Babelcube, the ups and downs.
I've been an avid reader since I knew how to read. So when I started my translation business as a freelancer, I was so looking forward to start working on literary translation that I almost gave everything up when no such work came to me... And that's when I heard about babelcube.
Babelcube is a platform where authors post the books they would like to have translated, and translators offer to tranlate them into different languages.
I immediately opened up an account and made a few offers on several books that I thought I could enjoy reading and working on.
I already have four books translated there and start to see the ups and downs of working via this platform.
You get paid in royalties, which means that if the book doesn't sell, you'll have worked for months for nothing. But how to know if a book is going to sell or not? Let me tell you, you can't. A book can have really good sales and reviews in one language, and not work so well in another one. The best is to look at online local libraries to see which category of books sells the best, and then make offers according to what you discovered during your reserach. But you'll still have no way to predict if you'll get paid a proper amount for your work. It's more or less like a lotery ticket.
You have to work on the promotion of the book (this is part of the royalty payment process - if you want to sell, you have to promote). Given the fact that the author of the book doesn"t speal your language, it will be up to you to put your book out there. Look for bloggers, send mails, ask for reviews, create social network pages for your books, and be active on them as well. This is a huge amount of work.
Also, literary translators usually work via publishers, just like authors do, and those review the book, revise it, edit it, proofread it, and so on, untill your work is the best it could be. Well, babelcube doesn't do that. Once you upload your final translation and the author accepts it, the book gets published. No first readers to tell you what changes should be made. So Babelcube can either make you or break you. After getting several bad reviews on those book selling platforms, I decided to start working in collaboration with a proofreader. And if ou want to give babelcube a chance, I strongly recommend you do the same.
Mostly, the ups are that you can do something you love, and easily find clients. I have made five offers to transtale books from English to French on Babelcube, and signed for four of those books.
There are also authors who prefer to publish their books without using babelcube, and once you already translated a book for them, and they were happy with your work, you can gain regular clients and agree on payment terms with them. This happened to me with one author so far.
Babelcube is a very good way to get your name out there for your literary translation services, but as I said earlier, be careful, because it can Make you or Break you. Make sure the final translation you upload is near perfect, if not perfect. (could it be without an editor going through it?)