As an author and independent publisher, I’ve just experienced the process of having my first book, The Magic that’s Ours, translated into IsiXhosa and IsiZulu, 2 of the 11 official languages in South Africa. The experience, albeit dissimilar to writing a book, was very interesting as I couldn’t speak, read, or write any of the translated languages.
The journey included;
- Finding a translator, or translators who could translate into both the languages.
This I did by first advertising on the social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn etc. People were very willing to help, but I had no joy so I started to trawl the net. I discovered Translators Cafe.com where I connected with Ngqibelelo Mabeke. I discovered that the options for translators are twofold. One being a translation agency and the other being independent translators. I preferred the more personal touch, so after I checked on 2 of Ngqibelelo’s references, confirmed his reliability and genius, and that he could translate into both language, I confidantly went with him.
- Quote for budgeting purposes
The prices range around R 1,00 to R 1,10 per word just for the translation. Similar costs would apply for proof reading. As I was budget constrained and Ngqibelelo was going to translate into 2 languages, he agreed to 65 cents per word for each book. The word count for each new title was roughly 3000 words. This increased as I remembered that the imprint page, “about the author” section, and the back cover also needed to be translated. A 50% deposit was paid, a contract was signed, and the manuscripts emailed to Ngqibelelo who lives in the Eastern Cape.
- As I couldn’t read the languages, once translated, have independent readers-proficient in the 2 languages, read through the manuscripts.
About 2 weeks later I received the translated manuscripts. As it was a children’s book I decided to try out friends whose native language was that of the translated books. 2 of them, read and gave me feedback about the book. Of the 2 books, only one word needed to be changed out of a total of 6000 words. (For my next book, The Power that’s Ours, which is more of a reader and is 12 000 words, once translated, I will send through to an agency to have it proof read and pay accordingly.)
- New ISBN’s and Barcodes needed.
As the the original title had been translated the original ISBN numbers couldn’t apply. Contact was made with the local ISN Agency, who in turn sent me through the 4 ISBN numbers. 2 for each new title for both print and Ebook formats. Copies of the books along with the info forms have been sent so that the titles can be registered onto the system.
- Have the books designed and created in both EBook and Print formats, as per the original version of The Magic that’s Ours.
As the English version of the titles was already available, I thought that the designing of the new titles would be plain and simple. However the challenge that arose was that the translated versions had more text than the original. I didn’t want to change the size and format of either the EBook or Print version. The designer, Alison Bozack, (firstname.lastname@example.org) did an amazing job in managing to get everything designed as per the English version. She was happy I was ecstatic, and Alison transferred the files to me, with the cover of the books and the contents separately. (This is the norm but it would create a bit of havoc later.) Off to the web designer and printers I went. The web designer – Terri Love Designs; had to amend my online bookstore to include the new EBooks and Print copies, while at the same time update my website to make it smartphone and tablet friendly,something that I’d put off for a while.
- Trouble with the Print version proofs
Of the whole journey, this was the most frustrating part. As I’ve previously published 4 titles, I knew that the first run would be very small – 20 copies of each title, which would be for marketing and publicity purposes. This run would be a print on demand digital print, and for this I used Megadigital, the printers that I’d used for 3 of my 4 previous titles. The issue arose when, on receiving the printed proofs, the cover of the books and the imprint pages were in one language (IsiXhosa) and the contents of the books were in the other language (IsiZulu), and vice versa. But, as I couldn’t read any of these languages (yet) this wasn’t immediately picked up. I only noticed this when I started to thoroughly check the translated draft to the printed proofs. As I was cross referencing 4 versions, looking for similar words in the same language of printed proofs and translated manuscripts, confusion reigned as I couldn’t work out where it had gone wrong. But 4 coffees later I worked it all out. So back to the printer they went….!
With books in hand and available via the website, or in bookstores via my distributor, budgeting and planning begins for the translation of my second book. With IsiXhosa lessons under way, coupled with the great crew who helped me put it together, and with what I’ve learnt from the first experience….it can only run smoother!!!