Notice that Victorian woman on the cover? She looks almost exactly as I picture Annie Fuller, the main protagonist in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series. Which is lovely, since this is the cover of the new German translation of Maids of Misfortune, the first book in that series. Available now for pre-order, this edition is coming out in print and ebook in exactly a month, on September 2, 2014.
So how did this happen?
As an independent author, I knew that getting my books translated into foreign languages would be more complicated than if I had a traditional publishing contract and/or agent. And, while I knew of other indie authors, like David Gaughran and Joanna Penn, who were working to find translators on their own (often using a royalty splitting agreement), or using a distributor like Babelcube, which matches up authors and translators, this seemed time-consuming and therefore was not something I put high on my “to-do” list. It was more on my “someday maybe I will do this” list.
Then I was contacted by AmazonCrossing.
AmazonCrossing is the second imprint that Amazon launched (after AmazonEncore), and it was set up in 2010 with the stated purpose of finding and translating foreign language works into English. One study that tracks translations of foreign language books into English found that by 2012, AmazonCrossing had become the second largest publisher of translated books in the US. AmazonCrossing’s list of books by publication date reveals that in 2012 they also began to put out German language editions of some of their own Amazon imprint books, including Kindle Singles.
Then, in late 2013, AmazonCrossing began to reach out to indie authors who published through KDP––authors who had books they thought would sell well in German. I was one of those fortunate authors.
In December of 2013, I accepted this offer, and in a few weeks a translator, Katja Blum, was hired (I will publish an interview with Ms. Blum later this month). Late in March, 2014, the translation was complete and the book moved into the review and copyediting phases (with input from me––for example I asked for a change in the translation of the title). In the beginning of July, I received the above cover to approve, and the book went up for pre-order two weeks later, to be available September 2. Nine months from offer to publication. With virtually no effort on my part. Smile.
While I know personally of one other independent author who is also having her book published in German by AmazonCrossing, if you look at the list of German editions coming out under this imprint in the past few months, it is clear we are not alone. The day when Maids of Misfortune comes out, for example, there are four other German translations of indie books being published as well (all contemporary romances.)
What this will mean in terms of sales, I don’t know. I can only assume that Amazon did its research ahead of time and they wouldn’t have gone to the expense of translating Maids of Misfortune if they didn’t think it would sell. My hope, of course, is that the Germans will enjoy the Dienstmädchen im Unglück as much as readers have enjoyed it as Maids of Misfortune and that this German edition will be a wild success, with a German public clamoring for Uneasy Spirits, next book in the Victorian San Francisco mystery series.
To help that happen, if you should know anyone you think would like to read the German edition, do pass on this information. Better yet, if you know someone you think might like a free copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review, let me know!
Meanwhile, stay tuned for my reports back on how my German adventure plays out.
M. Louisa Locke, August 2, 2014