Not many updates these days…


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… and for a good reason: I’ve been drowning in work during the last few months. Which is good for me, since I’m a freelancer, although it doesn’t leave me much time to update the blog. I’m planning to do a little renovation sooner or later, though, so stay tuned. 🙂

In the meantime, I want to brag about the latest writer who chose to work with me: the amazing, astonishing, incredible and uncanny Glynnis Campbell. Not only a great romance writer, but one of the funniest persons I ever had the pleasure to deal with. 🙂

Behind the Cost: Why Are Translations So Expensive?


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When I read on the Internet about translations, the words “hefty sums”, “expensive” and synonyms pop up quite often. While it’s true that the price of translations may look high (and some of them are, indeed, overpriced), there are reasons behind every translator’s fees. I understand, however, that not everyone might know what these reasons are, so I decided to write this post in order to give you an idea.

The first – and most important – factor behind a translation’s price is time. A translator has to work for weeks, maybe months to turn your manuscript into another language, and during that time they have to keep the lights on, the house warm and the dogs fed (tip: you don’t want to be in the same house with a hungry Springer Spaniel. They are noisy little buggers). Normally, translators don’t charge by the hour, simply because we have no way to prove to the client how many hours we spent on a project. But time is definitely a factor when we have to determine our price for a translation.

Woe to those who fail to feed the Beast

Woe to those who fail to feed the Beast

Then there are expenses. Yes, translators have expenses. For example, I employ a proofreader to make sure that everything I produce is up to the highest publishing standards; her services alone cost me about 25% of what I charge. Then there’s translation software and its updates, the cost of continuing education, and so on. It’s easy to forget how much money one has to spend in order to be able to perform their job properly. That, in turn, is reflected on what a translator charges. Chances are the little money will get you little quality.

Finally, don’t forget that translators are self-employed, meaning that all the money we earn from our work still has to be taxed. Depending on where in the world a translator lives, taxes can eat a substantial amount of their income, and what remains has to be enough to justify the time spent translating. Otherwise, our activity risks to shift from a laborious job to a laborious hobby, and we can’t afford that.

I hope I managed to help you understand why a translator has to charge certain amounts of money for their work. There may be other reasons, of course, but generally speaking, time, expenses and taxes are the three main reasons behind a translator’s rates.

Happy New Year!


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2015 is coming to an end, but work never stops at Indie Book Translations! This year has been a prolific one, with 15 novels translated (you can see the twelve that have already been published, along with all my previous translations, here). All of them received good reviews, which is always pleasant for a translator 🙂 I also got the opportunity to meet some new authors, including the amazing Ripley Patton and Suzan Tisdale, who have joined Amber Kell in the list of people who tolerate my humor. Yes, this has been a good year.

But, as I said, work never stops. There will be plenty more books coming in 2016, with possibly some new names on the covers. In the meantime, I updated the “Translations Made Easier” page with some more accurate cost estimations and gave it a bit of much needed polish. You may want to give it a read 🙂

Happy New Year, folks! I’ll see you in 2016.

Another New Author! (this is getting repetitive, I know)


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Great news! My translation of A Song for Julia by Charles Sheehan-Miles is now available to the Italian public. Here’s another indie author who found a new market for their work thanks to a translation. 🙂



I had a great time working with Charles. He writes great novels and he’s an amazing person to deal with. I will definitely work on more of his books.


A New Author and a New Page


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The good news: I’m working with a new indie author! My Italian translation of Ghost Hand by Ripley Patton has recently hit’s ebook store. Working on Ripley’s first novel was great. I’m currently finishing the translation of the second book in the series, Ghost Hold, which I expect to be published in a couple more months.


The public service announcement: I created a new page for my portfolio. You can find it here. All my published work is summed up on this page, and every picture links to the book’s page on Anyone who wants to know with whom I worked, and on which books, can look on that page and know everything about my past projects 🙂

The Translation Diaries, Episode 4: It Won’t Fit



One could think that a translator’s greatest enemy would be conjunctivitis. Or back pain. Or perhaps diabetes, since we work long hours sitting behind a desk and never get enough exercise. While all of these are huge threats to our health, they pale in front of the one who has given many a translator insomnia, hypertension and lack of appetite: the title that won’t fit on the cover.

You see, not all languages were made equal. Some tend to have longer words and sentences. While “longer” doesn’t necessarily mean “worse” in the age of the e-book, when it comes to words that have to go on a book’s cover, there are still lots of tears to be shed.

Suppose that you wrote a historical romance titled “In Shiny Armor” (I don’t know if such a book actually exists. I just made the title up. If it’s a real book, I apologize with the author). The closest translation I can think of would be Armatura scintillante (I’m dropping the preposition because it would just look too weird inside an Italian title, and because my job is already complicated as is). The problem with that? It goes from the original 14 characters, spaces included, to 21. That’s 50% longer! To make things worse, twelve of those character belong to a single word, which you obviously cannot break on a book cover. To avoid the cover designer’s wrath, I would have to come up with an alternative title that both reflects the book’s content and is short enough to fit on the cover.

“Wait, what do you mean an alternative title? You want to change the title of my book? I’ll die before that!” Please don’t. I may not know you, but I certainly want you to stay alive. And if you want to bless more readers with your wonderful book, you need a title that doesn’t need to be size 10 in order to fit on the cover. That means the Italian edition of your book will have a different title than the English one. It’s not a big deal. It happens all the time, both in traditional publishing and with self-published books.

