Should translators who can only work on one series at a time be allowed to translate more than one ongoing series?


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    Just caught this topic, but it highlights what I have said in the past. That due to the rapid rate of JNC, people forget what other companies do, especially the bigger ones like Yen Press, Seven Seas etc where a volume every 4 to 6 months is the norm.

    Translators are a finite resource, especially good quality ones. No matter the size of the company, there will never be a single translator for a single series especially when new volume releases in Japan, native, have gaps which can mean translators would sit idle. This, sharing translators are a good use of resources, preventing wastage.


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    @saskir said in Should translators who can only work on one series at a time be allowed to translate more than one ongoing series?:

    If they continue like this they will overtake Yen Press in released volumes.

    Considering the resources available to YEN, (co-owned by Kadokawa Corporation and Hachette Book Group, both powerhouses in their respective markets) I don't think JNC will surpass YEN. YEN has however many books in print currently because (at least partially) due to demand and the evolving marketplace. LNs in English (and Anime/Manga), especially in electronic formats, are simply more popular today in the English-speaking market than say, 10 years ago. YEN and their corporate owners will put more resources/titles in the market as long as there is money to be made.
    Competition in this marketplace is a good thing. Customers have been growing to expect better quality TL and editing. TYPOs and slapdash formatting/typesetting/editing which might have been tolerated in the past won't meet the expectations of customers today. Likewise competition is driving unit prices down (When I started reading DANMACHI early 2015, ebooks were $12-14 US, most LNs now are under $10)
    It wouldn't surprise me if, as the market grows, increased demand for skilled TLs drives up their compensation as well


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    @Jon-Mitchell Partly yes and no in my opinion. Sure the part about them overtaking Yen Press was exaggerated but reflected my point.

    And yes if there are more competitiors there will be more frequent releases and better quality overall. and this leads to the prices going down. As there were in the beginning only some series out there and not as many companies involved they could more easily dictate the prices. But now they need to work a little more to hold those customers.

    Where I am not so sure is about the compensation for TL. Those prices are something which were established over a long period. You need to think about all the other things which get translated besides LN. So there will be not much fluctuations. Although it could happen that certain translators with a good track record get favorable conditions from other publishers.

    But we get further from the topic. So we should maybe continue sich ramblings in other threads.


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    I'm sad to have to wait for Ms. Elf 5, but having translators work on multiple books makes sense to me.

    The translator wants to earn a certain amount of money. That could mean not wanting to have a couple weeks of no income while between volumes, and not wanting to have much longer gaps once the English release has caught up with Japan.

    JNC wants to keep reliable translators, and get as much work out of them as possible while keeping them happy. Having a good translator sit idle when they don't want a break means fewer releases and less money for both JNC and the translator.

    I'm very happy with JNC's overall pace for LN releases, it's better than any other company's.


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    @saskir said in Should translators who can only work on one series at a time be allowed to translate more than one ongoing series?:

    Where I am not so sure is about the compensation for TL. Those prices are something which were established over a long period. You need to think about all the other things which get translated besides LN. So there will be not much fluctuations. Although it could happen that certain translators with a good track record get favorable conditions from other publishers

    Here's where I'm coming from: even if unit prices of ebooks continue to drop due to competition, (as long as each sale is profitable) , overall profits will go up based on increased volume. When profits go up, publishers will want to have a product in the marketplace to get their piece of the pie. that will increase demand for TLs. And the work TLs do is not a fungible good, nor are their (the tl's) skills in high/unlimited supply...If I recall the Schoolhouse Rock Saturday morning cartoon from my childhood, when demand goes up for a resource with limited supply, the price of that resource will tend to increase (TL's wages). When that happens, (I predict) more doors will open for works that publishers think might appear to the same market that Japanese LNs do, and they will look to recreate the model of what worked...and we'll see other East-Asian novels translated for a English speaking audience. Bring on Korean, and Chinese, and Thai, and whatever else undiscovered gems of novels are out there!


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    @Jon-Mitchell bonus points for mentioning School House Rocks


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    @Jon-Mitchell tangible what you mean. And yes if you have a limited product which is high in demand the prices go up. Problem is with the way our economic works. Those prices are established over many years/instances. So I don't see much leeway or intentions for them to change this.

    Besides on a sidenote. Translators from literary works earn less than for example ones that specialize in official documents, etc. Although I can only talk from the standpoint in Germany as I know some translators personally. Translators in the literature business earn around 13-15k per year. Although it depends on how much work they do as they usually earn per paragraph (usually a paragraph is 55 keystrokes).

    Sure, the profits will go up even if the prices are falling. but it will not be so much if we take into account the prices of the licensing, marketing, translation, typesetting, etc. A big share goes to the original license holder. But as I can not recall how Sam licenses them: if it is a share of units sold, which is highly unlikely as this would go against good business economy. I assume it is more JNC needs to pay a agreed on amount for the right to bring it to another market and then the japanese license holder gets surely a cut of the sold units.

    And what follows is my speculation so don't take my word for it. It is just an example why I doubt the loan for a TL will go up significantly.

    Let's assume you make an offer for a LN to the original publisher. If I recall correctly Sam licenses such things per Book, not for the whole series. So we have Book A Volume one which costs initially 10k (and I believe this price could be even higher). Now we take into account that it needs to be translated. a norm paragraph is around 55 keys so any TL earns around 1.80-2.50 Bucks per paragraph (and nope it won't help to separate the speech from the normal text usually). Now we take into account typesetting, marketing, distribution, cut shares for other plattforms liek Amazon, B&N, etc).

    Let's assume the example of $10 per book. After all this I assume JNC earns around $3 per books which goes slightly up the more they sell this book (seeing as the initial investments stays the same, atleast in the cases of ebooks).

    Now book prices go down. So if it is 2 bucks cheaper you would maybe only earn $1 per book. Sure you would have a wider market with more licenses but not really much more money out of it. And just in case anyone things that in this example they should leave just the original prices. Sure the publisher would like to do so. But as the market gets saturated with more and more licenses (and publishers) they most go down in prices.

    TL;DR: There will be not much fluctuations in the amount a TL can earn even if there are more licenses. The market just doesn't offer this leeway.

    And as mentioned this is my take on it with not verified prices. And I highly recommend that we should continue this really in another thread as the initial purpose of this one here was if a translator should be allowed to translate more than one series. Even though with all my rambling I should have made it clear that in my opinion he/she has every right to do so as those equals his earnings.


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