How can you know if your translation is crap?

 In Tips & Tricks


Deciding to get your book translated is a great idea. Readers not speaking your language may very well like to buy your book! The problem: how do you know if the translation is good if you don’t speak the language it’s translated into?

tips-tricks-roundYour book, even though put in another language, needs to be the same book. The composition not only needs to be flawless (at least as flawless as your original text), the tone also needs to stay true to yours and, in some cases, some references and phrasing need to be adapted to the local audience. If you don’t feel comfortable translating the book yourself but still know the language, you may be able to judge all this yourself. However, what happens if it’s a language you don’t master at all, or maybe even haven’t heard ever?

The best solution: find someone who does know that language and ask them. If you don’t have anyone in your circles that can read an extract of your translated book and tell you if it’s not only correctly written but also loyal to the original text, many communities online would be happy to help. Share a fraction of the translation with fellow authors or in reader’s communities, there is a good chance a native-speaker of the language translated will be willing to help. (I’m not promising anything if you are translating into Romansh.)

Of course, another way to avoid bad quality on your translation is to find the professional translator throBabelcube logo squaredugh official channels that validated their work abilities for you. Plus, you’ll often find user reviews online so it’s always a good idea to take some time online to be sure to avoid a bad experience.

We announced last week a partnership with the translating company Babelcube. They’ll not only put you in contact with professional translators at no upfront cost, they’ll also give you the opportunity to choose to accept their work or to refuse it. You’ll receive excerpts of the book translated and will never be forced to accept a translator. You can even work with a team of translator if you prefer. So go ahead and sign up to Babelcube!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Annemarie

    the problem with babelcube is that they have no quality management whatsoever.
    So you really need someone who is able to check the translation. Beware of translators who offer many languages and translate in other languages than her mother tongue. They often use automatic translation services . The same goes with those who have an inordinate number of ongoing translations.
    Understand and accept that good translators, under the babelcube model of royalty split, can’t be fast, because mostly they have to earn their living with other translations: Otherwise they could accept only betselling authors.

    • AC de Fombelle

      Hence the importance of looking for reviews and feedback of other authors! Thanks for the good advice Annemarie 🙂

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