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What do you think about babelcube? (Part 2)
מפרסם התגובה: Juliano Martins

Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei  Identity Verified
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Local time: 23:36
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Thanks for the update Aug 4, 2015

Please keep us posted.

 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
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Local time: 01:36
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Any developments? Oct 15, 2015

In terms of royalty payments?

 

Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
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Local time: 20:36
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First payment Oct 15, 2015

Hi everyone,

Finally, I have received the first royalty payment this month. The total was 89.92 USD related to the months of May and June (I had finished just one book back then).

I must confess that I am very much disappointed. I have translated 4 books so far (234 thousand words altogether). The 1st one sold 1402 copies (many of which were free downloads due to two 4-day promotions by the author). The 2nd, 3rd and 4th books sold nothing so far (but their were publishe
... See more
Hi everyone,

Finally, I have received the first royalty payment this month. The total was 89.92 USD related to the months of May and June (I had finished just one book back then).

I must confess that I am very much disappointed. I have translated 4 books so far (234 thousand words altogether). The 1st one sold 1402 copies (many of which were free downloads due to two 4-day promotions by the author). The 2nd, 3rd and 4th books sold nothing so far (but their were published only this month, so it’s still early to talk about them).

I don’t have any hopes for books 1, 2 and 3. I only have big expectations for book 4, which is a bestseller (Sworn to Raise, by Terah Edun, and it’s a series, and I am doing the second book of the series now).

Basically, I have only gained experience in literature translation. It has been an exercise, anyway. I have decided to do only bestsellers from now on, and only if I see good results for Sworn to Raise.

Meanwhile I have been working as usual for my clients and earned around 5K USD per month.
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LegalTranslatr2  Identity Verified
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That's too bad about Oct 15, 2015

Babelcube. I still get requests from them and it really looks like a great program, but unfortunately it doesn't pay and I think that if they paid translators an advance royalty, very few authors would be willing to make the investment.

Congratulations on the 5K a month. I've never earned that much in 22 years and I've had virtually no work at all for the past four months (total of under $600 in four months), so you're doing better than I am.

Juliano Martins wrote:



[Edited at 2015-10-15 14:03 GMT]


Tom in London
 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
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Local time: 16:36
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For what it's worth Oct 15, 2015

Last week I returned two Babelcube translated Kindle books to Amazon for a refund because they were translated so poorly.

 

LegalTranslatr2  Identity Verified
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In addition to using machine translation.... Oct 15, 2015

.... a lot of the ebooks are plagiarized from sites where people post free amateur fiction. In other words, they don't write the original and they don't pay for the translation: http://thehustle.co/part-2-confessions-from-the-scammy-underground-world-of-kindle-ebooks

Once they have the translation (provided to them for free) of the pla
... See more
.... a lot of the ebooks are plagiarized from sites where people post free amateur fiction. In other words, they don't write the original and they don't pay for the translation: http://thehustle.co/part-2-confessions-from-the-scammy-underground-world-of-kindle-ebooks

Once they have the translation (provided to them for free) of the plagiarized work, they can delete the original and no one will ever know (unless the author happens to read the language).

If they get caught, they are out nothing.

Michele Fauble wrote:

Last week I returned two Babelcube translated Kindle books to Amazon for a refund because they were translated so poorly.


[Edited at 2015-10-15 18:38 GMT]
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LegalTranslatr2  Identity Verified
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Even the "best sellers" could be plagiarized works: Oct 15, 2015

http://thehustle.co/part-2-confessions-from-the-scammy-underground-world-of-kindle-ebooks

"...I’m not a great writer. I’m also out of touch with my emotional side. Yet somehow I’m a #1 best-selling Kindle author who, in 5 days, sold over 1,800 copies of a romance novel that took me only 1 week to create.

So how did I
... See more
http://thehustle.co/part-2-confessions-from-the-scammy-underground-world-of-kindle-ebooks

"...I’m not a great writer. I’m also out of touch with my emotional side. Yet somehow I’m a #1 best-selling Kindle author who, in 5 days, sold over 1,800 copies of a romance novel that took me only 1 week to create.

So how did I do it?

Maybe crafting love stories is the hidden gift I’ve taken 28 years to discover.

Or maybe it’s because I ripped off a free book that I found online, made up a middle-aged author from Ohio, and then played Amazon like a vintage banjo to become the #1 ranked book in not one, but two separate categories...."

