Readers Ask: When should I begin to speak publicly about a literary translation project?
By Lisa Carter, Intralingo Inc.

Every now and then I present questions that readers of Intralingo have asked regarding different aspects of literary translation, along with my answers.

Hello, Lisa,

I just got permission from an author to translate a short story of hers (I’m very excited! I know it will be a lot of work, but I’m happy to have the chance to try it), and I realized I have a question:

When is it okay to talk about a project publicly? I’d love to share the name of the author I’m going to be working with as I talk about working on the project on Twitter, but I don’t know if that’s kosher. I know you’ve talked on your blog about projects you’re working on. Do you have any guidelines for boundaries when discussing translation projects?



Dear Lara,

First, congratulations on the project! Second, regarding your question, as you might have gleaned from reading many of my posts already: there’s no one simple answer!

Here are a few thoughts:

  • Translation and publication can take a really long time to happen. As a result, some people prefer to say nothing until the piece has been accepted by a publisher.
  • Others (both translators and authors) are so happy the opportunity for translation has arisen that they shout it from the rooftops immediately.
  • This is definitely a question that can be put to the author. What does she prefer? Does she want to wait a little until you’re a ways into the project, to make sure the working relationship is working out for both of you? Does she want to wait until a publisher has been found? Translation is a collaboration, so this discussion needs to take place and you both need to agree on how to proceed.
  • Building a platform, growing an audience, making sure people know about your work and the author’s work are vital if you actually want the piece(s) to be read. So interest has to be built up, and this can take some time.
  • If you and the author will be self-publishing, then the marketing will be entirely up to you. Building that platform is even more crucial, so be sure to give yourself enough lead time.
  • Remember that, even in traditional publishing, marketing can begin up to a year in advance of publication!

I hope this helps, Lara! Let me know what you and the author decide.

Readers, when do you begin announcing what you’re working on? Does it vary, depending on the length of the work (short story versus novel) or means of publication (self or traditional)? How so? We’d love to get your input.





Lisa Carter is an acclaimed Spanish>English translator. Her work has won the Alicia Gordon Award for Word Artistry in Translation and been nominated for an International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Lisa offers translation, editing, professional development and promotion services through her company, Intralingo Inc., at
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Buffer this pageEmail this to someone