My Babelcube Experience, Author Seeks Translators (part 1)

Babelcube logoWhat author wouldn’t love to have her/his books translated into other languages? Babelcube could be your dream come true. I see you’re reading the Danish version of my latest… hope you enjoy…

The concept of Babelcube is genius; they put authors and translators together to create foreign versions of the author’s book. Additionally, they distribute those books to retailers and offer a fine royalty to both author and translator. For authors,  it’s free to sign up with minimal effort, and the royalties increase as sales do plus you have a translator with vested interest in selling books.

(also see part 2 of My Babelcube Experience)

Too good to be true?

Maybe, maybe not. Definitely deserves a test run.

I found the upload process user-friendly. Just sign up (for free), fill out a profile and add books. The standard stuff goes there including title, cover image, description, genre, 2000 max character sample and more. They only accept books already listed on Amazon. You’re asked to briefly write about existing sales/rankings plus give website links, social media, Goodreads and more to show your commitment to author platform and marketing. This is a good thing IMO, something perspective translators probably appreciate. (Here’s an example of an author’s Babelcube page: http://www.babelcube.com/user/jason-matthews.)

After filling out that info, you wait. Within a few days two offers came in for two of my books, one for an Italian translation and the other for Spanish. The translators wrote in perfect English, which gave me some peace of mind (see below), and you can research them as well. Along with the offers came sample translations of the first page or two so I could check with foreign friends who read Italian and Spanish before moving on to the next stage.

(Save 92% Sell Ebooks on Amazon and Major Retailers)

Stage 2 is sending your entire book minus any of the front or back matter. The translators work on the first 10 pages and return it. Then you go back to your foreign friends and see if those 10 pages read well. At this point you can still cancel the deal. Otherwise, if you like it and want to move forward, you agree to the full translation and go from there. (I’m waiting on the first 10 pages from both translators and will follow-up as this continues and link them here. *Update: the Italian version has been approved and is due for full translation by Sept. 16th.*)

Peace of mind?

One obvious concern is if a translator has a high-end translation software and uses that instead of doing an actual human translation; the results might pass my tests but upset a foreign reader. Do I really know enough people who read fluently and can identify a high-end software translation versus a human one? That remains to be seen, and Babelcube’s FAQ section is fairly limited in this regard. I emailed their support with this question and received no response to date. Bummer.

Payments – The Bottom Line

The translators make the most when the book generates less than $2000 in royalties, and the author does better as more books are sold. Babelcube’s cut is 15% across the board. Remember the translator is doing all the initial work and has the most at risk. Good for authors as the translator wants to sell books when they are published.

Babelcube royalties chartWhat about distribution partners and retailers? These are all the biggies with more probably entering the picture soon.

Babelcube retail partners

I’m an optimist and am going for it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if people have concerns about piracy, rights, length of terms, professionalism and more.

(also see part 2 of My Babelcube Experience)

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