A literary translator’s ideal experience

March 28, 2023


As a trained literary translator, my goal is to provide the best possible service to my clients, whether they write contemporary fiction or historical romances. Publishing houses may be more experienced on that front, but I understand that, for indie authors, getting your book translated into a language that you don’t necessarily understand is daunting. This is why I believe that communication and transparency are the keys to a successful project, and I strive to ensure that we are always on the same page. I have been working in this field since 2014 and have picked up some best practices along the way. Let me share with you what my ideal experience as a literary translator would look like.

Before signing the contract

You have contacted me or I’ve reached out to you. A book or a series of historical romances is waiting to be discovered by a French-speaking audience. But first, we need to talk!

A brief discussion on the type of romance you write

Before we agree to work together, there are a few things that I need to know. First and foremost, I need to make sure that our specialisations match. This will ensure that I am able to provide the best possible translation of your work. I specialise in romances and historical books, as you can guess from my portfolio. I will definitely branch out into other genres in the future, but for now, I’m quite happy to spend time with Regency beauties or proud Highlanders.

I have also translated contemporary romances, so I can deal with modern language, but there are often situations in modern romances that make me uncomfortable. Everyone has a threshold they don’t want to cross, and after having translated a “young woman meets BDSM billionaire with a secret trauma” series, I realised that it’s really not for me. Unfortunately, I also see BDSM practices trickling into historical romances. Though Emmanuelle de Maupassant is one of my favourite adult romance writers, she clearly states beforehand that her stories are steamy, and I still have to find domestic abuse parading as BDSM or sexual empowerment in her early work.

Again, this can be solved by a simple dialogue during the first discussion, and if we find out that we are not compatible, let’s part ways amicably. Once more, everybody is different.

Let me introduce you to my proofreader

On a more practical note, I am happy to provide translation services, but I also work with an editor to ensure that your book is localised to perfection. I can provide the contact details of trusted editors or will be more than happy to work with your in-house person. We will need to define a manageable deadline that works for the three of us, so that I have enough time to translate and go through a couple of rounds of proofreading.

Has the source text been edited?

Of course, trust me, it’s way easier to translate a manuscript that has been edited and is error-free. In French, we have different typography rules for dialogues, “her” and “his” are the same word (ah, playing the pronoun game… NOT my favorite thing!), and we are very much against repetitions. I will have so many things to work on that if I can avoid translating an endless number of sentences that begin with “but” or an anacoluthon, I’ll be happy.

How do I get paid for my literary translation?

As far as payment goes, we can agree to pay half of the fee before starting, or when I deliver half of the first draft. This will ensure that we are both committed to the project from the beginning.

While I translate your novel

During the translation process, it is important that we maintain regular contact, if only to reassure you that I’m going to meet the deadline (never missed one; only asked for an extension once, early on in the project).

If I have a question or need clarification on something, I will reach out to you. I very seldom need to do that, and the only times I’ve reached out to an author about something was when I actually found a small mistake or imprecision in the text.

One thing has been bugging me before, though: please, do not send me amendments to the text while I’m translating, unless they are small details relative to ages, places, or names. I cannot be expected to retranslate entire lines of dialogue without adding to the original quote we agreed on. If there are many changes, we could renegotiate a deadline and a quote that would reflect the increased word count due to retranslating the amended passages.

I will take great care in translating your work, and I will make sure that the tone, style, and meaning are conveyed accurately. However, there are some changes to be expected. In order to add value to your work and make it more accessible to a French audience, I may ask you to rewrite your blurb, or I will localise it. You can read why in THIS article.

During the editing process

Once the translation is complete, the proofreader and I will move on to the editing process. This usually takes two rounds. The first time around, we edit and rewrite some sentences entirely. The second reading is a last proofreading session. I usually receive a Word document with amendments that I have to review, so I can keep an overview of what I could do better next time.

Sometimes, you may want to publish the book at a later stage and you will wait several weeks before sending it to a proofreader. This is acceptable as well, but I will still charge you when I deliver my first translation draft.

After I deliver the book

Once the book is complete and ready to be published, please let me know. I’ll be able to have a look at the cover, your sale page on Amazon, and the page on your website. I can also post the cover in my portfolio and share the link with my network and French reviewers that I know.

I also like to take screenshots of social proof when your book shoots up to the top of the charts. As I’m sure you know, it’s a great boost for the ego, but it will also help me advertise my work to other authors out there.

Other services to consider

In addition to my literary translation services, I can also help you translate pages on your website, social media posts, or newsletters for French readers. A caveat, though: these services do come at a higher rate than my literary translation services, but they are designed to help you see a return on your investment. I am happy to discuss these options with you in more detail if you are interested. I can also do that even if I’m not your regular French translator!

Just drop me a note in the contact box.


Thank you for considering me as your French literary translator. I look forward to working with you and helping you to share your work with a wider audience. Together, we can create something truly special that resonates with readers both in France and around the world.


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My last published translation

Opposites attract in this historical romance.

What's next?

A tale of several quirky sisters who never thought they would attract husbands.