Interview: Rachel Hildebrant

Translator Rachel Hildebrandt is the mastermind behind the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, a growing force in the diffusion of international literature among American libraries. Recently, Rachel agreed to answer some of my questions about GLLI and the outlook for books in translation. (Traduzione in italiano sarà presto disponibile.)

How was the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative born?

GLLI was the brainchild of a small group of translators and publishers who realized that librarians would make natural allies in their efforts to celebrate and promote international literature. Back in Winter 2016, we started out as a small email circle, and soon our base began to grow with the addition of an increasing number of librarians. We recognized early on the need to build connections with the professional associations in which librarians are active. I joined ALA as an affiliate member, and along with several librarians, I successfully proposed a session for the 2017 ALA conference on international literature and its importance to libraries. Since that time, our numbers have grown and our engagement is expanding.

What are GLLI’s short- and long-term goals?

In the short-term, one of our major goals is to situate ourselves organizationally such that we can become partners with libraries and library organizations of all kinds. We are exploring some options for fiscal sponsorship, which would provide us with umbrella nonprofit status. With this status, we would be in a good place to apply for grants and corporate sponsorships in order to create a sustainable base for us and to increase the reach of our efforts and projects. Our projects are varied, including: age- and genre-specific book lists for school, public and academic libraries; exploring options for new translated literature awards; pulling together library-focused pan-publisher catalogs across the international literature space; sessions and engagement at library conferences; developing platforms to promote self-published translations among librarians and library users. Long-term we would like to build connections with specific aspects of the library framework, such as partnerships with library venders, aggregators, e-content providers, and such. Ultimately we want to become the go-to resource for librarians seeking to globalize their collections and programs to meet the changing needs of their diverse populations of children, teen and adult users.

It’s very difficult to generalize about library use in Italy due to the great regional differences and the fact that many libraries do not maintain information about their users. One statistic regarding Italian state-run libraries mentions 1.5 million users (out of a total population of about 60.5 million inhabitants).  Can you shed any light on American libraries and their users?

American libraries have spent the past 20 years reinventing themselves. They still are repositories of countless books, but the library of today is just as much shaped by the services it provides, as it is by the number of books in its collection. Libraries have become community spaces and hubs unlike anything else we have today. They are homes to book clubs, artists in residence programs, teen services, legal services, computer labs, maker labs, writing spaces, you name it. Many libraries see themselves as the bridges between the diverse populations in their jurisdictions, and they are servicing individuals from diverse cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. Libraries are positioned to be truly communal spaces, and they conceive of themselves as havens, ports of call and safety, for anyone and everyone. Marginalized groups in particular  – immigrants and refugees, the LBGTQ community, ethnic minorities – will find allies in libraries. Library users truly are a cross-section of American sociey in the breadth of its diversity and nuances.

Do you think American readers are skeptical about reading books that have been translated? And if so, how do you think their reluctance can be overcome?

I don’t know that the real problem is that American readers are reluctant to read translated literature. What I feel is sooner the case is that they are not knowledgeable about where to find international works in general and the kind of works that would interest them specifically. They also are not aware that in the globalized world in which we live, they really NEED to be reading globally. We like to travel the world and send our children abroad, but we don’t read the world. With that said, unless you are a reader of international literature journals or a follower of certain presses, how is the average reader going to easily find these works? The vast majority of readers are not New York Times subscribers or even know that World Literature Today exists. On the other hand, I feel like many of the international works being celebrated in the major review platforms fall solidly into the literary fiction camp. To be honest, many US readers are avid consumers of genre fiction. This isn’t something for them to feel ashamed about, but it is something for the international literature crowd to consider. Yes, we need the dark, obscure, genre-breaking works, but to be honest, what is going to win the day for US readers are authors like Backman and Koch and Jonasson. At the same time, readers need to know that these works are non-Anglophone works so they can recognize their inherent diversity and learn from the alternate perspectives that are expressed by authors around the world. I think that the answer to overcoming skepticism is a complicated one. I do firmly believe that one answer is libraries, which have a long tradition of being tastemakers for readers, young and old. We have all been handed books by librarians at various in our lives – titles we had never heard of – and been enchanted, transformed, by those books. Librarians are curators and conveyors of information and collections within a truly demographic framework. It doesn’t matter what your bank account holds, you will walk out of a library with a treasure. That cannot be said of bookshops, however lovely they may be. To me, arming librarians with the resources to intentionally globalize their collections and the means of circulating and programming with these titles will go a long way to increasing the access points of American readers to global literature.

