Friday, 2 May 2014

Ross Ufberg's Excellent Idea

Ridiculously attractive new American publisher Ross Ufberg (or maybe he's hiding something under that hat) details a very good idea in Publishing Perspectives: a place on the internet where translators could share projects they're investing time in, and publishers could pick up on projects they'd like to invest money in. He points out that there are so many publishers out there who may not be aware of amazing books not available in English, and so many translators passionate about those very books, and asks how they might come together.

Translators from German are fairly well connected to each other, but I still can't count the number of times when two or more people have gone bananas over the exact same book and even translated the whole thing on spec, only to find out there are others feeling the same way. It's not a nice experience.

I don't know how to build a website of the kind Ufberg suggests but I'd love to be part of it. One thing I'm not sure about, however – and I'm finding it hard to express the problem – is that I think some translators are all-rounders and some are better at translating certain kinds of writing than others, and some are set in their ways and some haven't yet managed to get as much practice as they'd need. So not every translator is ideally suited to work on every book. And as important as passion is in translating, the first person to bagsy a particular book might not be the best person for the job, if you see what I mean. As in, I personally might really love a fifteenth-century epic, but no way am I going to do the best job of translating it. So I would worry that a site like (don't bother checking, it doesn't exist) might raise unrealistic expectations. But it would still be a giant step for translatorkind.

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