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.
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?
Facebook: Shana Gray