In your opinion, what makes a foreign title more or less attractive in translation?

This is a very difficult question depending on the perspective you are coming from. I am sometimes baffled by comments from publishers about the “suitability” of a work for the US market. Since I read a broad variety of works – and I know I’m not the only one who does so – my immediate reaction to that line of reasoning is: “But the US is such a diverse country that somebody somewhere will read it.” For example, although I’m not a poetry reader, that does not mean that a work of poetry won’t find a decent reception. The same reasoning applies to all kinds of fiction and nonfiction. In terms of the works themselves, obviously the quality of a translation – how lightly and easily it rests in its new language – plays a role in the attractiveness or quality of the newly rendered work. Because of my own background as an editor, one of my personal pet peeves is the editing process, which is often skimped on by publishers these days. Regardless of the quality of the translation, I am more likely to set aside a poorly edited work then one that feels “clean” to me.

As a translator, what are some of the challenges you encounter in rendering a foreign book for English-language readers?

Prior to moving into the literary translation space, I was an editor and a more general translator. Having now experienced translation from a couple of corners, one main difference between literary translators and other translators is the issue of style and voice. And not just subjective style, but what “works” in English. The most fulfilling experiences I have had with contemporary authors have involved equal measures of trust and flexibility. The authors who are aware that dogged adherance to their sentence structures and language choices will not necessarily produce a fine work in translation, are the most librerating and powerful partners. With such support, the rendering and localization of a text is an exciting and challenging process. For me personally, dialogue is a challenge. The text itself is often easy enough to reimagine into English, but casting it into distinct voices is a completely different matter. I often read these passages out loud to just “hear” if an English speaker would actually say something a particular way.

Your small press, Weyward Sisters Publishing, brings crime and noir fiction written by female authors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to English-language readers. Do you know of other small presses working with translated literature and limited focus? What’s the outlook, in your opinion, for these highly specialized publishing houses?

Yes, I am aware of a few more limited-focus publishers. Le French Book publishes French crime fiction in translation, while Plamen, Pica Pica, Istros, Gallic, and Kurodahan all publish region-specific works in translation. I would like to think that the outlook for these presses is rosy. As a translator who has worked with and submitted works to other presses, I know the feeling that comes with the perception that you are up against the world. And since many of the presses in the international literature space are small, indie houses, the odds of “your” work getting picked up are relatively slim. Furthermore, as some publishers are rightly trying to diversify their source language base and favor other regions and languages, German and French works may find themselves falling increasingly out of favor. Nonetheless, regardless of the statistics, most US readers have not read all that many contemporary works from either of these languages. It may be that the specialized presses will, through their concentrations, excite new readers for these continuingly rich literary cultures.

Thank you Rachel for you time and insightful replies, and best of luck with your endeavors. 






Il Premio Letterario EWWA 2017/ The EWWA Literary Prize 2017

Hai mai notato quanti concorsi per la scrittura e premi di letteratura ci sono in Italia? (SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH) Chi non è del mestiere potrebbe pensare che sono un esagerazione, ma per i scrittori non sono mai troppi.

La partecipazione ad un concorso è un’opportunità per la crescita, se vinci o no. L’atto di scrivere o adattare un lavoro già fatto a dei criteri ti porta ad analizzare il proprio lavoro; ti spinge a lavorare al meglio; ti stimola a finire un testo rispettando una scadenza; ti offre la possibilità di confrontarti con gli altri; e ti amplifica le tue esperienze come persona e come scrittore. E nel caso che vinci o vieni scelto come finalista, avrai maggiore visibilità e considerazione per qualsiasi cosa che produci.

