Guest Post, Jerome Dumont: So You Want to Translate Your Novel

I am thrilled to welcome author Jerome Dumont who tells us about the joys of translation.

Dangerous Games_600So you want to translate your novel

Even if it has never been so easy to spread anything worldwide, when it comes to self-publishing, most fellow indie authors stick to their domestic market. However, growing one’s readership is always interesting and a translation of your book may be a good way to help achieving this goal.

Before jumping in the process of a translation, you may ask yourself several questions:

Will my book interest a foreign audience?

I write thrillers and so far I have six books of my Rossetti & MacLane series live in the French market. The series has met some success and sells well in France (however the figures are way smaller than the English market).

The plots are either centered around actuality (Dangerous Games is about misuse of smartphone data collection, just think about geolocalization or users’ address books collected without consent in 2012), medically assisted procreation or ageless histories such as vanishing persons, mobsters or chasing a serial killer.

Obviously, the Dangerous Games plot could be of interest for English readers. Good point.

Now what about your characters?

Will Gabriel Rossetti, the French lawyer specialized in divorces be of interest? Will Amanda MacLane, successful Montreal startup CEO, having the world play her social games spark anything to readers? What about Robert Martinez, typical French with inheritance and manners from French-Algerian ‘pied noir’ or Angel, the old school Corsican gangster? Will the audience like them?

I strongly believe that readers are often looking for diversity, especially people who read indie authors. Avid readers don’t want to read the same book over and over again, do they?

No deal breaker here, however, you will have to find the right translator for the job.

Looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right

I’ve been living in Canada for eight years now, and I work in French as much as English, read in both languages and even achieved a small book’s translation (some kind of self-help book which doesn’t require the same skills as translating a novel).

I had no doubt that I couldn’t justice my book by doing it myself. So I needed to find the right translator. This is where things get a little picky. It’s common knowledge that you need a translator whose mother tongue is the target language.

I must admit I was lucky. Asking over my social networks, especially my Canadian English friends, I soon got a list of several translators. I got in touch with some of them and my main requirement was somebody who knew well the South of France typical people and manners. Lucky me! Robyn Jaquays was the one as she lived for ten years there.

She offered me a free sample and to say the least, I was impressed to re-discover my story in English! She got the main pictures, she saw the characters and could definitely relate to figures she must have met in real life. She got the mood, the rhythm: a perfect fit!

We’re living ‘only’ 300 kilometers away (which is almost a cake walk in Canada…) so I had the chance to meet her and to talk about my characters, my books. I got to know more about her French experience and I strongly recommend to arrange a meeting with your translator if you get the chance. I do love social networking, however, getting to know someone in real life is definitely irreplaceable!

We did work exchanging and reviewing back and forth, chapter after chapter. There’s an obvious point there: you have to be heavily involved in the process, as the author of course and as the first reader too. Thus, if you have absolutely no knowledge of the language you want to translate to, you won’t be able to do your part. In this case, you’ll need to trust even more your translator or find a first reader near you to comment and give you his/her opinion.

I thought Robyn may have difficulties with some tech related parts of the book, well, she hadn’t. Some specificities of French legal procedures did, although it was some slight details.

It took time. More than I was expected. Nevertheless she was the one I wanted for my translation so I took patience. The result is worthy. Definitely.

But… Wait? Even if I highly trust her, launching my book immediately after the final draft could be suicidal. Impatience is indie author’s best enemy, isn’t it?

The book had to be reviewed, proofread. As I said before, I couldn’t handle the translation and let’s be honest, neither a professional proofreading process. Of course I read a lot in English, but does that make me qualified to proofread my book. It’s not an excess of humility to admit that the answer is a no.

There I was, in the market for a proofreader.

Proofreader Needed

I do have a set of beta-readers for my French books and proficiency in French (although I’ve learned the hard way that it was far from perfect!). I definitely needed a professional proofreader.

Problem was: I knew no one at the moment. Thanks to Twitter and a wise use of hashtags, I found several results. Did my homework and consulted their website.

Reading blog posts from Julia Gibbs and testimonies about her work impressed me. I got in touch with her, she quickly and professionally replied, so we were in business.

As she lives in the UK, the question of US or UK English had to be addressed. US English seemed the best choice. She was ahead of her schedule and sent me the final draft two weeks before the deadline. Launch had never been so close, but… Wait?

What about my cover?

A tailor made professional cover

We all know that ‘you don’t judge a book by its cover’ (really ?), however it’s also commonsense that an image is worth a thousand words and that ‘you never have a second chance to make a first impression’.

Lots of big French publishers use pretty monacal covers: name of the book, author, publisher and that’s pretty much it!

