to its owner and stealing it can hurt someone in the similar manner as that of a material belonging, or maybe more.

And if you are looking for someone to translate a book, text or an article, just contact us, and we’ll link you up with our most creative professionals right away. 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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