I premi sono di tutti i tipi: quelli ad alto profilo e quelli piccoli; quelli con tantissime regole e quelli che lasciano molto libertà; quelli che richiedono una quota per partecipare e quelli gratis. Il trucco sta nel trovare il concorso fatto per te e il tuo modo di scrivere.

Recentemente EWWA (European Writing Women Association), con il Patrocinio della Regione Lazio e la collaborazione di Amazon Publishing, ha annunciato un nuovo premio aperto a tutti (uomini e donne), senza preclusioni per quanto riguarda il genere letterario. Il tema è Storie di rinascita. Le sfide e le cadute, gli ostacoli e i traguardi nella vita di una donna. E il premio è molto interessante: il primo romanzo classificato verrà pubblicato sia in formato cartaceo sia in formato digitale da Amazon Publishing.  (Per il regolamento clicca qui.)

Amazon Publishing è la casa editrice di Amazon e produce dei libri belli, con delle copertine d’impatto, e un editing veramente professionale. L’opportunità di avere il proprio libro pubblicato da loro non va sprecato!

Have you ever noticed how many writing competitions there are? In Italy there are an incredible number. In the eyes of non-writers, it could seem that there are too many, but for writers there are never enough literary prizes.

Participation in a writing competition is an opportunity for growth, whether you win or not. The act of writing or adapting a piece in progress to specific guidelines helps you analyze your own work; it pushes you to do your best; it stimulates you to complete a piece within a set period of time; it offers you the chance to compare your work to that of others; and it adds to your experiences, as a person and as a writer. If you win or are chosen as a finalist, you will have greater visibility and be more highly regarded in the future, no matter what you write.

Literary prizes come in all shapes and sizes: high profile and virtually unknown, competitions full of rules and others that allow the writer incredible freedom, ones that require a fee and others that are free of charge. The trick is to find the competition that’s right for you and your way of writing.

Recently EWWA (European Writing Women Association), together with patronage from the Region of Lazio and in collaboration with the Italian branch of Amazon Publishing, announced a new literary competition open to all writers of Italian (whether they are male or female) and with no limitations regarding genre. As for the theme, the committee has chosen: Storie di rinascita. Le sfide e le cadute, gli ostacoli e i traguardi nella vita di una donna (Stories of rebirth. Challenges, disappointments, obstacles and accomplishments in the life of a woman.) And the prize on offer is very interesting: the first place novel will be published in both paperback and digital format by Amazon Publishing. (To read the rules, available only in Italian, click here.)

Amazon Publishing—the full-service publishing arm of Amazon—produces beautiful books, with impactful covers, and top-notch professional editing. Don’t waste your chance to have them publish your novel!


Sta per essere rilanciato, nel contesto di una specifica e pianificata strategia promozionale, un libro che ho tradotto di recente. La promozione di un libro è di grande importanza per trovare successo in qualsiasi campo dell’editoria—tradizionale, partnership, o self.

(Scroll down for English)

Puoi scrivere un libro favoloso, e quel libro favoloso—nella sua lingua originale e/o in traduzione—può essere messo sul mercato. Ma se i lettori non sanno che esiste, è impossibile che trovi il successo. Quando un autore indipendente mi chiede di tradurre suo libro, spiego sempre che senza un piano di promozione, l’investimento nella traduzione è sprecato—sono soldi buttati via.

Come dice Kristen Tate, editor e consulente per la promozione, “Credo fermamente che un libro ben scritto può sempre trovare i suoi lettori. Fuori dalla propria porta ci sono lettori affamati di libri belli e sorprendenti. E’ sempre più facile trovare il pubblico che apprezzerà il genere di libro che scrivi, grazie alla sempre maggiore capacità e raffinatezza degli algoritmi di ricerca e consiglio, e anche alle comunità di lettori appassionati tipo Goodreads e altre piattaforme simili.”