Juliano Martins wrote:


I don’t have any hopes for books 1, 2 and 3. I only have big expectations for book 4, which is a bestseller (Sworn to Raise, by Terah Edun, and it’s a series, and I am doing the second book of the series now).

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Tom in London
 

Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei  Identity Verified
גאנה
Local time: 23:36
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Sorry to hear that Oct 16, 2015

Juliano Martins wrote:

Hi everyone,

Finally, I have received the first royalty payment this month. The total was 89.92 USD related to the months of May and June (I had finished just one book back then).

Wow, that's really disappointing. Not surprising, but disappointing nevertheless. I was interested in this venture in a completely non-ironic way, but with returns this low maybe Babelcube is best left to amateur translators trying to make a name for themselves rather than pros.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
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Local time: 01:36
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Surprised and sorry to hear it's that bad. Oct 16, 2015

Juliano, I'm sorry to hear it's that bad. I'm actually also surprised: I thought the site sounded like a bad idea, but even if the 1400 copies sold at an average of 1 USD, then I would have thought you would have at least ended up with 500+ USD. I did not think that it was some kind of "vanity publishing" scam for translators, but that now seems to be a real possibility.

Who knows what "New Yort Times and USA Today best-selling author" really means (a search of the NY Times produces
... See more
Juliano, I'm sorry to hear it's that bad. I'm actually also surprised: I thought the site sounded like a bad idea, but even if the 1400 copies sold at an average of 1 USD, then I would have thought you would have at least ended up with 500+ USD. I did not think that it was some kind of "vanity publishing" scam for translators, but that now seems to be a real possibility.

Who knows what "New Yort Times and USA Today best-selling author" really means (a search of the NY Times produces zero hits for your author's name) and Jeff's very interesting article is illustrative. In fact, who knows what "sold copies" even really means in this context.

Aside from all that, I still think that self-publishing translations of self-published books on the basis of royalties might be an interesting market. Babelcube is a bad way to do it: It is expensive (in terms of lost profits), lacks transparency and places you in a strait-jacket in terms of actively seeking out projects that interest you and that you have good reason to think are commercially promising. Why not approach authors directly?

In my case, it has not been on a royalty basis, but I have made reasonably good money (around 0.13 or 0.14 EUR/ word and 0.18+ EUR/ word) on two sizeable (8500 EUR and 4000 EUR) translations of self-published non-fiction works. I would also be prepared to work through a royalty-based agreement, if I had very good reason to think that the book is commercially promising. That said, all of this requires very attractive qualifications in a subject-matter field (i.e. it requires a relevant USP) and the patience and security of simply accepting that the vast majority of your offers will be rejected.

So there are self-publishing opportunities out there that make sense, but working through a middle-man like Babelcube makes a difficult and risky situation even more difficult and essentially guarantees that you cannot "hit the jackpot", regardless of how successful the book becomes.
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
ספרד
Local time: 00:36
חבר (2007)
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You can be sure of one thing Oct 16, 2015

Michael Wetzel wrote:
there are self-publishing opportunities out there that make sense, but working through a middle-man like Babelcube makes a difficult and risky situation even more difficult and essentially guarantees that you cannot "hit the jackpot", regardless of how successful the book becomes.

Babelcube will be doing very nicely, thank you - at the expense of the author and translator.


 

Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
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Local time: 01:36
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Conclusion Oct 16, 2015

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

[Edited at 2015-10-16 09:18 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
הולנד
Local time: 01:36
חבר (2006)
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+ ...
Not convinced that Babelcube is a bad way to do it Oct 16, 2015

Michael Wetzel wrote:
I still think that self-publishing translations of self-published books on the basis of royalties might be an interesting market.


So do I.

Babelcube is a bad way to do it: It is expensive (in terms of lost profits)...


Why do you say that? Babelcube takes 15% of the profits. The translator gets 55% of the profits, for the first $2000 (thereafter the translator gets progressively less and the author gets more, but Babelcube always gets 15%).

...lacks transparency...


In what way? What was it that you hoped to see that you couldn't?

...and places you in a strait-jacket in terms of actively seeking out projects that interest you...


I don't think this is true. Babelcube gives you access to jobs that you would otherwise not have had access to. Yes, you are limited to the projects that have been posted on Babelcube itself, but the same applies to ProZ.com: does ProZ.com put you "in a strait-jacket" simply because only a limited number of jobs are posted here? Using Babelcube does not prevent you from seeking clients elsewhere.

Why not approach authors directly?


