The Linguist

TheLinguist 58,3-June/July 2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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18 The Linguist Vol/58 No/3 2019 FEATURES the translators they use are hitherto unpublished. "The whole point of our list – of the Portobello list – is discoverability," he stressed. While many publishers and editors prefer to use established translators, the emergence of grants and prizes such as the TA First Translation Prize have increased the incentive for editors to take risks by using unpublished translators. Commissioning a translation If a publisher is interested in a submission, the next step is to commission a reader's report. In some cases, a publisher will have access to an in-house reader, as many houses specialising in translated work employ staff who read in other languages; in other cases, an outside reader is used. Their role is to provide feedback, commenting on the book itself, and how suitable it is for the UK market and particularly for the specific publisher. Once the rights department has acquired a foreign book, a publisher will often organise a 'beauty contest': several translators are asked to translate a sample of the book. Each sample will not only reflect the quality of the translator, but also their affinity with the source text in terms of style, voice, ideas and themes. Publishers select the translator they feel best suits the overall sensibility of the original text, contracts are drawn up and work begins. The translator's draft is subjected to a copy edit, which may involve the author as well as the translator, depending on their working methods and the publisher's approach. Some writers want to be involved in the translation process, others don't; the same is true of translators in the editing process. After proofreading, the book goes to print, and the marketing and publicity team takes the reigns. Several experts mentioned the increased importance of marketing and publicity in today's literary climate, but the involvement of author and translator varies at this stage. A taste of the foreign Publishing translated fiction is a precarious business, so publishers are highly selective when acquiring foreign works. It is inevitably less lucrative than publishing work in its original language, since it entails additional costs in the form of translation and editing in the target language. According to David Lea, Deputy Manager of the London Review Bookshop, "on the Faye Williams sets out to discover the 'magic ingredients' that make a book ripe for translation for the UK market T he news that translated fiction in the UK has grown steadily in the 21st century, with the number of published works doubling to 5.63%, 1 is cause for celebration, even if we might wish that figure to be higher. But it also raises the question: how does a book published in another country come to be selected, translated and published for the UK market? To gain an understanding of how the process works, I consulted industry professionals, including translators, publishers and the agencies they work with. UK publishers find books in various ways depending on the size, commerciality and ethos of the publishing house. The most common route is through submissions from foreign publishers or agents, which usually consist of a synopsis, sales information, short biography of the author (and sometimes translator) and a sample excerpt. Submissions also come via literary scouts, who work with many of the large, corporate houses, offering information on foreign market trends and promoting new work through their networks of publishers. However, of the four publishers I spoke to for this study, only one said that scouts play a significant role in their business. Pitches from translators make up a very small percentage of the books acquired by most of the publishers I spoke to. They warned of translators making ill-informed pitches due to a lack of understanding of the publishing process and market, and/or a lack of commercial savviness. None of the three translators I interviewed had secured work through making a formal pitch themselves. The exception to the rule was Granta Books (an imprint of Portobello). Max Porter, who was Editorial Director at the time, explained that around half the books he acquires come via translators. Even more unusually, most of Hot on the shelf

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