Forse deciderai, come autore, di rivolgerti ad un professionista come Kristen, oppure forse ti senti sufficientemente preparato e capace con i social per farlo da te, ma in entrambi i casi devi essere pronto a mettere a punto via via la tua campagna promozionale per raggiungere i tuoi lettori. La tua formula va modificata e aggiustata finche non raggiungi i tuoi obbiettivi. Nel settore si parla in inglese di ‘traction’, cioè la trazione che porta alle vendite. E questo dipende non solo da una promozione efficace ma anche dal genere, il titolo e la copertina, la descrizione o sinossi, il prezzo, la qualità della storia e la scrittura, la tempistica. La giusta combinazione di questi fattori può portare al successo, e sono tutti fondamentali. E’ un po’ come creare una nuova ricetta. Se vuoi produrre una bellissima e gustosissima torta, ti servono gli ingredienti giusti nelle proporzioni giuste, e devi anche eseguire ogni passo della preparazione nel modo corretto. Per esempio, troppo poco lievito, e la torta sarà tristemente bassa; se non la lasci in forno abbastanza, l’interno non sarà cotto e quindi non sarà mangiabile. Molto probabilmente devi fare quella torta diverse volte prima di riuscirci bene. Se la tua “torta” non viene come vuoi, cambi qualcosa nella preparazione e riprova.

Una strategia di promozione non può salvare un libro preparato in fretta e furia—come la decorazione non può nascondere una torta bruciata—ma quando curi tutti gli aspetti della tua “torta”, troverai il risultato desiderato. Dopo aver investito tempo, energia e passione per scrivere il tuo libro, non merita altrettanto in termini di promozione?


One of the books I have recently translated is being re-launched within the context of an organized and thought-out promotional strategy, an essential element for success in publishing, whether it is traditional, partnership, or self.

You can write an amazing book and that amazing book—in its original language and/or in translation—can be made available for purchase. But if readers are unaware of its presence, success is impossible. I regularly stress with the entrepreneurial authors I translate that without a plan for promotion, their investment in translation is wasted. 

Editor and promotion consultant Kristen Tate says, “I’m a firm believer that every well-written book can find appreciative readers. They are out there, and they are hungry for books that will surprise and delight them. Thanks to the growing sophistication of search and recommendation algorithms, and to passionate communities of readers on Goodreads and other platforms, it is easier than it used to be to find an audience who will respond to the kind of fiction you write.”

Your promotion strategy may involve a professional like Kristen or you may be a savvy social media user and feel you have the necessary skills, but in either case it is important to be ready to fine-tune and adjust your campaign to your target readership until you get the results you desire. Traction for a book, followed hopefully by greater sales, depends not only on effective promotion but also on a number of other factors – genre, title and cover, description or synopsis, pricing, quality of the story and writing, timing – and success hinges on finding just the right combination. It’s something like creating a new recipe for a cake: you need the right ingredients and proportions, and proper execution of the various steps assures the result. For example, too little baking powder and the cake will turn out flat, or if you take it out of the oven too soon the inside will be uncooked and thus inedible. You’ll probably need to make that cake several times before you get it right.  If you’re not seeing results, make an adjustment and try again.

While a promotion strategy cannot make up for a poorly executed product, it is a critical factor that cannot be overlooked. Just like pretty icing cannot fully hide a burned cake. After having invested your time, energy, and passion in writing your book, doesn’t it deserve the same with regard to its promotion?


Ovunque guardi, mi sembra di notare un altro libro tradotto in inglese che scala le classifiche o che ottiene una recensione favorevole. Ho appena dato un’occhiata alla lista dei 100 titoli del 2015 del New York Times Book Review. Nella categoria narrativa e poesia, nove titoli su cinquanta sono in traduzione; cinque fra quelli di saggistica sono in traduzione. In altre parole, da questo campione, il 14% dei titoli selezionati dal New York Times si presentano orgogliosamente come traduzioni. Siamo ben oltre quel mero 3% di libri tradotti che secondo molti riescono a raggiungere il mercato  americano.

Non è la mia intenzione di criticare i risultati delle stime altrui; voglio solo suggerire che le traduzioni di qualità, da qualsiasi lingua, stanno diventando sempre più accettate e rispettate.

