Translations & other formats

My big accomplishment of January 2018 was finalizing an Italian translation of A Gift of Ghosts and rejecting a Portuguese translation of A Gift of Thought.

Translations are fascinating. It’s obviously difficult to proof-read a translation of a book in a language that you don’t speak, but it’s worth the effort. The Portuguese translator was highly recommended: lots of positive reviews, a five-star average.

But I suspect that people were mostly judging him on his ability to meet a deadline. The punctuation in the document was a mess: random spaces, curly quotes turned the wrong way, question marks followed by commas. The only way for me to fix some of it was to start running sections through Google Translate to see what it said.

Now Google Translate — all translation software, to be the best of my knowledge — is not terribly accurate. You definitely can’t use it to translate a book, because it’s going to wind up being a mess. Especially with pronouns and gender in the romance languages. But it was possible to notice things like “He’s going to want me to fire you,” being translated as “He’s going to want me to shoot you.” Um, that wasn’t really the meaning of “fire” that I was looking for.

Some of the missed meanings were almost funny. At one point, Dillon says, “Score,” meaning “Goal” or “Win” or even “Yay!” Definitely not meaning “Punctuate,” however, which was how the translator interpreted it.

And the farther I got into the file, the more often I noticed times where the translator just… didn’t. Translate, that is. “Snit,” “frou-frou,” “littler,” “boot camp” and a bunch of other words stayed in English. Maybe in Portuguese “snit” means “snit”… but I suspected not.

I wrote many words of explanation of problems to the translator and probably spent far too much time on the project, given how little money the translations earn, but eventually he recommended that I simply reject the translation, so I did. Someday maybe I’ll have a translation of A Gift of Thought in Portuguese but it won’t be any day soon.

Meanwhile, though, the Italian translator — Ilaria Grande, from Tuscany — was as much of a perfectionist as I am, and as attentive to details as anyone could wish. I managed to get the final files for both a print edition and the ePub edition uploaded this morning and so I’m looking forward to seeing the book posted for sale soon.

I’m also looking into audio book production again. I’ve struggled with how to do an audio book, largely because I really personally don’t like listening to audio books, which makes it hard for me to judge the quality of auditions. But I’d like to make that alternative format available for the people who prefer audio.

Unfortunately, in the news that any reader of this post actually wants — what’s happening with A Gift of Grace? — I don’t have much to report. I keep writing, I keep deleting, I write some more. I went backwards in January, not forwards, but it had to be done. Still, I didn’t go all the way back to the beginning this time, so maybe that’s progress?