Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

Should you translate your own books?

What’s the worst nightmare of a polyglot writer? Translating their own novels. This is not a joke – this is reality. (At least in my case.)

Reasons why you might want to translate the book on your own:

  • You are guaranteed that the book won’t lose its soul after translation. If you are highly critical of any changes applied to your text by the editor, and think that anyone other than you will probably do your text more harm than good, then you should translate the book by yourself.
  • You will save money. Translations are costly, and the longer the book, the more money its translation will need. If you can’t afford a translation, you have only two options: either translate it yourself or somehow find the money for translation (e.g. fundraisers, seeking sponsors, taking part in contests etc.).

Reasons why you might consider to ask a translator’s help:

  • Translating is rewriting your book in another language. All the worries you had about using the right words will resurface with even greater power. You might start questioning the text and feel attempted to fix it. If you give in, you will never translate it till the end. When you translate, you must conquer the inner author and become a translator and editor, which is not always that easy.
  • Translating is time consuming. The time you could spend on writing a new book is spent on translating. In addition, experienced translators are much more efficient than newbies, and use professional software that simplifies the translation process. Unless translating is your “real job”, you probably don’t have enough experience and appropriate tools to do it correctly.
  • Post-translation editing is optional in case of a professional translation. The translator has to make sure that the text they are translating is readable. This means that you don’t need to worry about language correctness. What you need to worry about is the structure and transparency of the text – it should be edited at least once before being seen by the translator. If you translate on your own, however, you might need to have someone edit your text before and after translation.

Here are some additional matters to consider:

If you are translating on your own:

  • You might feel tempted to give automated translators a chance and this… is a good idea. Two heads are better than one. It’s always easier and faster to correct a translation that’s already done rather than translating on your own word by word.
  • Be sure to divide the work in chunks: know how much you need to translate per day and stick to it.
  • Be very patient. Don’t make erratic goals like “I will finish next month”.

If you have hired a translator:

  • Keep in mind that if you are trying to save money on translation, the quality of the text might not be very good.
  • If you are asking to translate more than 50 pages it’s a good idea to ask the translator for a discount.
  • Ask the translator if they are familiar with punctuation in the foreign language. If not, post translation editing is required.
  • It is ok to ask about the progress of the work, but do not rush the translator. They are doing what they can.
  • Keep in mind that if the text is difficult, the translation will be slower.
  • If there is anything that the translator should pay special attention to, tell them before they start their work.
  • Keep in mind that for the translation your book is not as special as it is for you; don’t expect them to put it on the pedestal and ignore all their other projects because they have your book.
  • Always pay the translator for their work and do it on time. It might seem shocking, but yes, there are people who pay the translator three months or even half a year later. Don’t do it. It’s really a source of frustration for the translator.

I hope that this article helped you decide whether you should translate your own books or let someone else do it. Remember that there are no wrong choices. If you have translated the half of your book and are tired, it’s ok to contact a translator to finish your job. I generally believe that indie authors don’t need to do everything on their own and should delegate others to help them. And what is your opinion? 🙂

Stay inspired!

Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

Priceless tip to overcome the fear of a blank page

You have a brilliant idea… that is, until you see a blank page in front of you. Suddenly, the idea is gone, and you are confused, stuck and angry. If this situation rings a bell, then this post is for you.

The problem with the blank page is thing we associate it with, which is lack of ideas, emotions, words. It might be so, because we all have heard the Latin idiom tabula rasa, meaning blank slate, and often used to describe empty minds. Blank slate is not very different from a blank page , and it’s natural to feel like you’ve lost track of what you were planning to write if you keep looking at it.

Here is my tip on what to do if the blank page scares you:

Don’t focus on it. You won’t find your story there. Your story is not on the blank page. It is in your mind. This is why you must look within yourself. Focus on what is in your head and heart!

The white page is merely a container, into which you will be pouring your story. Imagine you wanted to make marmalade. But instead of preparing the fruits, sugar and other ingredients, you’d keep looking at the marmalade jar, wondering how to turn the inside air into marmalade…

I learned this lesson from Rachel Chen:

“Sometimes I had an idea of what I wanted to draw, but when I looked at the blank page in front of me, the idea was suddenly gone. Blank pages overwhelm people, because they are empty spaces that must be filled. And as we know, each and every empty space has an infinite potential of what it can become. It is very overwhelming for a sensitive artist. I realized I had to look inside me to find the drawing I wanted to draw, instead of letting the blank page guide me in its confusing way.”

I realized that it had a lot to do with writing, and could help many writers scared of the white page. So, I wrote this post! I hope that it helps. Stay inspired!

Posted in Be a smart writer

How to measure writing progress?

Writing goals are big goals. And achieving big goals often takes time and patience. We live in a world of instant gratification and often feel discouraged, when we’ve been working on one project for years and it’s still far away from finished (or perfect).

Tracking our writing progress regularly and celebrating small victories is very important. This post will help you how to measure your writing progress in terms of quality and quantity.

MEASURING QUALITY

  • Re-read your older works. The contrast between your current and earlier works will show you your newest skills. Sometimes we are not even aware of how much we grew as writers until we get the chance to re-read something we’ve written years before. If you haven’t cleaned your writing folder yet, do it now!
  • Ask a professional (!) to write an extended analysis and review of your work. I am suggesting a professional, because most readers who write reviews provide their subjective opinions.
  • Write a list of creative writing skills that you’ve acquired and feel proud of. Think about each of them. How do they make you a better writer?

