Masked Translator has a very insightful and much-needed post for people who want to become literary translators. We’ve all heard the discouraging advice (literary translation doesn’t pay, Americans don’t read literature much less literature in translation, publishers don’t want to use newbies, etc.), but MT gives some very helpful and concrete tips on how to break into the literary translation world.
A few tips that I would add:
–Think about publishing your literary translation yourself. One great tip that MT offers is to consider translating a work that’s in the public domain and thus not subject to copyright restrictions. For example in France, most works of which the author has been dead for more than 70 years are in the public domain, so most of the French classics are up for grabs. Once you’ve done your translation, publish and market it yourself, using a print on demand service like Lulu. This is the service I used for my book on how to become a translator and I’ve been extremely happy with it, and the book has sold almost 2,000 copies with just my (mediocre!) marketing efforts, so your literary translation could probably sell quite a few copies too!
–Don’t count yourself out just because you’re a first-timer. Sandra Smith (who will be speaking at the upcoming ATA conference) has won numerous awards for her outstanding translation of Irene Nemirovsky’s novel Suite Francaise and it was the first book she ever translated. Hopefully Sandra will let us in on some of her secrets at the conference, but there’s definitely hope even if you’re a first-time literary translator.
MT’s post really says it all, so if you’re interested in literary translations, click on over and give it a read!