How to Pitch a Translation - A Guest Post by Nanette McGuinness
Finding a publisher who will take on a book in translation can be tricky. Let’s say you’ve read a great book in one of your working languages, and you think it might become the next Harry Potter. You’ll have studied the publisher’s catalogue and backlist to make sure it’s a good match for them. Even so, how can an editor even tell? They’re unlikely to be able to read the book in the original language, they probably haven’t heard of the author and/or illustrator, and they may not know you or your work, particularly if you’re trying to break in as a translator. Even if you’re established.
Your job is to advocate for the book when you share it with the editor. Put yourself in the acquisition editor’s shoes: arm them with the facts they’ll need to persuade the other teams, especially marketing, that the book is worth the risk and immense amount of time and money the publishing house will need to invest in it.
At a minimum, the editor will need to know the author, illustrator, publisher, when and where was it published, and in what language and language variant. They will also want a short synopsis and the themes the book addresses, as well as:
- Other books or media in the marketplace like it
- Is it part of an existing or planned series?
- Sales figures in the original country
- Has it been reprinted or adapted?
- Movie or other media rights sold?
- Foreign rights in other languages or countries sold?
- Other releases by the author or illustrator?
- Any awards for the book, author or illustrator?
- Other special strengths?
- Thumbnail author and illustrator bios.