Translators, Self-published books and ZOMBIES!

Amrit Sharma *

During the American Translators Conference (ATA) conference in San Antonio, Texas, Rafa Lombardino shared her experiences in a dynamic niche within the translation industry: the translation of books published by authors themselves. Rafa's talk, titled "Translators and Self-Published Authors: A Partnership for the New Digital Publishing Age," was really fascinating and stood out as a highlight of the event. It's been several weeks since the conference, but I still remember a lot of things that I learned from her.

She is not only an experienced translator who understands this niche really well, but her passion is contagious. She talked about the growing world of translating books written by self-published authors, sharing various websites that are critical for any translator who wants to translate books, including AmazonCrossing―which makes "stories cross borders" by connecting freelance translators to authors―and BabelCube―a platform that manages connections between translators and self-published authors, as well as royalty fees.

Rafa loves zombies―who doesn't!?―and she has been able to translate a couple of zombie-themed books. I loved listening to her stories about each project she completed and I really enjoyed hearing about her own interactions with self-published authors. She shared how she contacted them, how they discussed royalties and negotiated payments, several marketing details, and so on. In one case, an author even gave Rafa the full permission to translate, publish, market and sell translated books based on his body of work, and keep 100% of the revenue as the translator.

It was a lot of fun watching Rafa teach and entertain the room. As I said, her talk was a highlight of the ATA conference, and if you ever have the opportunity to hear her talk about self-published authors (and zombies), I'm pretty sure you will walk away wiser and happier!


AMRIT SHARMA is an entrepreneur and Founder of "Marketing for Translators," based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Amrit believes that websites shouldn't cost thousands of dollars. He helps freelance translators stand out in crowded language-pairs and grow their translation business.