Per quanto riguarda i titoli tradotti dall’italiano, sulla copertina del New York Times Book Review del 27 novembre 2015 compare la recensione di “The Complete Works of Primo Levi” curato e in parte tradotto da Ann Goldstein. Lo stesso numero del Book Review, inoltre, contiene una recensione di “Like Family” (“Il nero e l’argento”) di Paolo Giordano, tradotto da Anne Milano Appel. Per la seconda volta in tre mesi che la recensione di copertina è di un libro tradotto dall’italiano. Ad agosto, al centro dell’attenzione era “The Story of the Lost Child” (“Storia della bambina perduta”) di Elena Ferrante, sempre tradotto da Ann Goldstein. Senza dubbio, questi libri si collocano nella categoria ‘letteratura’ ma, a mio parere, esiste le condizioni per una proliferazione di traduzioni dall’italiano per tutti i generi.

NYT 100Notables 2015


It seems that everywhere I turn, I read about another book in translation hitting a bestseller list or being favorably reviewed. I’ve just perused the New York Times Book Review’s 100 Notable books of 2015. On the fiction and poetry list, nine out of the fifty titles are translations, and five titles in the nonfiction category list a translator. In other words, from this sampling 14% are proudly announcing that they are translations. Well above the frequently quoted three percent figure.

Now, I’m not criticizing anyone’s calculations but I do want to suggest that quality translations are becoming increasingly accepted and respected, no matter what the original language.

With regard to Italian titles, on November 27, 2015 the New York Times Book Review’s cover review is of “The Complete Works of Primo Levi” edited and in part translated by Ann Goldstein, and the same issue features a review of Paolo Giordano’s “Like Family” translated by Anne Milano Appel. According to the editor of the NYT Book Review, this is the second time in this season that a cover review has focused on a book translated from the Italian. The other was just three months ago when Rachel Cusk reviewed Elena Ferrante’s “The Story of the Lost Child” also translated by Ann Goldstein. While these titles definitely fit into the literature category, I do believe there is a swelling wave growing offshore for all genres of Italian books.


E’ un grande piacere annunciare che Cristiano Gentili, autore del romanzo ‘Ombra Bianca’ (‘Then She Was Born’ in inglese) ha firmato un contratto per rappresentanza con l’agente letteraria americana, April Eberhardt. Cristiano ed io abbiamo lavorato nell’invero 2014-2015 sulla traduzione di questa toccante storia che gira intorno ad una bambina albina, basata su eventi reali che l’autore ha saputo mentre era un funzionario internazionale per l’ONU in Africa e durante un suo viaggio in Tanzania.

In concomitanza con il libro, Cristiano ha creato un progetto innovativo: un Social Audio Book (S.A.B.) in grado di unire le voci di magliaie di persone per creare una sorte di collage per narrare la storia. Papa Francesco è stato il primo a donare la sua voce, e poco dopo undici premio Nobel per la pace hanno seguito il suo esempio. Chiunque può partecipare. Basta visitare il sito Help African Albinos. E’ un modo per dare voce a chi non ce l’ha.



sign contract


It is my great pleasure to announce that Cristiano Gentili, author of the novel ‘Then She Was Born’, has signed with American literary agent April Eberhardt. Cristiano and I worked over the winter of 2014-2015 on the translation of his deeply touching account of an albino girl, a story based on real events he witnessed as a UN operative in Africa and during a fact-finding trip to Tanzania.

In conjunction with the novel, Cristiano has created an innovative Social Audio Book (S.A.B.) project that combines the voices of thousands of people to form a sort of collage to narrate the story. The first person to lend his voice was Pope Francis, and his gesture was followed by eleven Nobel peace laureates. Anyone can participate by going to the Help African Albinos website. It’s a great way to show your support for those whose voices are unheeded.




Buone notizie / Good news

Negli ultimi mesi, ci sono stati alcuni segnali incoraggianti dal mondo dell’editoria per quanto riguarda le traduzioni.

