Episode 85 – Annette Spratte on German Translations

In this episode Mark interviews Annette Spratte, a bilingual author living in Germany who has published books in various genres and languages, including a contemporary romance series self-published in English, a children‘s book series in German with three traditionally published books and two more scheduled for 2020. A historical romance will also be traditionally published in German in 2020. In addition to writing, Annette loves to support Indie authors with affordable translation services.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a word from this episodes sponsor…

Mark then goes on to thank Patrons of the show as well as those who left comments on episode 84, and who were entered in a chance to win a copy of Patrick O’Donnell’s book COPS AND WRITERS.

Thanks to Amy Tasukada, Chad Boyer, MZ Lowe, and Vale Nagle for leaving comments. Also, thanks to Patrick O’Donnell for answering the police related questions.

In their conversation Mark and Annette talk about:

  • Annette’s history as a translator since 1995 before she moved over into book translation, which she enjoys far more
  • The importance of getting the emotion and the tension right in a literary translation (as opposed to legal document translation)
  • Annette’s own writing experience with contemporary romance fiction (English) which was self-published and the children’s adventure fiction (in German) that has been picked up by a publisher
  • How Annette initially started with a self-publishing services company that she later on found out charged almost $50 for the print book in the US – she managed to get out of that deal and published the book directly herself
  • The size of the German book industry and the fact that eBooks might be as little as 5% of overall book sales
  • Those magic words from a publisher who said to Annette: “I read your book and I couldn’t put it down!”
  • How a lot of the romance books on the market in Germany are translations from English
  • A bit of a perspective on the size and reach of Tolino, a major eBook retailer in Germany
  • What it’s like for an author from Europe using an American platform for eBook publishing
  • Why authors shouldn’t use something like Google translate for translating their novel
  • Subtle differences in the form of address in the German language (formal VS familiar)
  • The genres that Annette works with and prefers to work with in her translation business
  • Why she prefers to avoid horror and erotica translations as well as a preference for fiction over non-fiction
  • The research that can be involved in doing a literary translation, particularly for historical fiction
  • Examples of terms or services that aren’t used or known in Germany – such as “Uber” – for example
  • The importance of using the same translator when working through a book series in order to have a consistent style/voice
  • How word of mouth is the most common way that authors and translators connect with one another
  • Typical costs of translations, and Annettes current and lower fees of 3 cents per word
  • How an English speaking/reading author would be able to determine if the translation is a quality one
  • Some of the legal aspects associated with copyright on translations in Germany
  • The fixed price laws for books in Germany and how that has allowed for the continued existence of both chain and independent bookstores in that country
  • The continued popularity of thrillers and romance in the German book market
  • How German readers are perfectly content with books that aren’t set in Germany
  • The value of the resources on the site

Mark then reflects on the subtle differences in languages, terms, and even different laws in different countries, provinces and states and how this can both be something that can harm a story (ie, an inaccurate overlooked detail), or it can be something that brings an additional depth and realistic richness to a story if used effectively.

Links of Interest

Annette Spratte is a bilingual author living in Germany with her husband and two sons. She has published books in various genres and languages: A contemporary romance series self-published in English, a children‘s book series in German with three traditionally published books and two more scheduled for 2020. A historical romance will also be traditionally published in German in 2020.

Being fluent in two languages, she loves to support Indie authors with affordable translation services.

2 thoughts on “Episode 85 – Annette Spratte on German Translations”

  1. You talking about the different terms people use in different countries (or parts of the same country) reminds me of two little stories. My mom is Canadian, so when she moved to the US, someone asked her what aisle the soda was down. She thought they meant baking soda, so she told them “aisle seven, near the pop, maybe?”

    I grew up in Florida, so soda sounds normal to me, though I still say “soda pop” if I’m around my relatives. But when I went to Texas, my future spouse would often say “would you like a Coke?” Since the only drink that you can reliably get in Texas is Dr. Pepper, I’d always say “No thank you, but a Dr. Pepper would be nice.”

    I think she was about ready to kill me before she realized I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious, I’d literally never heard anyone call a soft drink “coke” before. My protest of “but the only drink they serve in this state is Dr. Pepper, why aren’t you calling them peppers instead of cokes?” fell on deaf ears.

    1. Ahh, so Texas is one of those states that calls soda pop/soft drinks “Coke.” Thanks for sharing. I find that fascinating – particularly since Coke is a cola. I can see using “Coke” for cola in place of Pepsi, RC Cola or a dozen other “cola” flavored drinks, but definitely not Dr. Pepper or 7UP or ginger ale or something like that.

      It reminds me of being at the airport in London, UK, a few years ago and laughing at the sign asking those flying to remind their Kindles from their carry-on bags. I smirked, temporarily considered leaving my Kobo in my bag and then, when asked, joking: “What? The sign says ‘Kindle’ – I’ve never owned one, but I have this lovely Kobo device.’ Long ago I decided arguing or joking with border guards wasn’t a good idea, so I took my Kobo out – the same way you likely just say “Sure, I’ll have a Coke, as you accept your Dr. Pepper.” 😉

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