Translate Your Book to Reach More Readers

Thursday, March 07, 2024

If you’ve already found success selling your self-published book and are looking for a wider market, you may want to think about translating your book so that as many readers as possible can enjoy it. Less than 20% of the world speaks English, so by translating your work into another language, you can potentially reach hundreds of thousands of new readers. 

Before you pick which language to translate into, there are several things to consider. In what language will your book do best? Are some of your characters from a place that speaks a different language than that in which your book is written? Maybe you, as the author, have a multilingual heritage. It makes sense to have your book in the language of those who might relate to your work or find it useful. Having some familiarity with the language will also make the translation process easier.

If there’s nothing that connects with a particular language, you'll need to do some market research to discover where other books like yours are flourishing. You should have performed market research when you first published, and you can do that again for other areas of the world:

  • See if you’ve already sold books in regions that speak other languages.
  • Search for which genres are popular in different countries.
  • Start small by writing a blog article in another language and see what kind of response you get.
  • Use Google Analytics or similar software to track where users are coming from and what their engagement is.

Read the Complete Guide: How to Self-Publish a Book


You also need to consider how you plan to market your book in the areas that speak that language. You could write your own ad copy and have it translated for a fairly low price. Translating a simple, direct message is a much simpler process than an entire book, so online translation services can be used reliably for ads. You can also run ads on Amazon in other languages by making a Sponsored Brands campaign and then selecting the option for Amazon to translate your campaign. Facebook also has automatic language translation for ads. 

Once you’ve decided into which language you want to translate your book, you have the task of finding a reputable translator who won’t break the bank. You’re putting a lot of trust in your translator, so you must choose carefully. Before signing anything, ask the translator what they’ve worked on before, whether or not they’ve translated works of a similar style to yours, and if they have samples of their work. If they’ve only dealt with  fiction and your book is nonfiction, it will likely not be a good fit.

The other option is a translation agency. Be sure to ask them if you'll have the full rights to the translation, the timeline for completion—and if that's guaranteed, how much you'll be able to work on it together—and if you'll be given a chance to provide feedback. You must set your conditions carefully so that it's clear who has rights to what, and whether payment will be a one-time fee to translate or some form of profit-sharing. 

A word of warning: a number of platforms are often discussed as easy solutions for self-publishers wanting to translate their books—however, many indie authors find themselves dissatisfied with the process as well as the quality of the translation. If you don't produce a faithful translation, then your time and money are wasted. If necessary,  you can use an online service to double-check a translator's work, especially for smaller sections. That will allow you to see if they are getting those parts right and better discern if you want them to translate your entire book. In the end, however, the best way to know if there’s a problem is reading the reviews after it’s published.

Having your book published in another language is an exciting prospect, but one only to be undertaken after your book is selling well in your current market, and after you’ve done your due diligence in finding the right language and the right translator. Then,  after all of your hard work, you can see a whole new audience embrace your book.

IngramSpark Staff

IngramSpark® is an award-winning independent publishing platform, offering indie authors and publishers the ability to create, manage, and globally distribute print and ebooks.