L’evento più importante negli Stati Uniti per il settore dell’editoria è BookExpo America, appuntamento che si tiene tutti gli anni verso la fine di maggio. Una delle sue parti, il Global Market Forum, è sempre seguita con grande attenzione da esperti e professionisti alla ricerca di nuove tendenze. Quest’anno, il forum è stato dedicato alle traduzioni.

Durante un dibattito (come riferito dal Publishing Perspectives), la literary scout Maria Campbell ha detto, “Per entrare nel mercato dei testi in lingua inglese, gli autori devono partecipare attivamente alla ricerca del traduttore giusto.” Infatti, come come spiega l’articolo, il rapporto tra autore e traduttore èfondamentale , perché il traduttore può fare la differenza fra un libro che trovasia una casa editrice, sia un pubblico di lettori, e una storia maldestra che non sarà letta da nessuno.

Il fatto che BookExpo America abbia dedicato tanta attenzione alla traduzione è promettente, perché potrebbe incoraggiare le case editrici ad aprirsi sempre di più verso la ricchezza e l’innovazione che caratterizzano la letteratura disponibile fuori da Nord America, narrativa e saggistica incluse. Inoltre, potrebbe attirare un maggiore interesse dei lettori per i libri tradotti.

Per fortuna, questa apertura verso la traduzione non è limitata solo al mercato americano. Un articolo intitolato ‘British Readers Lost in Translations as Foreign Literature Sales Boom’ (I lettori britannici si perdono nelle traduzioni con il boom nelle vendite di titoli stranieri) è apparso in The Observer verso la fine di agosto. La prima frase dell’articolo è significativa: “I lettori britannici stanno divorando romanzi stranieri ad un livello record, segnando un piccolo boom nei titoli tradotti, come dimostrato dal successo di autori scandinavi quali Jo Nesbø.” L’aspetto interessante è che agenti, editor e venditori di libri dimostrano grande entusiasmo per i titoli in traduzione, che spesso riescono a vendere migliaia di copie (e qui non stiamo parlando dei bestseller degli autori più noti). Finalmente queste opere cominciano ad essere viste ,innanzi tutto, come dei bei libri, e solo dopo come libri tradotti.. E non vice versa.


In recent months there have been several encouraging signals from the publishing industry with regard to translations.

The most important event in the USA is BookExpo America and it’s held every year around the end of May: its Global Market Forum is always carefully followed by experts in the field and professionals looking for the latest trends. This year the forum focused on the topic of translation.

During a panel discussion (as reported in Publishing Perspectives), literary scout Maria Campbell said that “To get into English you have to participate in finding the right translator.” Indeed, as she explained in the PP article, the relationship between author and translator is key as the translator can make the difference between a book that first finds a publisher and then a following, and an awkwardly worded story that doesn’t get read.

The fact that BookExpo America put the spotlight on translation is promising as it may help the publishing industry open up more to the wealth and innovation of literature – both fiction and nonfiction – available from outside North America, as well as lead to greater interest in books in translation on the part of readers.

Fortunately the opening toward translation is not limited to just the North American market. An article entitled ‘British Readers Lost in Translations as Foreign Literature Sales Boom’ appeared in The Observer the end of August. The lead sentence reads, “British readers are devouring foreign fiction in record numbers amid a mini-boom in translated novels, inspired by the success of Scandinavian authors such as Jo Nesbø.” What’s interesting is that agents, editors and booksellers are enthusiastic about the titles in translation that are selling thousands of books, not just the million-copy blockbusters. Finally these books are beginning to be seen first as great books and, second, as translations. And not the other way around.

Women’s Fiction Festival 2013

Sono appena tornata dal Women’s Fiction Festival a Matera: un occasione per incontrare scrittori, agenti letterari, editori, altri traduttori e tante persone che girano intorno alla parola scritta. Questo è stato il secondo anno di seguito che partecipo al Festival e l’esperienza è sempre superlativa.

Un evento del genere è uno dei modi migliori per crescere e evolvere in questo campo e può lanciare la propria carriera. Ovvio, non è una scorciatoia ma può essere una sorte di gran raccordo, che offre anche un bel paesaggio da godere durante il viaggio.

