Tag: publishing

Rant/Addendum to “The View from the Other Side”


The one thing I often get told when I talk about the US/Anglophone dominance of the spec-fic market is some variant of “good translations are expensive, and the market is stretched so there is no money for it”. I’m sorry, that’s just not a valid reason.

Yes, I fully agree that a good translator is expensive. Translating, say, from French to English is more expensive than taking an English author direct. In this we totally agree. But…

But wanna take a guess as to how much a good translator from English into French costs, and how much cheaper it would be to buy a local author? ‘cos it’s known as a symmetrical problem, and we all have the same problems: the literary market is somewhat small (as opposed to TV, for instance), and overstretched.

Most non-Anglophone publishing houses have a fairly large Foreign Rights/Foreign Acquisitions department, which also handles translations. It’s an accepted part of the budget as much as paying authors for books and paying artists for cover art. Most Western Anglophone houses… don’t exactly seem to have the equivalent department. So the “we don’t have any money for translations” thing? Please don’t try to tell me that. It doesn’t stand.

I’ll accept the “there is no market for translations” as a valid point–but then I’ll ask you to start wondering: why is there no market for translations in the US/UK, and plenty in other countries?