Whenever I translate a book for a self-publisher from English into German, the project includes significantly more than mere translation, as would be done for a traditional publisher—I offer a complete service package. First of all, the author benefits: usually, authors do not have a strong command of German and have already experienced enough difficulties finding a translator for their books. With this package, authors do not have to wade through the Internet searching for an editor and proofreader. And secondly, I do it for my own benefit: I retain control over my copyright-protected work, meaning that that author can neither publish it without editing or proofreading, nor have it edited and/or corrected without leaving me the option of rejecting the changes.
So if I have received a self-published author’s order and we have agreed upon terms and conditions, then we memorialize everything contractually. I will adapt a template of such a contractual agreement to the current needs. Half the stipulated amount is always due immediately, and the second half after delivery of the completed translation.
And then, off we go! I will translate the complete book. To be honest, I usually do not read it cover-to-cover in advance, because in my experience, my motivation significantly declines if I know what will happen on the upcoming pages. For this process, I calculate about 2,000 words per working day, so for a book with about 300 pages, I will need around a month and a half. Then I work through my completed translation yet again, from beginning to end, meaning that I read through it and make adjustments—this process takes about two weeks. It’s important for translations for self-publishers that everything is translated, including the title, the blurb on the dust cover, the biography of the author, the imprint (Impressum) containing copyrights and liability disclaimers, etc.
Afterwards, I hand the completed translation over to an editor of my choice. This is where self-publishers have quite a considerable advantage in their work: I can pick and choose my own people. You can’t always work well with everyone: sometimes the style just doesn’t click. Editing 300 pages will take about a month, and then I work through all the changes. Sometimes I reject a few, but I accept most of them—after all, I chose the editor because he or she will actually optimize my text.
The next step is to pass the edited work to a proofreader of my choice. What for? Can’t editors do that, if they are already reading the text in any event? Or don’t editors know how to spell?
Yes, obviously they can, and they will have already corrected a number of mistakes. But editing and proofreading are two completely distinct activities. When I’m editing, I’m focusing on the flow of the text, on whether everything reads coherently. In doing that, the brain blanks out typographical errors, especially when the text is well written. On the other hand, when I’m proofreading, it’s often the case that at the end I have no idea what the text was about because I was focusing exclusively on the hunt for errors. I read letter for letter, without grasping the overall context of the text. And that is why proofreading is still necessary after editing.
Proofreading 300 pages will take two to three weeks.
When I’ve received the text from the proofreading, I look through all the changes again and accept or—rarely—reject them. Following that, the last round begins: formatting. If the book is appearing exclusively as an e-book, then I will do the formatting myself, simply because there isn’t anything magical about it:
- All chapter headings have to be identified as headings.
- The first lines of each paragraph are indented. I use 0.53 centimeters. Exception: the very first line of each chapter is not indented.
- I select line spacing 2, with a font size 12, in Times New Roman.
- Each chapter has to end with a page break (indent -> page break)
- Creating a table of contents (index -> table of contents)
- The Word data file is saved as “website, filtered.”
- This “website, filtered” is uploaded using Calibre.
- Author, title, and cover are entered, to be formatted on Mobi (or ePub)—finished!
- Then it is sent to your own Kindle (or other e-reader).
Following that, I unhurriedly read the complete work through on Kindle and eliminate any formatting errors that are, without doubt, still to be found, as well as the final typos.
Should the book be appearing in printed form, it makes sense that I should also take care of the formatting—while it’s true that I can’t do this myself, but in my network, I have people who can. And in any event, it’s advisable to have the formatting of the German text done by someone who is fluent in German, to avoid impairing reading pleasure with nothing but peculiar syllable breaks. Likewise, I take care of the cover, as needed—and in accordance with whatever kind of service desired by the author.
One way or another, the client will obtain an absolutely finished version that can be uploaded and offered for sale without any additional work.