Una parte importante del Festival è l’opportunità di incontrarsi, tu per tu, con gli editori e agenti, quest’anno dal USA, Inghilterra, Italia, Germania e Francia. Durante questi incontri di 10 minuti ciascuno, gli autori hanno la possibilità di proporre il proprio lavoro.  Se l’agente o l’editore lo ritiene interessante, chiedono generalmente di inviare per e-mail del materiale, che di solito significa una sinossi o proposta , nel caso della saggistica, e l’inizio del lavoro, da qualche pagina fino a 50 pagine. Nel caso degli editori e agenti di lingua inglese, accettano esclusivamente materiale nella loro lingua. Solo così possono valutare se la storia o l’argomento, lo stile e la voce siano adatti ai loro lettori.

Quindi, una traduzione accurata è essenziale. Se il testo è destinato al mercato americano, ci vuole un traduttore nord americano, mentre se puntate ad un editore britannico ci vuole il traduttore adeguato. Non è questo il momento di affidarsi ciecamente al traduttore online o l’amico che ha fatto uno stage a Londra l’anno scorso!  Almeno fattelo revisionare da un professionista di madrelingua.  Se volete essere preso sul serio e che il vostro lavoro viene considerato a pari livello, assicuratevi che il vostro “biglietto da visita” sia più vicino al perfetto possibile.

Come ho scritto in altri post, l’editoria in lingua inglese sta apprendo lentamente verso autori da altri paesi, per non parlare del mondo del “self-publishing”. Non perdere queste opportunità!


I’ve just returned from the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy: an opportunity for writers, literary agents, editors, translators and others who revolve around the written word to come together. This has been my second year in a row at WFF and by now I’m addicted!

This sort of event is one of the best ways to grow and evolve as a writer and it can be the launching pad for your career. Of course it’s not a shortcut but it can be an efficient highway, offering beautiful countryside to admire along the way.

One important part of the Festival are the afternoon pitching sessions. This year there were editors and agents from the USA, UK, Italy, Germany and France. During the 10-minute slots authors have the opportunity to pitch their works directly and if the editor or agent is interested they generally ask to receive via email a synopsis or proposal (in the case of nonfiction) together with the first pages of the book, which can vary from a few pages up to as many as 50. When pitching to an editor or agent from a country different from your own, it is necessary to provide him/her with material in the appropriate language.

Therefore, a carefully written translation is essential. This is not the time to blindly trust something spit out by an online translator or your best friend’s boyfriend who spent a semester abroad! At the very least, get a native speaker who works with the written word to revise it for you. Only in this way can you be taken seriously as a writer and have your work considered on an even level.

The world of publishing is undergoing enormous changes, both in traditional circles and with regard to self-publishing. Don’t miss the opportunities!

il sogno di tutti/every author’s dream

Il dialogo sui libri in traduzione continua!

La rivista online Publishing Perspectives ha recentemente pubblicato in prima pagina un articolo e un sondaggio per parlare di formule economiche creative per rendere più fattibile la traduzione di libri. Secondo l’autore del articolo, alla base del limitato numero di traduzioni attualmente disponibile in inglese sta l’elemento economico.  Poche editori leggono sufficientemente bene in altre lingue per poter valutare in lingua originale nuovi titoli, e quindi devono contare su un lettore di fiducia (e pagarlo) per una sua valutazione; per un autore che vuole proporre la sua opera ad un agente o editore all’estero, deve essere tradotto in inglese generalmente a spese sue. Quindi, per superare questi ostacoli, servono nuove formule e elasticità mentale.

Per distribuire meglio il rischio economico, ci possono essere modifiche alle percentuali di anticipo e diritti d’autore per il traduttore, niente anticipo al traduttore e pagamento solo come diritti d’autore, più risalto al nome del traduttore e meno remunerazione, o la creazione di una collaborazione tra casa editrice domestica, casa editrice estera, autore e traduttore. In ogni caso, serve disponibilità a provare cose nuove.

