Category Archives: ebook translations

Google Loon Coming to India, Spotlight Falls on Poland, and more.



Google Loon For India.

It’s early days yet, but it looks likely India will join Sri Lanka and Indonesia in being among the first countries to have nationwide internet access courtesy of Google Loon.

Loon is a balloon project whereby unmanned balloons fly at high altitude reflecting and beaming down internet signals to places that would otherwise be uneconomical to reach.

Google is currently partnering with telcos on the ground (literally in this case) to move to the next stage.

Long term everyone benefits from these social infrastructure ventures being undertaken by companies like Google and Facebook (think Aquila drones), that will make the internet even more accessible.

Loon and Aquila are of course driven by mobile. Global mobile. Globile.

And with each new advance the potential audience for content suppliers grows ever bigger.

This post was previously published in the International Indie Author Facebook Group on 08 March 2016.  (LINK

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Spotlight On Poland 2016-17.

Poland will be in this spotlight this year and next, with several major book fairs showcasing the Polish book market.

Publishing Perspectives covers this in a post by Porter Anderson, where I noted in comments,

“Poland is a particularly interesting market for ebooks because Amazon has no Kindle store there and is therefore busily surcharging Polish readers for Kindle books unless they have pre-existing accounts from a Kindle country.

A lot of Poles have bought Kindles and have accounts set up whilst in Germany or UK, etc, which enables them to buy from the UK or Germany Kindle store without whispernet surcharges, but of course there is very little Polish content being made available in the Kindle store in the first place.

Many domestic Polish ebook publishers have taken full advantage of this by supplying ebooks in mobi format as well as epub.”

We indies tend to assume it has been the USA that has made all the running in the ebook sector, and of course by market size that’s true, but Poland was fielding ebook subscription services long before Scribd, Oyster and Amazon got in on the act.

Check out Legimi (one of the first Polish subscription services, way back in 2013) for one of many Polish outlets where we can sell our Polish translations, should we ever have them available.

Of course we all know that’s a waste of time because we all know central and east Europeans wouldn’t want to read our stories set in America and Britain.

That’s why there’s no sign in the Legimi store of Lee Child or Karin Slaughter or EL James or Andy Weir or… No, hold on. They are all there.

It’s just as indies that can’t be bothered.

Our loss.

Admittedly none of my titles are in Legimi right now either, but that’s just a matter of time. My first Polish translations will be going live in the next few months.

How about you?

This post was previously published in the International Indie Author Facebook Group on 07 March 2016. (LINK

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Augmented Reality Books Are Coming. No, Not Ebooks. Print Books!

Yep, Google has just patented the tech to create digitally-enhanced print books. You couldn’t make it up.

“The technology outfits a physical book with numerous page sensors, touch sensors, and motion sensors to understand the reader’s movements. Based on those movements and the storyline of the book, the system adds augmented reality elements over the pages.”

My guess this will in turn embrace hologram tech and provide, in time, a 3D augmented reality experience.

For children’s books, fantasy and sci-fi and for non-fic like how to and cookery this could be major step forward and show once more that print is far from dead and can be reinvented just like the story-telling process.

This a post was previously published in the International Indie Author Facebook Group on 05 March 2016.  (LINK

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Facebook Messenger Integrates With Spotify.

We can ignore them all we like, but messaging apps aren’t going to go away.

Facebook Messenger has now integrated with Spotify in an attempt to attract its NEXT billion monthly active users.

Yes, Facebook Messenger already has a billion monthly active users we could be connecting with to promote our books.

WhatsApp has 800 million, WeChat 600 million, Telegram 100 million and growing fast.

There are lots more.

As with Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc, a handful of savvy indies are shifting million of books (search the Group for posts on this) while the majority of us carry on partying like it’s 2010 and dismiss any suggestion that The Next Generation social media platforms might be worth a second look.

Our loss.

This a post was previously published in the International Indie Author Facebook Group on 04 March 2016.  (LINK

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The International Indie Author

Looking at the bigger picture.

Going Globile: India – Momentum Builds, Despite The Indifference Of The Western Retailers.