Well, you can, but that is like asking "why use agencies". The agency (or Babelcube) takes care of some of the administrative tasks that would otherwise have been a bit onerous. If you use Babelcube, you don't have to keep track of sales in order to calculate your royalties, and you don't have to keep chasing the author to make sure that he does pay you what he owes you.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
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Local time: 01:36
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What I meant Oct 16, 2015

I'll put it this way: Babelcube "seems" to be expensive. The translator collected around 90 USD for around 1400 sold books (although I just realized that this may be a result of the lag between sale and the translator being paid, maybe the missing money will appear in the coming months).

15% of the profits would not be much (assuming their presentation of the arrangement is not misleading). Although I also think that babelcube offers very little besides a dysfunctional way to search
... See more
I'll put it this way: Babelcube "seems" to be expensive. The translator collected around 90 USD for around 1400 sold books (although I just realized that this may be a result of the lag between sale and the translator being paid, maybe the missing money will appear in the coming months).

15% of the profits would not be much (assuming their presentation of the arrangement is not misleading). Although I also think that babelcube offers very little besides a dysfunctional way to search for authors looking to be translated. Their posting the title with hundreds of vendors is irrelevant, because anyone can post them with the handful of vendors that are responsible for over >99% of sales.

It is unclear to me why the book has sold 1400 copies and 55% of the profits on those sales = 90 USD (again, assuming that this is not simply to be explained by a time lag problem). Juliano's description of a lack of clarity about when he would receive his royalties and an apparent lack of explanation for the discrepancy between his expectations and the monetary results is the other aspect. I also consider the royalty percentage being based on "profits" instead of the listed or cover price (standard in the real-world publishing industry) to be extremely misleading. That basically screams "vanity press rip-off", although I didn't take this aspect seriously earlier in the thread. All of that is what I meant by "lack of transparency".

Imagine you are a self-published author (or a traditionally published author who for some reason still holds the rights to publish translations of his or her work). A translator sends you an e-mail explaining why he or she is interested in your work, thinks it will sell well in another language and why he or she is especially qualified to carry out this task. That would be a nice e-mail to open your day with.
And if I depended on the jobs posted at ProZ that would be a gigantic strait-jacket ... there might be a few jobs a year here that it would make any sense for me to bid on.

If the translator publishes the translation, then he or she doesn't have to chase anyone around, just regularly send statements and money to the author based on the books sales. And Juliano's report on Babelcube does not exactly make it look like they don't need to be chased around.
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Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
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Local time: 20:36
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More details Oct 16, 2015

For the first book I translated (The Wedding Favor, "Apenas diga sim", by Caroline Mickelson), here is the information I have:

Paid sales: 1026 books
Free downloads: 377 books

I know exactly how many books were sold in each channel (Amazon, Apple, Kobo, etc.), but above is just the total.

The biggest discrepancy I see is on sales report for June, where it shows 741 units sold on Amazon, but only 32.52 USD in royalty. This can only mean that they count
... See more
For the first book I translated (The Wedding Favor, "Apenas diga sim", by Caroline Mickelson), here is the information I have:

Paid sales: 1026 books
Free downloads: 377 books

I know exactly how many books were sold in each channel (Amazon, Apple, Kobo, etc.), but above is just the total.

The biggest discrepancy I see is on sales report for June, where it shows 741 units sold on Amazon, but only 32.52 USD in royalty. This can only mean that they counted many "free downloads" on Amazon as "paid sales", I think. Paid sales show 792 units for Amazon.
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LegalTranslatr2  Identity Verified
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Here's another article about fake ebooks: Oct 22, 2015

How an industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off the Internet’s craftiest catfishing scheme (they can get ghost writers to write a 20,000 word book for $120

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/10/21/how-an-industry-of-amazon-entrepreneurs-pu
... See more
How an industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off the Internet’s craftiest catfishing scheme (they can get ghost writers to write a 20,000 word book for $120

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/10/21/how-an-industry-of-amazon-entrepreneurs-pulled-off-the-internets-craftiest-catfishing-scheme/

There is also a "guy" selling machine translated novels of classic out-of-copyright books. I notified Amazon, but they don't care at all: http://www.amazon.com/Seiklused-Tom-Saeyer-Adventures-Estonian/dp/1500115355/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445558360&sr=1-1&keywords=tom%20sawyer%20estonian

Juliano Martins wrote:



[Edited at 2015-10-23 00:00 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-10-23 00:07 GMT]
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What do you think about babelcube? (Part 2)

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