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How to go about a book translation
מפרסם התגובה: Christopher W Gladden

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
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Local time: 02:21
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normal process Aug 12, 2014

This is my understanding of the situation, which may or may not be accurate:

Normally, the publisher in the original language purchases the right to license the book for translation (and a long list of other subsidiary rights: e-book, audio book, paperback edition, etc.) along with the right to publish the book in the original language. The authors need to look in the contract they signed with their publisher and see if this is the case. At any rate, the Japanese publisher is the be
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This is my understanding of the situation, which may or may not be accurate:

Normally, the publisher in the original language purchases the right to license the book for translation (and a long list of other subsidiary rights: e-book, audio book, paperback edition, etc.) along with the right to publish the book in the original language. The authors need to look in the contract they signed with their publisher and see if this is the case. At any rate, the Japanese publisher is the best place to start for information and support regarding finding a publishing house for an English version.

If the authors still hold the rights to license the publication of a translation or if the Japanese publisher is too small, uninterested or not internationally oriented enough to help actively pursue an English-language publishing house, then what you need is theoretically a "book proposal" (you can google it) arguing for the relevance of the book in the context of English-language scholarship and/or among more popular discourses on Buddhism and also for the existence of an English-language market for the book. You would submit this to various relevant publishing houses (for example, "Shambhala Publications", which I previously misspelled, or various university presses with relevant book series).

You absolutely do not need a complete translation of the book and if the client is naive enough to ask to pay for this before he or she has clear arrangements to have the book published, then you ought to be professional enough to inform them that they are putting the cart before the horse (unless they want to self-publish with a vanity press or through Amazon, etc.).

Ultimately, the only serious prospects for success are: (1) the original publisher gets interested and actively pursues the translation project, (2) the authors or their colleagues have solid connections to influential scholars or English-speaking Buddhist organizations other influential people who can help them pursue their project while cutting out the need for an agent or a formal book proposal. Anything else seems very risky and time-consuming for the fairly narrow chances of success involved.
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Christopher W Gladden  Identity Verified
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Local time: 20:21
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TOPIC STARTER
Yes Aug 12, 2014

(2) the authors or their colleagues have solid connections to influential scholars or English-speaking Buddhist organizations other influential people who can help them pursue their project while cutting out the need for an agent or a formal book proposal. Anything else seems very risky and time-consuming for the fairly narrow chances of success involved.


I do think that's the situation. One author is the head of the Soto Zen organization in North America. Still, I'd imagine their publishers would have filled them in on what they need to do... or not(?) Hmmmm, maybe not, it seems.

So I'm guessing we'll need to:

1) Get the original publisher in motion and

2) Look to the kind of companies you've mentioned.

Thanks so much Michael for the awesome advice.

Chris


[Edited at 2014-08-12 15:35 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
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Local time: 02:21
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Weatherhill Aug 13, 2014

Shunryu Suzuki's "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" was originally published by Weatherhill, which was later taken over by Shambhala Publications - which is the publisher of the latest reprints of the book. There are presumably a lot of publishers focussed on Buddhism or even Zen Buddhism and a lot of other publishers with major series on the subject.

Someone in the North American organization ought to know about this issue and if they don't, there are Zen groups on Facebook and presumably
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Shunryu Suzuki's "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" was originally published by Weatherhill, which was later taken over by Shambhala Publications - which is the publisher of the latest reprints of the book. There are presumably a lot of publishers focussed on Buddhism or even Zen Buddhism and a lot of other publishers with major series on the subject.

Someone in the North American organization ought to know about this issue and if they don't, there are Zen groups on Facebook and presumably on LinkedIn, etc. Someone in the author's organization should be taking care of this and they should be looking for help from someone in the publishing industry who is involved with publications on Buddhism. Translators are unlikely to be able to help you and you ought to discuss your problem in forums where there are people who are likely to know how to help (and where you may have a good chance of finding a strong advocate for your project).

In the Translation News section of ProZ, there is currently also a link to an article about a major new program by the Japanese government to fund book projects: Zen + international = a great recipe for success there.

Although I can't speak a word of Chinese or Japanese, I am personally very interested in Ch'an/Zen Buddhism and something of a closet pseudo-Zen-Buddhist myself, although I've almost never taken the time to meditate since my first daughter was born. I've never translated anything on Buddhism (my educational background is in art history), but there are fairly active scholarly and practicing communities in Germany (and presumably in Austria and Switzerland). It would be very interesting to get involved, although I'm unlikely to do any volunteer work. If you have any interest in staying in touch, please send me an e-mail.
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Christopher W Gladden  Identity Verified
ארצות הברית
Local time: 20:21
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TOPIC STARTER
Agreed Aug 13, 2014

Someone in the author's organization should be taking care of this and they should be looking for help from someone in the publishing industry who is involved with publications on Buddhism.


It does seem strange the authors don't know about this or that the publisher wouldn't volunteer the information (presumably they know the plan). One possibility I realized today is that perhaps when they say they want to talk "about the nitty-gritty of publishing" this translation, maybe I'm taking them too literally. There's definitely other stuff we have to talk about as well. That could just be Japanese-speak for "we need to talk more about the book." So a cultural thing, you see. Good times

And I'll definitely check out that "Translation news" info. That sounds almost too good!

Anyway, thanks again to everyone for all the advice. You pros have really helped a newcomer out, and I appreciate it. If it turns out they ARE lost on the publishing front, I know what I'll suggest as the next step, which is light years ahead of where I started. Cheers.

Michael, I'll drop a line.

[Edited at 2014-08-13 10:17 GMT]


 
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