Back to our example! To find a good title, I would carefully study the original. Is it a quote from one of the characters? Is it symbolic? Is it open to different interpretations?By answering those questions and more, I can come up with some solutions to submit to the author, who will them choose the one she thinks better.

Let’s say that the “shiny armor” of our imaginary title is the one don by your heroine to fight without being recognized as a woman. In this case, the fact that the armor is shiny is less important than the fact that it protects her from both harm and public shaming. Considering that, I would make suggestions like these:

  • Corazza (literally “cuirass”): this one is fairly literal. It puts the garment, with all its symbolism, at the center of the attention (and probably of the cover too), emphasizing its protective value. It loses the “shiny” part, but we are presuming that it wasn’t important in the first place.
  • Senza paura (literally “without fear”): this one plays on the fact that “cavaliere senza macchia e senza paura” is the Italian equivalent of “a knight in shiny armor”. The armor itself isn’t mentioned, but the symbolism is there.
  • Dietro l’elmo (literally “behind the helm”): this one is the furthest from the original title, but it’s worth mentioning because it sounds like “behind the mask,” both in English and Italian, and refers to the helm behind which the heroine conceals her identity. An advantage in working with a translator to produce a new title is that the author gets to see her novel from different angles, as the translator proposes titles that, in his opinion, sum up the book’s content and are captivating at the same time.

All these titles are appropriate (at least, I think they are), and they are all 14 characters or less. The author may choose the one she likes the most, and everyone will be happy. Including the cover designer.



Do you want to know more about the world of translations? Are you the author of a book titled “In Shiny Armor” and want to make an Italian edition of it? Contact me, and don’t forget to look at my Translations Made Easier page.



The Importance of an Advance



A few days ago, a potential client contacted me with a job proposal. We met on Skype and talked for a while. We agreed on the rates, the method of payment… everything seemed perfect. Until I told them that, like many translators, I normally ask for an advance before starting on a new project. Their reply was that, although they understood my position, the company’s policy wouldn’t allow that. I would had to wait up to 30 days after the completion of the project before being paid.

Despite everything else being alright, I was forced to turn the client down.

There are several reasons for which I, and most other translators, ask for an advance. The first one is merely financial: a translation takes time, usually a lot of it. In the case of the job offer I’m talking about, the documents I was supposed to work on totaled about 80,000 words in length; that would translate into 20 days of work spent exclusively on the client’s project, during which I would be unable to accept other jobs. Then I was supposed to wait 30 more days before I saw any money. You can see why this isn’t much feasible.

An advance is also the guarantee, or at least a promise, that the client will pay for the job in full. The translator is most often the weakest part in the deal, especially when they are working for people from the other side of the planet. Paying an advance shows commitment on the client’s side, and if they end up trying to cheat the translator, finding excuses to not pay or to pay late… well, at least the freelancer got something for their work.

I talked a lot about advances from the client’s point of view, but I thought it would be useful to explain what an advance means for us translators. We do not ask for advances because we are greedy or desperate for money: they are a way to protect ourselves from non-payers and to make sure we have a little money in our pockets in case we have an emergency. The client, in turn, can spread the payment over two or more installments, alleviating the burden on their finances. As usual, this is a kind of deal that, when done right, benefits both parties.

Do you have any questions about the work of independent translators? Perhaps are you looking for one to translate your book into Italian? 🙂 Contact me and tell me everything.

“How Long Will It Take?”



As I explained in a previous post, you should aways specify a deadline in your translation contracts. Having a deadline will motivate the translator and, more importantly, should guarantee the delivery of your translated manuscript. That said, how much time should you agree upon? The answer depends on whether you’re in a hurry or not.

If you don’t need the book delivered before a specific date (ie. around Christmas), you may set a distant deadline. I would suggest one day per 1,000 words as a reasonable compromise: this will give even a slow translator plenty of time to work on the manuscript and edit their draft. This would mean giving your translator 50 days to translate, review and deliver a 50,000 words novel. You can agree to a different amount of time, but don’t make it too lax: a deadline that’s many months away is equivalent to “eventually”. Be decisive.

If you need your book translated before a certain date (again, it may be December 23 or around that)… well, that depends on how reasonable you’re being. I’m going to use myself as an example, because everyone I worked with considered me quite fast. I routinely do 5,000 to 6,000 words per day, so I can complete the first draft of the translation of that 50,000 words novel in 10 days (hey, I need a day off every once in a while). My proofreader would then need about 10 more (she reads and edits all my drafts three times – yes, she’s amazing). Then there’s the beta-reading phase, which could take from 2 to 10 days, depending on how much my wife likes your book. Give me a few extra days for the finishing touches, and let’s call it 30 days for the translation of a 50,000 words novel. If we sign the contract a month before you need the book on your hard drive, it will happen. I can work faster if you absolutely need it, but I may be forced to apply an extra fee for the urgency, since all the extra time I would be spending working would be subtracted to my family and my personal life.

Other people might be slower, or they might work faster but sacrifice quality; take this into account before trying to coax your translator into working much faster than they usually do. A bad translation released at the right time might be worse, for the author’s reputation overseas, than a good translation that comes out slightly late.

Translations take time, and time is usually synonymous with quality. However, infinite time is almost never synonymous with infinite quality, so unless you truly have no interest in seeing your novel translated before your newborn baby begins college, set a deadline.

Are you an independent author who wants to know more about the world of translations? Are you interested in exploring new markets? Or maybe you simply want to say “Hi”? Go to my Contact page and send me a message.