How to Increase Your Income as an Author (Without Writing Anything New)

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Editor’s note: I assume if you write for a living that you are interested in learning how to increase your income as an author? I mean, whether you write for love or money (or both), increasing your income allows you to spend more time writing or maybe carry on writing when you might have been forced to stop.
But what if you could increase your income as an author without writing another word? Well, this article outlines an often overlooked way of doing just that…

Whether it’s a novel, a work of non-fiction, or even an article, translation is a relatively low-cost way to increase income from your original content.

But how do you manage the translation process? How do you best exercise your intellectual property rights for foreign language publications?

As an author, you basically have three options when it comes to making more money from globalizing your original content:

  1. Work with a professional translation agency.
  2. Engage freelancers.
  3. Work with professional machine translation tools. 

So how do you work out which makes best sense for your particular project?

Know Your Rights

When your write a book, or create any original content, you become the owner of valuable intellectual property rights .

Among the most important rights you have is adapting your content to an additional format or, as we are considering here, translating your work into foreign languages.

If you are a well-established author, with agent representation or a powerful publishing house behind you, you can usually trust them to secure foreign language rights for your valuable content on your behalf.

If you lack such representatives, however, the burden falls on your shoulders.

Don’t panic! The process of translation is not rocket science. It can be learned, and this article will get you started. Even if you know only your mother tongue, there are plenty of translation services out there to assist you in the steps of translation.

Prepare Your Original to be Translated

But before we consider how best to work with a translation service, there’s something you need to do first: clean up your act!

You may be very reluctant to touch your original content, especially if it was created with much blood, sweat and tears. However, if you want to prepare it for professional translation, you need to face facts: your content is most likely not ready to be translated.

You see, the more clever and witty your content may be, the more you may need to dumb it down for translation. Because, chances are, your cleverness and sophistication will confuse your translator, whether expert linguist, freelancer, or AI-power algorithm.

You need to simplify your prose: luckily, there are some great online resources for trimming, massaging, and simplifying. As noted in this WritetoDone survey of writing tools, applications like Grammarly and Hemingway can advise you how to make your original content more readable, even for people who may not be as smart and sophisticated as you are.

In general, these apps help you adapt your writing for an audience with a reading level between the 8th and 10th grade. When translating to a foreign language, simple is beautiful. You also benefit in another way: shorter originals mean lower translation costs, because costs are often measured by the word count of the source.

Professional Translation Agencies

Whenever you are looking to translate a novel, non-fiction work or article into multiple languages, it’s usually a good idea to turn to a professional translation agency. A good rule of thumb is this: the more complex your challenge, the more attractive is the option of working with a team of professionals.

They have usually assembled teams of experienced linguists, available around the world and often around the clock, able to bring mother-tongue expertize to your task, taking responsibility for delivering your job on time and within the agreed budget.

The disadvantage of professional translation agencies? \Well, you’ll pay a premium for their services. Expect to pay between $0.10 and $0.25 per source word. Where in that range depends on the complexity of the material, the urgency of your delivery, and which specific language pair you need: English to Spanish or Spanish to English tend to be less expensive than more exotic language choices. Expect a free quote and timetable within 24 to 48 hours of your query.

Translating with Freelancers

An attractive option these days is to search for translators on freelance networks like Upwork or Freelancer. You post your job and freelancers send their bids. You can review their profiles, ratings, reviews, and portfolios.

You can ask questions about how they will approach your work, what experience they have, what their translation processes are. You can even ask them to translate just one page to try them out before committing the whole project to them. It’s also a good idea to engage two freelancers: one to do the actual translation and the other to proofread the result.

DIY: Machine Translation

These days, the quality of Neural Machine Translation (NMT) using tools like Google Translate or DeepL have reached the point that someone with a basic familiarity of the target language can use them to do a decent first cut translation.

Decent, of course, is not usually good enough, so it’s always a good idea to supplement the app with a freelancer hired to audit and improve the work of the application. As with freelancers, first translate a sample page or two of your original to see how the app performs.

Increase Your Income as an Author

In conclusion:

  • If you have the budget, working with a professional translation agency should be your go-to option, especially the first time around.
  • If you want to save 30-50%, consider working with one, or ideally two, freelancers, after vetting them.
  • And if you need to cut costs, consider a leading machine translation app, but hire a freelancer to check and correct the machine!

Have you increased your income as an author with translation rights? Let us know how it panned out for you in the comments below.


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About The Author

Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is CEO of Tomedes, a professional language services specializing in translation, localization, interpretation and transcription services.

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