The Intercontinental Indie Author

WestAfricaPt1-SpanishCover

When it comes to being an international indie author I like to do it from both ends.

The cover for the Spanish translation of Part One of my West Africa travelogue series, “West Africa Is My Back Yard, came in overnight. Now to format, upload and get it distributed around the world. But it already has more global credentials than you might expect.

Written right here in The Gambia in West Africa, it was translated into Spanish by a translator in Argentina in South America, and the cover was made by my regular designer in Indonesia in Asia. The English-language version has already seen sales as far apart as France, India and Brazil, but I’m looking forward to getting this title into multiple languages.

Most indies never give translations of their works a second thought because they believe

a) translations are unaffordable,

b) getting new covers in lots of different languages will require a second mortgage

c) no-one knows what ebooks are in the rest of the world, and

d) that the overseas markets are the exclusive preserve of the big-name authors with big-name publishers behind them.

Well, this particular book is pretty niche. A Spanish translation of a West Africa travelogue by a British ex-pat in one of the less-travelled parts of the world is hardly likely to set the charts on fire.

Is it worth an indie spending thousands on translators and hundreds on covers? For a proven bestseller, yes. For a niche title like this, no.

Which is where translator-partnerships and shoestring budgeting comes in.

I’ve covered the translation options before. (LINK)

For this title my Spanish-language translator in Argentina comes courtesy of Babelcube. No upfront costs.

And the cover cost me just five British pounds (about eight US dollars) from my Indonesian designer who plies his services on Fivesquid, the UK equivalent of Fiverr.

A few days ago I needed an update to another cover I’d first bought several years ago and paid $150 for. When I approached the designer she said it would cost me another fifty bucks to make the alteration and it would be a week before she would get to do it.

So I sent the cover to another designer I use on Fivesquid, in Romania, and the cover came back within four hours exactly as I wanted it, and cost me just a fiver.

Which is the same price I pay for all my translation covers and many of my originals now.

So far this month I’ve bought ten covers for my translated titles. At $100 a time that would have cost me a grand. At $50 a time that would have cost me $500.

Using the fiver sites I get ten covers for my translations for just $50.

As I do my own formatting that means each translation that goes live costs me just $5, and even a niche audience title like this one, aimed at a nascent market where ebook take-up is embryonic, can earn out in no time.

As I’ve said before (LINK) you can turn one title into six just by partnering with a translator and getting that title translated and selling in five different languages as well as English. One title becomes six without you writing an extra word.

Do that for two titles and those two titles become twelve.

Get five titles into five languages plus the English originals and your five title portfolio is suddenly a thirty title portfolio.

And somewhere down the road you’ll not only have new income streams but may just find yourself a truly international best-selling author.

It’s 2015, not 2009. The opportunities open to indies today are a world apart from just a few years ago when KDP launched and was only available in one country.

With two billion smartphones out there across the globe, each one capable of holding your ebooks, we have unprecedented reach and unprecedented opportunities.

Don’t let those opportunities pass you by.

Invest in the future, now.

Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

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3 responses to “The Intercontinental Indie Author

  1. Love your blog, Mark, and can relate to being miles from nowhere (Kaua`i here), yet perhaps more globally minded by not having a marketplace outside one’s door, or grass shack. I’ve got one contract with Babelcube, translation due in January, another about to sign, and another interested (Argentine, like yours). The Babelcube opportunity is exciting and fun, but I’m wondering whether I should take it slow or go crazy. Have you found it at all confusing keeping up with all your different translators, translations, due dates, and emails with questions about this and that? Also, is the submission of the translated text to Babelcube relatively easy, cover and text, or is there technical stuff to navigate? Any tips regarding selecting translators? There are some with great energy, but you wonder about their skill when their correspondences contain typos and messed-up English…

    I’m totally with you on viewing translations as a long-term play, but wondering if you’re seeing any action in the short-term? What is the method for authors to stoke the marketing of translations, or is it just wait-and-see?

    Sorry to pelt you with questions, and hope your global sales compound daily.

    With aloha,
    Wendy Raebeck
    I Did Inhale
    Some Swamis are Fat
    Expedition Karakima

  2. Another fabulous blog post, Mark. Deeply appreciative of your willingness to share your insights, experiences, and curiosity about the opportunities for internationalists in our indie writing community! Mahalo from San Diego! 🙂 LT

  3. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Multi-Lingual Publishing Anyone? 😃

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