At Frankfurt: AmazonCrossing's new $10 million translation bid

Business Club members at Frankfurt Book Fair. Image: #FBM15 Bernd Hartung
Business Club members at Frankfurt Book Fair. Image: #FBM15 Bernd Hartung

Interviewing Sarah Jane Gunter at Frankfurt Book Fair’s Business Club

This story was written for Wednesday’s (14th October) “Hug the Alien” session at Frankfurt Book Fair. 

In a move that answers a constant question both from independent authors and from publishers, AmazonCrossing has announced that it now is accepting submissions.

The news comes with word of a $10 million allocation of funding to the five-year-old imprint of Amazon Publishing, the international head of which, Sarah Jane Gunter, joins me at 3 p.m. CEST today, Wednesday (14th October), in Frankfurt for a “Hug the Alien” live interview at Book Fair’s Business Club in the foyer of Hall 4.

In addition, AmazonCrossing editors will accept submissions for translation consideration in person at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 14th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hall 3.0, K31.

Otherwise, instructions for submissions by Amazon account holders are at this link. The programme is entertaining submissions in these categories:

  • Fantasy
  • Historical Fiction
  • Literary Fiction
  • Memoir
  • Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Young Adult Fiction

The opening to submissions by AmazonCrossing is a big step. While the imprint has been known to select both traditionally and self-published work for translation (either into English from other languages or into other markets from English—as with authors J.A. Konrath, Barry Eisler, H.M. Ward and others), the inability for writers, in particular, to submit their work for consideration has been disappointing to them.

This new initiative addresses that issue and enhances what is fast becoming the most obvious success story of the Amazon Publishing house of imprints to date.

Since its inception in 2010, AmazonCrossing has published more than 200 translations by authors from 29 countries working in 19 languages.

AmazonCrossing logoQuietly developing this portfolio over the years, the imprint has become what US translation specialist Chad Post at Rochester University estimated in 2013 had become the leading American force in translation, passing the Dalkey Archive’s output figures.

In Stephen Heyman’s piece in The New York Times in April, Post pointed out that AmazonCros

sing’s selection of material for translation veers from the common emphasis on literary work in translation and includes a great many genre titles. When I asked Gunter about this at London Book Fair ahead of a BookExpo America interview with Chinese author Feng Tang, Gunter told me, “Hey, if they’re good stories, we like them.”

Today, as the company puts it in its announcement of the $10 million commitment:

AmazonCrossing is one of the largest publishers of translated literature in the United States, with 77 titles from 15 countries and 12 languages to be published in the United States in 2015.

The news release says the $10 million allocation “will go toward fees paid to translators over the next five years and increasing the countries and languages represented on the AmazonCrossing list.”

Translation and international expansion

Especially for independent authors, finding and affording good translation has become one of the biggest hurdles to expanding sales reach internationally.

Whether in traditional publishing settings or in independent work, high-quality translation is tricky to arrange and expensive to contract.

From Jane Friedman's presentation on translation at Novelists Inc.'s First Word, 1 October, St. Pete Beach
From Jane Friedman’s presentation on translation at Novelists Inc.’s First Word, 1 October, St. Pete Beach

According to Athina Papa, whose LiteraryTranslations company, which matches authors and translators, a standard translation of real quality will run some $10,000; her company is charging 12 cents per word, as she told my The Hot Sheet author-newsletter colleague Jane Friedman and me in Matera, Italy last month during the Matera Women’s Fiction Festival Writer’s Conference. Friedman then reported on our conversation with Papa and the status of translation for author’s consideration at the Novelists Inc. Conference First Word program in St. Pete Beach earlier this month. The accompanying graphic is from Friedman’s presentation.

But if anything, the stance of AmazonCrossing and its sister imprints of Amazon Publishing frequently confuses people who don’t realize that the “APub” imprints are operated in a largely traditional-publishing format, not at all as the self-publishing KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) platform is run.

There’s more to this story: Read the rest

By Porter Ander­son  

The FutureBook: At Frankfurt: AmazonCrossing’s new $10 million translation bid

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