For those looking at the bigger picture, Publishing Perspectives this week (LINK), in the wake of the New Delhi Book Fair, runs a post on India reporting on the success of local authors writing in local languages.
As I’ve long been saying, the rise of globile (global mobile) means previously disenfranchised readers across the globe are for the first time being given the opportunity to read, listen and watch books, audio-books, video, etc, that were previously off-limits to them due to the restrictions (accessibility and affordability) of analogue content.
As the Publishing Perspectives posts notes, in India there are 22 official languages and over 100 more major spoken languages in dozens of communities from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. ”The emergence of smartphones and tablets — enabling so-called “mobile reading” — promises to make India a nation of translations.”
The post reports Prashasti Rastogi, director, German Book Office in New Delhi as saying, “Lately in India, there’s a huge concentration in publishing on Indian languages. Technology is deep-seated in the market, and we’ve seen the rise of reading apps which cater to Indian languages.”
Rastogi adds, “…hordes of people flock to book fairs in Patna or Kolkata to look for books in Hindi or Bengali.”
Print books that is. A reminder that we indies venturing into the India market should not ignore print.
Ebooks? If only.
But the simple fact is local-language Indian ebooks are not taking off in a big way because of retailer indifference.
Take Amazon, for example. With a whole 100 Hindi ebooks available in the Kindle IN store and zero titles on other Indian languages that’s hardly an incentive for publishers to start getting their local-language titles into mobi format.
But there’s always Apple and Kobo, right?
Sadly, no. There is no IBooks IN store, and Kobo treats India as an afterthought. Kobo has a disappointing partnership store with Crossword and the Kobo international store is available, but there is no localized Kobo India store and like Amazon, Kobo doesn’t want to know about local-language ebooks.
Having just absorbed Flipkart’s customers, that’s tragic. Kobo, wake up and smell the coffee!
There are two key local-language players in India right now – Dailyhunt and Rockstand.
Both are doing rather well, not least because they not only offer local-language titles, But also because they offer local-payment options too – another big fail for the western retailers in a land where only a tiny fraction of its people have bank cards.
Both Rockstand and Dailyhunt are in theory accessible to authors outside the country, but the hoops you need to jump through to go direct are not going to have western indie authors queuing up to clamber aboard.
Late last year the Hungarian aggregator PublishDrive signed a distribution deal with Rockstand, but that aside the big western aggregators, like the western retailers, seem determined to stick to the easy option English-language market in India.
“Languages (other than English) are really thriving, and in fact, there is an increased readership that we see in a lot of local languages,” says Meera Johri, head of an Indian publisher of Hindi classics.
In the tagged Publishing Perspectives post Jori adds, “There is a renewed interest in buying Hindi books and reading Hindi books. (Indian languages like) Marathi has always been very vibrant. Malayalam and Bangla, too… One reason is that these languages have a very strong culture of reading.”
Getting my titles translated into multiple Indian languages in multiple formats – ebook, print and audio – is a priority for me this year as the Indian book market – already the sixth largest in the world – transforms into a dual analogue-digital market.
The opportunities in India right now, for those playing the long game, are hard to exaggerate.
Stake you claim now for the India goldrush to come.
Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.
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The Intercontinental Indie Author


When it comes to being an international indie author I like to do it from both ends.

The cover for the Spanish translation of Part One of my West Africa travelogue series, “West Africa Is My Back Yard, came in overnight. Now to format, upload and get it distributed around the world. But it already has more global credentials than you might expect.

Written right here in The Gambia in West Africa, it was translated into Spanish by a translator in Argentina in South America, and the cover was made by my regular designer in Indonesia in Asia. The English-language version has already seen sales as far apart as France, India and Brazil, but I’m looking forward to getting this title into multiple languages.

Most indies never give translations of their works a second thought because they believe

a) translations are unaffordable,

b) getting new covers in lots of different languages will require a second mortgage

c) no-one knows what ebooks are in the rest of the world, and

d) that the overseas markets are the exclusive preserve of the big-name authors with big-name publishers behind them.

Well, this particular book is pretty niche. A Spanish translation of a West Africa travelogue by a British ex-pat in one of the less-travelled parts of the world is hardly likely to set the charts on fire.

Is it worth an indie spending thousands on translators and hundreds on covers? For a proven bestseller, yes. For a niche title like this, no.

Which is where translator-partnerships and shoestring budgeting comes in.

I’ve covered the translation options before. (LINK)

For this title my Spanish-language translator in Argentina comes courtesy of Babelcube. No upfront costs.

And the cover cost me just five British pounds (about eight US dollars) from my Indonesian designer who plies his services on Fivesquid, the UK equivalent of Fiverr.

A few days ago I needed an update to another cover I’d first bought several years ago and paid $150 for. When I approached the designer she said it would cost me another fifty bucks to make the alteration and it would be a week before she would get to do it.

So I sent the cover to another designer I use on Fivesquid, in Romania, and the cover came back within four hours exactly as I wanted it, and cost me just a fiver.

Which is the same price I pay for all my translation covers and many of my originals now.

So far this month I’ve bought ten covers for my translated titles. At $100 a time that would have cost me a grand. At $50 a time that would have cost me $500.

Using the fiver sites I get ten covers for my translations for just $50.