As an indie author launching his first books in need to appeal French readers, I had a simple work on my covers (also, as it’s a series, they’re based on a similar template).

I knew from the beginning that it just couldn’t fit for English market, full of detailed and highly worked on covers. Thus I chose to have my cover done by Damonza.com. They did a beautiful job and I couldn’t recommend them enough. Right on time for the first proposals, two day edit. Their work is really worth the price.

Conclusion

Being an indie author cannot be improvised, even less when it comes to translation. Getting things done require to be helped by professionals.

Translating a book requires time and money. I was lucky enough to self-fund the process and I must admit that I didn’t think in ROI terms. More than a financial operation, translating my book is an opportunity to reach different readers, different cultures and meet lots of new people, as the indie author’s and readers community is quite supportive.

However, I’m aware that I’m diving in a huge sea after swimming in a lake. Shall you consider translating an English book to another language, let’s say French, be aware that the market is way smaller there.

Whatever happens, translating my work gave me a huge amount of pleasure, the opportunity to meet and work with wonderful people, that’s already worth the journey!

About the Author

I practiced law for nearly fifteen years in various countries such as Belgium (where I lived for 10 years), my native south of France and Quebec, where I’ve been living for more than eight years.

With the objective of confirming the adage, “the law opens many doors, provided you use one to leave” I made my escape from the legal world in 2008 into that of multimedia, namely the production of video games and mobile applications.

I had the pleasure to participate in the creation of a dozen games and to immerse myself in a crazy and creative environment where I could trade-in my suit for a pair of jeans!

I’ve been exposed to a mixture of cultures, influences and a variety of experiences that have all served, in turn, to satisfy and stimulate my curiosity.

My sense of humour and innate refusal to take myself too seriously also play a big role in how I see life: an attitude I credit to my grandmother, who instilled in me the love of a good turn of phrase and a play on words.

It was ultimately the accumulation of my life’s experience, both professionally and personally, that prompted me to get into novel writing….

However, although the desire was there, the inspiration was not – at least not at first.

Then, one special morning, the characters I’d had in mind for a while began to come to life and the Rossetti & MacLane novels were born!

Under the banner of technology, humour and suspense, we are privy to witness the birth of a new bond between two characters who could very well never have met and yet manage form a very dynamic duo.

 Dangerous Games 3D_600About the Book

Dangerous Games: A Rossetti & MacLane Novel

What starts out as an ordinary divorce procedure ultimately takes lawyer Gabriel Rossetti and his client Amanda Deschamps on a thrilling adventure into the world of on-line gaming and personal data piracy.

From Nice to Montreal, at an accelerating pace set by an ever changing landscape of new technology, Gabriel and Amanda are drawn into a whirlwind of unexpected twists and turns that leave them – and the reader – breathless.

Relying on Gabriel’s valuable contacts and Amanda’s computer know-how, the duo has to unravel a dangerous web to save Amanda’s start-up video game company from falling victim to malicious players who have illegally stolen personal data from millions of on-line gamers.

See the universe of technology and video games in a light you never thought possible!

You’ll never look at your smartphone the same way again…

Dangerous Games: A Rossetti & MacLane Novel is available on Amazon.

Follow me on Twitter : @jdumont06

Jerome DumontAbout the Author

I practiced law for nearly fifteen years in various countries such as Belgium (where I lived for 10 years), my native south of France and Quebec, where I’ve been living for more than eight years. With the objective of confirming the adage, “the law opens many doors, provided you use one to leave” I made my escape from the legal world in 2008 into that of multimedia, namely the production of video games and mobile applications.

I had the pleasure to participate in the creation of a dozen games and to immerse myself in a crazy and creative environment where I could trade-in my suit for a pair of jeans!

I’ve been exposed to a mixture of cultures, influences and a variety of experiences that have all served, in turn, to satisfy and stimulate my curiosity.

My sense of humour and innate refusal to take myself too seriously also play a big role in how I see life: an attitude I credit to my grandmother, who instilled in me the love of a good turn of phrase and a play on words. It was ultimately the accumulation of my life’s experience, both professionally and personally, that prompted me to get into novel writing….

However, although the desire was there, the inspiration was not – at least not at first. Then, one special morning, the characters I’d had in mind for a while began to come to life and the Rossetti & MacLane novels were born! Under the banner of technology, humour and suspense, we are privy to witness the birth of a new bond between two characters who could very well never have met and yet manage form a very dynamic duo.

2 responses

  1. Thanks! It’s definitely a huge task especially when it comes to trying to getting away from literal translation and trying to keep the original atmosphere. That’s why you definitely have to get along well with your translator and work really close.

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