Re: RARA-AVIS: Foreign HB novels

Date: 29 Jul 2002

On 7/30/2002, "Terrill Lankford" <> wrote:

> wrote:
>> Have you really tried pricing competent to damn good translators
>> As a gaijin living in Japan who only has a child's command of
>> I consider myself lucky when I end up paying about $400 US per 10
>> spaced pages. I also know from first hand experience, when proofing
>> translations from Japanese to English, I get $10/page. So sit down
>> think about the costs in a 400+ page novel...
>All I know about this is the fact that foreign publishers pay pretty darn
>for American authors' books. In my own experience my advances from both
>and France were only about 1/3 lower than my U.S. advance and THEY had to
>someone to translate the books into their native language on top of what
>paid me. My second book, ANGRY MOON, is being released in Japan this
>Considering the numbers you're throwing out there, I'd rather have been
>translator than the author, but they still paid the author very well. The
>that U.S. publishers couldn't afford to do translations is just silly. I
>it is more a matter of cowardice and laziness than anything else. And I
>they're missing a good bet.

I am not necessarily saying they can't afford to do it, put it won't be cheap and it is not as cheap as some folks make it sound. And that price will be passed on. (When I am at home, I'll have to dig around and compare prices on some of these books).

you also have a risk factor---some of these authors, while genre afficianados will love, won't easily be translatable to a more general market, and might actually turn a lot of genre afficiannados off. While not hard-boiled, Haruki Murakami comes to my mind---a very distinctive type of magical realism that often turns off magical realist fans. And then there is my complaint about a lot of Japanese fiction I read in translation---great mood and setting, but where the hell is the plot???

In the case of Japan, I think you have an exceptional market for books though. With about half the population living in the Tokyo-Osaka strip, and most of those folks having anywhere from a 30 minute to 1 hr. train ride one-way to work, you have a very captive market for reading materials. But having said this, the publishers here are tightening up and cutting back on offerings (both Japanese and from translation).

best, MEH

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