As I do my own formatting that means each translation that goes live costs me just $5, and even a niche audience title like this one, aimed at a nascent market where ebook take-up is embryonic, can earn out in no time.

As I’ve said before (LINK) you can turn one title into six just by partnering with a translator and getting that title translated and selling in five different languages as well as English. One title becomes six without you writing an extra word.

Do that for two titles and those two titles become twelve.

Get five titles into five languages plus the English originals and your five title portfolio is suddenly a thirty title portfolio.

And somewhere down the road you’ll not only have new income streams but may just find yourself a truly international best-selling author.

It’s 2015, not 2009. The opportunities open to indies today are a world apart from just a few years ago when KDP launched and was only available in one country.

With two billion smartphones out there across the globe, each one capable of holding your ebooks, we have unprecedented reach and unprecedented opportunities.

Don’t let those opportunities pass you by.

Invest in the future, now.

Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

E Unum Pluribus – Going Global. The View From The Beach: Mark Williams At large.


As I sat down to write this post this morning a serendipitous email came in telling me I now had a new translator for one of my books, from English into Ukrainian.

No, E Unum Pluribus is not the Ukrainian national motto. Nor is this a Latin-challenged Brit messing up the famous United States motto.

What it is is an insight into how we indies can all engage with the global New Renaissance unfolding right now, and be in with a chance of becoming truly international bestselling authors.

Lest anyone is unfamiliar (it’s possible!) the US motto E Pluribus Unum translates as From Many, One, a reference to the creation of one country – the USA – from the myriad colonies that fought the British for independence back in the 1770s.

E Unum Pluribus, therefore, translates to From One, Many.

No, I’m not advocating chopping long books into short ones just to game the system. But rather turning one book into many, pretty much without writing an extra word, and at a stroke increasing your potential audience reach by literally hundreds of millions.


Translations is the name of the game, and if you haven’t been thinking seriously about translations so far, I can promise you will be by the time you finish this post. Here’s why.

My flagship title, Sugar & Spice, has sold close to half a million copies in the English language, mostly in the UK. In the New Year I’ll be re-launching the title and actively targeting the other English-speaking markets. Not least the US, but also Canada, and of course Australia and New Zealand.

But I’ll also be targeting India, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa and the Philippines, as well as key English-As-Second-Language countries like Germany, Poland, Romania, South Korea, etc.

No translations needed. Just focus, targeted marketing and wide distribution. As has been said repeatedly here on the EBUK blog, English is the lingua franca of the world. It is our single greatest asset. Don’t waste it by ignoring the immense reach we indies have simply by writing in the world’s most widespread and popular language. Trad pub is raking in the cash from English-language titles selling in non-English-speaking lands right now.

But beyond that reach are not just hundreds of millions, but literally billions of readers who do not speak English at all, or at least not well enough to read our books.

Five years ago, when the self-publishing movement began to build momentum, most of those readers were off-limits even to the elite trad-pubbed authors with big corporations able to get their books translated and distributed to bookstores around the globe.

Because the vast majority of those potential readers lived where print books were either unavailable or unaffordable.

Today that remains largely true. Print is actually gaining ground around the globe – the global New Renaissance is driven by digital , not limited to digital – but not in a way that makes much difference to most indies. The logistics of global print production and distribution simply does not allow for more than a handful of big-name authors to become international print bestselling authors.

That’s not to say it can’t be done by lesser-known authors without a Big 5 backer. The French translation of Sugar & Spice had sold some 50,000 hardcover editions in France and Belgium last I heard, and I’m currently looking at getting the print version out in China. But my focus is and will remain digital.

But to get back  to E Unum Pluribus.


Sugar & Spice is a proven bestseller in English that went on to conquer the charts in French and Chinese (in China the first and so far only western indie title to hit #1 on Kindle China). As I write this post, translations are well-advanced in Spanish and Portuguese, with an eye not just on the obvious markets of Spain and Portugal but, more significantly, on Portuguese-speaking Brazil and the Spanish-speaking countries that comprise most of Latin America.

Finding translators for a 120,000 word novel is, for reasons I’ll go into in a follow-up post, more difficult than finding translators for shorter works. Clearly it can be done, but for several reasons you would be advised to focus on shorter titles first when going down this route. And no, they don’t need to have been bestsellers in English first. I’ve gpot translators right now fighting over new releases that have yet to hit even an obscure category chart, let alone the in-store top 100.

At which point you may be saying,

But hold on. Why bother at all? We can count on one hand the global ebook markets with even 10% market share compared to print. Isn’t this just going to be a lot of hard work, a lot of money up-front, all for no reward, because no-one outside the US and UK even knows ebooks exist?

