Lisa Carter on Marketing Tips for Translators
by Lara Harmon, Editorial Assistant, Intralingo Inc.

In May, Lisa shared her expertise on the podcast Marketing Tips for Translators. For this episode, producer and freelance English-Swedish translator Tess Whitty asked Lisa what makes marketing for literary translators unique.

Listen to the full podcast for all of Lisa’s insights and advice. Don’t have the time? Need some tempting? Check out these highlights:

The very first and most important thing to remember is that [literary translation is] not an easy path, it’s very difficult to get any sort of translation work published. But that said, I think the important part is to remember there’s many ways of going about it. There’s not just one way you can become a literary translator. You can follow different paths.

(For more on the many paths to literary translation, read Lisa’s six-part guide on getting your foot in the door.)

You have to learn a lot about the industry. The publishing industry. Because literary translation is really mostly about publishing. You have to know who’s published what, what genre, where, who deals in translation, what the market is like, what it will bear, how to write a query letter to propose or pitch a project to a publishing house or an editor or an author. You have to learn a lot about publishing and writing. As much as you do translation.

(Do you have questions about what it’s like working with the publishing industry? Consider asking Lisa, through her coaching services.)

Probably the way I suggest most to starting literary translators is to contact the author first. If you have an author whose work you admire, write to them, tell them how much you love their work, that you want to translate it, and then go from there. Try to get a small piece published in a literary journal or a magazine or an online journal, and then grow from there.

Ninety-nine percent of the time [authors are] going to be thrilled that you wrote to them, that you would like to translate their work. They’re going to work with you to try to make it happen. They’ll give you permission to translate and publish their work.

(Work up your courage by reading Lisa’s advice on contacting authors. And remember to research contracts, royalties and other important negotiation points, so you can protect your rights and the author’s.)

Connections matter. And by connection I don’t mean who you know, and it doesn’t have to be big names. I’m talking about real connections, connecting with people, talking to them, whether that’s online—it doesn’t have to be in person—but really finding that thing you have in common, the way you can help them, the way you can offer something they maybe didn’t even know they wanted.

(Connect by reaching out via social media, blogging, email and professional development—but remember to be sincere and give of yourself. Lisa has more to say about networking here.)

Listen to the full podcast for more advice from Lisa and check out her services page to see if she can help you with your literary translation efforts, through one of her online courses, coaching or manuscript evaluation services.

Lara M. Harmon started studying languages as a teen, teaching herself beginner Japanese so she could read more comic books. After receiving her BA in Theatre from George Mason University, she worked at the university’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and Digital Media, learning German in her spare time. Today, she continues studying German, hoping to translate speculative fiction. She’s proud to support Lisa Carter’s work on Intralingo.