As a mid-week treat, I’m sharing a great guest post/Q&A featuring the lovely Sara Colombo: translator, interpreter and blogger at Balance your words.
Sara has recently produced her own ebook about starting out in translation, which is something that could be of interest to many of us looking to diversify. I was keen to find out more about the process, so I asked Sara to take us through her experience via the following questions:
• How did you come up with the idea? Why did you decide to write (and sell) a book?
There are a lot of great websites, manuals and publications out there. As a student, I used to read them avidly. As a young translator, however, I realised that all those words were very savvy, but not exactly realistic.
Experts talk about rates and business, and lecturers about tools and linguistics, but no one never told me about the difficulties of working from home, how to believe in myself, the pain caused by a harsh competitor – for the record: competitors are called this because they love to act nice publicly, but then steal your clients, if possible – or that maintaining a certain amount of balance would become a key feature of this life.
The path to become a translator is not fixed, and there aren’t strict rules, but some people out there like to believe that there is only one way, these are the tools and those are the things you should keep in mind. People like to look shiny, perfect and professional, rather than true and personal. I had other ideas and wanted to tell my story.
• How did you write it? I know that some of the material is from your blog, but what about the other sections? Did you have the book in mind when you were writing the blog posts?
Good question. Any plans for Christmas? It might take a while to answer :).
I write a lot, I am a writing obsessive-compulsive person: I just need to do it. So when I decided to write the book I didn’t know where to start from: blog, diary, notes, all of them?
The book I had in my mind was a professional diary: freelancing involves a lot of personal engagement and it is a life-changing choice. Besides, as translators, we are so attached to language that we work even when we are waiting for a bus and come across an interesting article or advertisement. Our entire lifestyle is involved in our job. And this is how the book had to be, in my mind. It had to tell my professional story, which is also linked to my personal growth.
So, in the end, I decided that including some private articles and notes from my diary was a good way to tell people how I really felt about my job, and mixed all the material to create something professional but also intimate.
• How did you set it out? Did you bring in someone to do the layout and design? If not, how did you do it?
Many authors ask for a professional to edit the layout and create something rocking. My dad was a photographer and I was raised in a very arty environment: I like to take pictures, collect designs and read magazines to find inspiration. So, I wanted the cover to be personal and decided to dig out a funky and fun pic that could do the magic. The result: no designer, but one nice and high resolution picture I took with my iPhone.
• How did you set it up to sell? How would someone put a book on Amazon (or another site) and sell it?
Amazon offers many interesting publication services, including the possibility to control the status of your sales, market your texts and publish as many books as you want, all for free. Setting up details like prices and target markets is another useful feature of that website: you only have to do some field research and put a (virtual) price tag on your new book.
Once the file is ready (it takes about a week or two, depending on the language. English texts are published in 12-24 hours, while foreign texts need more time), the website adds the cover and you can create your book’s page.
The selling process is quite straightforward: publish a book and tell the world about it.
The book alone won’t bring you millions, unless you are the next J. C. Oates. I wrote a blog post, shared the good news with friends and social media, created a Facebook page, joined some forums and talked about that any time I could. Oh, did you know I have both printed and digital versions now?
Thanks so much, Sara!
Are you thinking about publishing an ebook? Do you have any further questions for Sara?
If you’ve already done so and have something to add, please leave a comment or get in touch with me directly.