Well, regular readers of this blog will be in no doubt the readers are out there. As for reaching them. This is where E Unum Pluribusfrom one, many – comes into its own.

For my part, as well as Sugar & Spice I have another dozen titles currently with translations either complete or underway, and a dozen more being lined up. But let’s take a more probable scenario – say two titles in a series, being given the translation treatment.

Here’s the thing:

2 titles in English is, obviously, just 2 titles in your global catalogue.

But get those 2 titles translated into French and you suddenly have 4 titles available, and have added literally tens of millions of French-speaking readers to your potential audience, pretty much without having written an extra word. Potential readers not just in France, but in Belgium, and the European principalities, and in Canada, as well as across much of North and West Africa, etc, etc.

Now get those same 2 English-language books into Spanish. Your 2-book portfolio has suddenly become 6, and you have the Spanish speaking audience of readers in Latin America and Spain, the many Spanish-speakers in the USA, and countless more around the world.

Add Italian and German translations to your repertoire to increase your 2 book portfolio to 10 titles and added a ton more readers to your potential audience.

But why stop there? Do what I’ve done and add Dutch and Japanese translations to the list. And why not go for broke and throw in a Chinese translation too?

When complete your 2 titles will have become 2 x English, 2 x Spanish, 2 x Portuguese, 2 x French, 2 x German, 2 x Italian. 2 x Dutch, 2 x Japanese and 2 x Chinese.

Your 2 English-language titles have suddenly become 18 titles. E Unum pluribus. From one, many.

And since you ask, yes, all those languages have associated Kindle stores, although of course Amazon is just one of myriad retailer options to reach readers in these countries.


But chances are you’ve got 3 English language titles. Get those into 8 languages plus English and you suddenly have 27 titles in your global portfolio.

5 English-language books?  How does 45 titles in your global portfolio grab you?

I’ve got a dozen titles going through translations right now, with more to come. And not just in those eight languages. Ukrainian I mentioned above. Fresh in today. Two different Indian-language translations are currently underway. Hindi and Urdu since you ask. I hope to have translations into Russian, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian on-going by the end of this year.

High priorities beyond those are Indonesian, Tagalog (Philippines), Korean, Turkish, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Afrikaans and Arabic.

None of these are random choices, but rather driven by the way the nascent global markets are shaping up. And regular readers here will know the global markets are indeed shaping up.


That’s all very well and good, But I can’t afford to get even one of my books translated into one language, let alone all of them translated into more languages than I’ve had hot dinners. How much is all this costing you?

Fair question. And yes, of course there are costs.

Covers, for example. Every translated title is going to need a new cover in the relevant language. But it’s only the title wording that needs changing, and chances are your regular cover designer will do that for a token sum or even for free.

Translation costs? Well, no question they can get very expensive. Serious money.

I know some indies who went that route very early in the evolution of the digital markets and still are nowhere near recouping their costs. Ebook take-up around the globe is still in its infancy. Paying big money for a translation that you cannot easily distribute or promote in the relevant countries is probably not a good idea.

Which is why I’ve long advocated the partnership model, where the translator takes on the task with no up-front payment, instead working on the promise of a share of the royalties when that title sells. This gives the translator the incentive not just to do an outstanding job, but also to help promote and market that title in the local language once the job is done.

At which point you’ll be asking,

But how do you find even one translator, let alone dozens, willing to work for nothing on your book in the hope they might get paid down the road?

It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. And I’ll tell you exactly how in the next post.


Until then, ponder those numbers once more.

3 English titles into 9 languages gives you 27 titles in your global portfolio, without writing a single additional word of text and without paying out a penny in translation fees.

Oh, and did I mention box-sets? Bundle those three English titles into one box-set and you have four titles. Bundle those translations and your 27 title global portfolio is suddenly 36.

Now imagine doing that with a dozen titles into nine languages with nine box-sets…


As the global New Renaissance gets into second gear we should all divest ourselves of any straight-jacket notions about what will sell and where, and what will be commercially viable. If you’d told me this time last year that my very dark psychological crime thriller Sugar & Spice, set in small-town Britain and about the hunt for a child killer, would hit #1 on Kindle China within weeks of going live I would have laughed.

It happened.

Likewise we should all divest ourselves of any straight-jacket notions about marketing and promotion. Bookbub is great and Bookbub is in several countries now, but only for English-language editions. But there are plenty of other ways of reaching readers abroad, and crucially your translator is one of them.

And finally, let’s divest ourselves of any notion that translations and global distribution are the luxury of trad pub and a handful of super-successful indie authors with money to burn.

Going global with multiple-language translations of your works needn’t cost you a penny.

I’m doing it right now. Next post I’ll show how you can do it too.


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