Katarzyna Bartoszynska
Katarzyna Bartoszynska asked W. Terry Whalin:

Hi Terry, what's your advice for aspiring translators? I've got a handful of published translations (a few articles and one book). I've been working on a translation of a novel on my own time and would like to try to get it published. I've identified some presses that I think it would be a good fit for, but what next? Should I try to find an agent? Should I send some presses a few sample chapters with a book proposal?

W. Terry Whalin Hello Kasia,

Good questions. I've been in publishing many years but never worked with translators or foreign rights. Like any aspect of publishing, it is a matter of forming a relationship with the right group of people who have this inside knowledge about how the deals are made for translation work.

For example at the New York publisher where I work, we have someone who works on securing foreign rights deals for our authors but that person probably doesn't know the answer to your translation question. I have several ideas for you to find this right group who has this insider information:

1. Look on Yahoo and Google for forums of translators. Hopefully these groups talk about how to get new work and will give you some insights. Often these groups have this insider information.

2. Look for a translators association or trade group that you can join. It may have membership dues but will help you learn the professional craft of translation and how to get these opportunities. For example, for many years, I've been active in the American Society of Journalists and Authors, which is the leading nonfiction writers group in the U.S. One of our internal sayings is that "we train our competition." It's true we work hard at helping each other to succeed. You need to find the right group for translators. It may take a financial investment to join such a group but this is where you can build the relationships to get you into this area of publishing.

3. Seek a mentor who is already working in translation. It may be someone in your local area that you can call or email and meet for coffee or lunch. When you get together, ply them with questions and listen carefully for the answers. If you take the initiative to reach out to these professionals, you will be surprised what you can learn.

One of the keys is to find the right group who has this knowledge for you--and not waste your time contacting publishers directly or people who can't help you. For example, many children's writers spend hours or years contacting literary agents--yet few children's writers have literary agents so those actions in my view are a complete waste of time.

You are looking for the right connection to people or groups who have this insider information about how to get these translation opportunities. I hope I've pointed you in several right directions.

W. Terry Whalin
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Straight Talk from the Editor (FREE Ebook):

Follow Me On Twitter:

My blog, The Writing Life (over 1,000 entries):

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more