Attualmente, sto sperimentando con successo formule diverse per le percentuale di anticipo e diritti d’autore. Così, l’investimento è diviso fra l’autore e il traduttore, e anche la soddisfazione economica. Nel caso di autori esordienti, questa soluzione offre la possibilità di far arrivare il proprio manoscritto davanti agli occhi degli editor all’estero … praticamente il sogno di tutti.

Continuing dialog about books in translation!

The online magazine Publishing Perspectives has recently featured an article and survey regarding creative financial models to encourage a greater presence of books in translation. According to the author of the article, economics is at the base of the limited number of foreign books available in English. Few editors can read other languages sufficiently in order to evaluate new titles in their original form and thus they have to rely on (and pay) a trusted reader for an evaluation; for an author to propose his/her manuscript to a foreign agent or editor it must be translated into their language, and generally at the author’s expense. New models and mental flexibility are needed to overcome these obstacles.  

In order to spread the financial risk, there are various possibilities: a reworking of the percentages of the translator’s advance fee,  publisher’s advance and royalties, no advance fee for the translator who is then paid only through royalties, shared authorship with the translator in exchange for advance fee, or partnerships between the domestic publisher, foreign publisher, author and translator. No matter how you slice it, we need greater open-mindedness.

Currently I’m trying out new formulas with regard to advance fees and royalties, and finding good success. In this way, the author and translator share the investment, and also share the financial rewards. This is an ideal solution for new authors as it offers the possibility of getting their manuscripts into the hands of agents and editors… essentially every author’s dream.

novità incoraggianti / encouraging news

Alcune novità incoraggianti sottolineano l’interesse crescente nel mondo dell’editoria in opere di traduzione.

Per esempio,  BookExpo America, uno dei più importanti eventi annuali per l’editoria, ha annunciato che presenterà un summit  come parte del 2014 Global Market Forum del titolo “Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word”. Sarà un’occasione per esaminare come la globalizzazione e l’era digitale possano offrire nuove opportunità per autori, agenti, editori e traduttori. Questo summit è un passo importante per attirare l’attenzione a questo settore in espansione.

L’articolo “Seeking More Respect for Translators and What They Do” parla del blog Authors & Translators. Il blog, curato dalla traduttrice Cristina Vezzaro, offre uno sguardo, attraverso delle interviste, al importante e stretto legame tra autore e traduttore.  Diversamente da tante altre professioni, quando un traduttore fa suo lavoro bene diventa pressoché invisibile. Ma questo non vuol dire che sia un lavoro semplice… tutt’altro!

Inoltre, al Women’s Fiction Festival a Matera la 10° edizione comprenderà una sessione sul “The Art of Translation”, insieme ad un “angolo del traduttore” dove autori possono parlare direttamente con Athina Papa, traduttrice, per avere dei consigli.

Questi sono solo tre esempi, ma sono indicazioni del cambiamento verso le traduzioni letterarie e di come le possibilità sono in crescita per autori, traduttori e, in fine, per i lettori.

Recently, several encouraging items have come to my attention that underline a growing interest within the publishing world with regard to literary translations.

For example, BookExpo America, one of the most important annual events in publishing, has announced that they will include in the 2014 Global Market Forum a summit entitled Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word”. The summit will be an opportunity to examine how globalization and the digital era can offer new opportunities for authors, agents, publishers and translators. It promises to be an important step toward drawing attention to this expanding sector.

An article published on the online magazine Publishing Perspectives speaks about a relatively new blog called Authors & Translators. The blog, written by Cristina Vezzaro, presents interviews as a window onto the important and very close relationship between authors and translators. There are few  professions that are nearly invisible when done extremely well. However, this lack of visibility does not mean that it is a simple job… not by a long shot!

In addition, the 10th edition of the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera Italy will include a session entitled “The Art of Translation”, along with a “translator corner” where authors can exchange ideas and get advice from experienced translator Athina Papa.

These are only three examples, but they are signs of changing attitudes toward literary translations and how there are growing possibilities for authors, translators and, in the end, for readers.