Book translation 101 for Buyers

May 28, 2020 | Language Industry 101, Literature, Musings, Translation

book translation 101

In our previous Language Industry 101 posts we looked at what translation, revision, editing and proofreading are. While the general ideas are the same for all kinds of projects, there are some differences in how these tasks are approached depending on the project at hand.

As our Editorial Department primarily handles book translations, today we’ll tell you a bit more about how we deal with these kinds of projects and how we can help you make your book translation process seamless from text production to getting the publication ready for your printers.

Fiction or non-fiction, that is the question

Book translations can be divided into two main categories: fiction and non-fiction.

Although most of us would think of novels when we hear the word “fiction”, several other types of books can be listed under this term. Any story involving imaginary elements can be classified as fiction, such as theatre plays, film scripts, children’s story books and even comics.

“Non-fiction” is even a wider category, including all kinds of topics and genres, from cookery books, through museum guides and textbooks to coffee table books.

It’s essential for both fiction and non-fiction to read well, and they should be both enjoyable and engaging. In order to achieve this, we make sure to always select the best linguists at the very start and we keep in touch with you throughout the whole project, discussing any questions that might pop up.

The Dream Team

When we receive your request for a book translation, the first thing we do is think about who the best translator, editor and proofreader would be for your project. Who has the most comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter? Who has extensive experience with the type of publication? We even take our linguists’ hobbies and interests into consideration to get the best people for you. Having the right team assembled at the very beginning is the key to a high-quality translation. Once we have the best people lined up, the translation can start.

Keeping the reader in mind

A book – be it fiction or non-fiction – is successful if it never fails to keep the target audience in mind. And needless to say, this principle applies to translated books as well. Our team of translators, editors and proofreaders carefully consider the readers’ age, occupation (if it’s a specialised book), possible interests and culture to make sure that the final translation is suitable for the target audience. This means that the tone of voice and terminology are just as important as the translation of the words themselves. Cultural differences between the source and target languages could mean our translators might need to tweak certain things, change references in the text and take away or add things to ensure that the translated book is just as enjoyable and informative to their readers as it was in the original version.

Of course, we would never change anything without consulting with you first. If our linguists flag something up that might not be suitable for their language or culture, we get in touch with you right away explaining the matter and providing a possible solution for it.

As if it was written in the target language

The writing style in the case of a book translation is even more important than for other types of projects. The final text needs to flow exceptionally well, needs to be entertaining and natural, as if it was originally written in the target language.

This is why having a good team of translators, editors and proofreaders is essential for a book translation project. It is always recommended that any translation be checked by a second and even third person who look at it with a fresh pair of eyes and this is even more true for book translations when your publication will be available to readers for years to come.

Getting the layout right

As we have a large team of experienced typesetters and DTP specialists, we can also help you with preparing the files ready for print. The same way we find the best linguists for your project based on their background, we assign the best-suited typesetter to it, too. We select the right professional based on their experience with different types of publication and knowledge of the languages in question. Each language has its own traditions when it comes to the layout and our expert typesetters know that and so they might even make suggestions on how to best localise the book for the target market.


We hope this answers your initial questions regarding book translation, but if you still have some burning queries or would like to discuss how we can work together, please don’t hesitate to email us at