Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 31, 2018

4 Tips for Engaging International Readers

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Shana Gray

My book Working Girl has been translated into five languages, with a sixth to come. First published in English, it’s now available in Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, with Dutch coming this April. It’s difficult to know how well the book has done in the different countries, but even a year later, my book is in the top 30 for the publishing house in Brazil!

That’s great, but how do you reach international readers, aside from your book just turning up on shelf or in Amazon or, as in Brazil, Skoob?

Tailor social media

As each new translation came out, I created a Facebook page for each language, with the exception of German. I was advised not to create a German page because translations are so much tougher and could give the wrong impression with any errors. And that was the last thing I wanted to do!

In my previous life as a marketing specialist, I was in charge of creating a whole new set of promotional brochures which needed to be translated into Portuguese and Spanish. I learned quickly how bad translations can be—especially if it’s technical or engineering base.

To communicate on these pages, I use Google to translate from English. Then I transfer back between the two languages to see if any huge oops has happened —and yes, I’ve had a few! Then I have to play with the words to get the correct message. It’s not easy to maintain integrity in translation, but I keep trying. I’ve been assured by others that the attempt to communicate in a foreign reader’s language is appreciated. So I hold on to that note.

One of the first readers I met when A Entrevista (as Working Girl was retitled in Portuguese) released in Brazil was an avid reader and bookseller—Flavio. Having a local contact has made a big difference. He’s helped me with translations, understanding what certain words meant, and correcting any mistakes.

Personalize Amazon pages

Amazon Author Central pages aren’t important only in the United States. I've created Amazon pages in the countries with translations as well.

I make sure I have my bio there (translated, of course) and a profile picture. By doing this, I hope that when a reader in that country goes to Amazon and finds my page, they feel a little more connected to me.

Earth globe with talking bubbles coming out from various places on the map

Include foreign language in your newsletter

For my newsletter, I try and have at least a few words in each language that Working Girl has been translated into. Just to show appreciation for those readers. It's kind of like when you go away on vacation and muddle through asking for a beer in Spanish. You get the smiles and the giggles, but they appreciate your attempt.

When I was in France last Spring, I was afraid to try and speak any French. But one a day when a couple of authors and I went out exploring I decided to speak a little more. And that led to more and more, and then I suddenly felt almost Parisian! Well, far from it, to be honest. But I did try and drew on what little I remembered of my high school French, and it gave me more confidence.

I’ve also learned that different cultures appreciate different things in the book. One loves a particular aspect, and the other not so much.

Always be genuine

Overall, trying to be genuine with foreign readers is the best thing. A foundation with these readers is important for when you have more books translated. It might be none, or just one now, but there could be more coming down the road.

It is a big wide world out there full of readers. And trying to communicate with those readers is obviously a challenge if you don't speak the language. I know there are some languages I could never even begin to try and learn or translate, like Korean. One of my Harlequin books was translated into Korean, and I was thrilled to get a copy.

But love and romance crosses all barriers! Even language. So cheers to our worldwide readers and writers!

How have you connected with international readers? Or with authors who speak a different language?

About Shana

Author Phot of Shana GrayWorking Girl Book CoverShana Gray is a hybrid author who was first published in 2010. She has written contemporary erotic romances for multiple publishers including Harlequin Blaze, Random House, and Headline and is also an indie author. Her stories range from scorching quickie length to longer full-length novels. She's the author of international top seller Working Girl, which has been translated into six languages. Shana's passion is to enjoy life! She lives in Ontario, but loves to travel and see the world, be with family and friends, and experience the beauty that surrounds us. Visit her online at shanagray.com.
Twitter @shanagray_
Facebook: Shana Gray

18 comments on “4 Tips for Engaging International Readers”

  1. Congratulations on your international success! I know firsthand how difficult it is to do well in other countries. As a literary translator, I was very disappointed to read that you used Google to translate your marketing brochures. While Google Translate is great for getting the gist of something, it is notoriously poor in missing nuances of what it is being translated. I'm sure if you ask your translators to help with the marketing, they would be more than happy to do so and it will cost you far less in the long run than a poorly translated brochure could.

    1. Lesly, how does one find solid literary translators and how much do they cost? Indie and hybrid authors often have to absorb those costs. I think Shana's solution is a creative first attempt, even if she hired a translator later to review.

      1. Finding a good translator is key, of course, for both the book and for help with marketing. Google searches often turn up qualified translators, but another great way to find them is to look in translated books of the same genre. Often the name of the translator will be listed on the cover or title page. A quick search will usually lead to their contact information.
        If the translator has a stake in the novel doing well either through royalties or a bonus if x number of copies are sold, they would be more than willing to help with the marketing translations. The price of a translation varies depending on royalties and turnaround time. I have been paid both a flat fee for the entire book and also a rate per page. Especially with self-published authors who have smaller budgets, I try to keep my fee as low as possible, but then ask for more in royalties, thus having a stake in it.

  2. Lesley, I didn't use google translate for the marketing brochure. I hired Spanish and Portuguese (it was their first language) professional translators. They made the first translation into the language and then we had the engineers in Brazil and Chile read the translations for correctness. It was quite a feat.

    For my FB pages, I use the google translate and recognize there could be issues. Some first speaking readers have come forward to help me finesse with more in depth translations.

    Good luck Laura with your future translations!

    So true Jenny!

  3. Shana,
    My apologies for misunderstanding you. I think that's a great solution. As I said, Google Translate is perfect for getting the gist of something, which is exactly what you want to do with FB. And you can respond to FB posts immediately using it, rather than having to wait for a translator. Good luck!

  4. Shana, my debut novel, releasing Feb 17th, has settings in Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia (as it used to be,) Greece, Egypt, London, and several cities and towns in Canada. I'd love to get into the international market, but first I need to see how my book does in English. Are you near Toronto by chance? I'll be there for 4 months in the summer and would love a chance to meet in person.

  5. My first book was published internationally in an anthology--several of the other authors were from other countries. I do have some international readers as a result.


  6. How wonderful. Before having kids I was an Indonesian Language teacher and I know how much making an effort in another language can be appreciated. I also know how bad, bad translations can be so it's great that you go to so much effort.

  7. […] https://writersinthestormblog.com/2018/01/4-tips-for-engaging-international-readers/ “As each new translation came out, I created a Facebook page for each language, with the exception of German. I was advised not to create a German page because translations are so much tougher and could give the wrong impression with any errors. And that was the last thing I wanted to do!” Have you done any translations? Has it been difficult? […]

  8. Dear Shana,

    I enjoyed your blog post for which I would like to thank you.

    Together with Henry J. Sienkiewicz, I wrote the book "Voor Elise", a historical novel in which his grandmother is the protagonist. She was born in Belgium in 1899 and emigrated to the US. It was issued in America, Belgium and the Netherlands.

    Since my English is limited, I initially used Google Translate, which didn't work well. Henry took care of the improvement and made it into a beautiful book.

    Meanwhile I have discovered the translation site DeepL. Originally in German but the quality is more than worthwhile compared to Google. I want to have another work translated by Deepl although in the final stage I will have it evaluated by a literary translation.

    I follow Writers in the Storm since 2015 and enjoy it very much,


  9. I went to Amazon to get a description of Working Girl. The book described under Working Girl written by you is Stephen Pinker's Enlightenment Now.

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