The Linguist

The Linguist 54,4

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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14 The Linguist Vol/54 No/4 2015 FEATURES At European Literature Night, Deborah Langton picks up some top tips for pitching translations to publishers I f you think literary translators are shy, retiring people, go along to a pitching event. On 4 June, an audience of translators, publishers and others with a passion for European writing gathered at the Free Word Centre in London to be informed, entertained, moved and enthused by the eight finalists in the European Literature Night's Translation Pitch event. The aim of the evening was to support and promote the work of European writers who had not yet had a complete work published in English, while offering a public platform to emerging translators. Only 3% of books published in English are translations, so it is a challenge to get your favourite taken up. But with advice and practice, translators can learn how to present effectively and enthusiastically, and edge our way forward to book-length contracts, which is why programmes such as the European Literature Night (ELN) are so important. Launched in 2009 at the British Library, the ELN has been extended for the first time this year to cover two weeks of events in 24 major European cities. Initiated by the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) and the European Commission Representation in the UK, and chaired by journalist Rosie Goldsmith, it provides a showcase for some of the best new writing from across Europe. Taking part The journey to the ELN Translation Pitch: New Literary Voices final started as far back as autumn 2014, when translators were alerted to the opportunity. I heard about it at the International Translation Day's Perfect Pitch session, 1 at which I was placed joint runner-up. This was late September and submissions had to be in by early January. This gave us a realistic period in which to select a book, prepare a sample translation and develop the written pitch. The organisers asked for much the same details as a publisher would expect: • Factual details, such as number of pages, genre and year of publication; confirmation that the foreign rights are available; whether the author has been published in English; titles and dates of the author's published works; details of awards for the author. • A clear synopsis in around 200 words. • A compelling case (again, around 200 words) as to why the book should be translated in English. (A publisher would not normally expect this.) • Any similarities with other writers/books. • Your own sample translation from the book (max 2,000 words; publishers may ask for longer or shorter passages). Of 61 submissions from 21 national literatures, eight 'pitchers' were selected (see box-out for details). 2 The winning translator, Angela Rodel, went on to receive support and promotion from English PEN and Free Word, including a £250 PEN Samples grant and an interview published online. Translators Anne Posten and Andrea Reece received commendations. Learning from experience In the last 18 months, I have taken part in three pitching events, and I find that preparing a pitch – whether written or verbal – is an excellent way of concentrating the mind on what it is that could attract publishers and readers. Although the restrictions imposed by space (if preparing a pithy written pitch for a busy editor) or time (when preparing a two- minute slot) are a challenge, this is a good exercise in paring down. Two factors made the ELN pitching event different. Firstly, the inclusion of professional actors to read – or should I say perform – the translation samples. Their rendering of the extracts was made all the more powerful by Pitch perfect WINNING SMILE Angela Rodel receives her prize from Chris Gribble of Writers' Centre Norwich

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