MEASURING QUANTITY

The word count is just one of many parameters that you can use to measure the amounts of text that you have written. Here are others:

If you are writing / have written:

  • Number of chapters written:

  • Number of chapters edited:

  • Number of books finished and waiting for editing:

  • Number of books finished and edited:

  • Number of books sent to the publishing house:

  • Number of publishing houses you contacted, regardless of the result:

If you have published at least one book:

  • Number of books sold (total):

  • Number of books sold (to libraries):

  • Number of positive reviews (from friends and family):

  • Number of positive reviews (from strangers):

  • Number of times your book was added to the wish list:

  • Number of results when you google your book:

  • Number of results when you google your name:

  • Number of social media on which you appear as author:

  • Number of authors meetings (in libraries, schools etc.):

  • Number of people who contacted you only because you are an author:

If you create free online content / are building a fanbase:

  • Number of views on your blog / homepage / Wattpad:

  • Number of comments on your blog / homepage / Wattpad:

  • Number of likes / reblogs:

  • Number of fans on all social media / newsletter subscribers:

And you? What ways do you use when you want to track your writing progress? Share them under this post with me and the rest of the readers! Stay inspired.

Posted in Be a smart writer, Writer's life, Writer's problems

Commenting on EU copyright law: I’d rather have my copyrights respected than laugh at memes: what about you?

Do you care more about having hilarious memes or about your copyrights being respected?

If you had the chance to really earn money for the content you are creating, thanks to copyright protection, would you still vote against the new EU copyright law?

Before you contact the European Parliament (as Wikipedia suggest you), think about the consequences – especially if you are a content creator.

People are panicking because of the article 13 of EU’s new copyright law: “a regulation that will force websites to filter out text, audio, photos and video shared by users against an ever-expanding database of copyrighted works” (source). Yes, it might be the end of our precious and beloved memes, as well as parodies, remixes, fan videos etc. But it’s a blessing in disguise: it will protect us, creators.

I sometimes look at fanpages here and there and my blood is boiling when I see that 90-100% of the posts contain stolen materials that breach copyrights. It’s like taking a dress from a clothing shop without paying for it and going for a photoshoot, getting likes and follows and oh, not returning the dress but keeping it in your wardrobe. That’s exactly what’s happening when you post an entry with a copyright-protected image.

The creation of digital media is a new type of work. It requires time, efforts and skill. And it deserves to be paid. There are so many talented people on the internet right now, writers, editors, artists, musicians – but they won’t earn they money they deserve because consumers think that everything posted on the internet is free and can be used as they please. 

Consumers must learn to differentiate between the public domain / creative commons materials and protected materials. Memes, remixed and fan videos can still be created as long as various licenses are respected.

People are earning more and more, eating better, working out under the eye of trained coaches, spending money on membership cards, events, tickets, holidays, gifts, clothes and other material possessions. And yet, they are thieves on the internet. Why is that so? Because “nobody will notice”, “this is just for private use”, “I’m not important enough to be sued?”. Or maybe because “an e-book is not material anyways”? If you print an e-book than you’ve stolen, it’s not different from stealing a book from a book shop. Then why is everyone doing it? It’s not poverty – it’s greed. 

The European Union’s copyright law will help non-creators understand that digital media are goods no different from material things that are available in shops. I am sure that after the copyright protections are launched, more and more content creators will start earning.

Writers – wouldn’t it be awesome to stop worrying about your newest book getting pirated as soon as you release it? Wouldn’t you want all the illegal copies of your sweat and tears removed from torrents?

Personally, I really have no intention to write or sign any petition against the EU copyright law. I think that it’s there to protect me. I really care more about my copyrights being respected rather than having hilarious memes, remixes and fan videos.

What about you?

Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

8 benefits of cleaning your writing folder and how to do it

Let’s skip the introduction to this topic and pass straight to the benefits of cleaning your writing folder:

  1. You will be able to track your writing progress through the years.
  2. You will understand what is your preferred genre.
  3. You will get an idea in which direction your future writing might go.
  4. You will learn which works are the most important to you.
  5. You will learn which works can be continued, reused or discarded.
  6. You will understand why it’s ok to finish just a percentage of what you started.
  7. You will declutter your mind.
  8. Your to-write list will become shorter and easier to tackle.

Here is how to prepare for cleaning your writing older:

  • Step 1: be patient! Cleaning your writing folder, especially if you have hundreds of poorly named files that you haven’t touched for years, can be a daunting task! Don’t expect that you can clean it all in one sitting! A realistic goal is 2 weeks.
  • Step 2: have a loving attitude towards your past writer self and the work they  created. Remember that you wouldn’t be here where you are now without them and their works. Don’t beat yourself for having had a poor style or having lacked persistence. Instead, embrace your writing past, learn the lessons it brings you and try to make out of it as much as you can!
  • Step 3: understand that cleaning your writing folder might change you. E.g. you might want to start writing in a different genre or drastically shorten the length of your stories. That’s ok. Listen to your heart and go with the flow! When you write what you truly want to write, writing will be easier and more enjoyable!
  • Step 4: realize that cleaning your writing folder is like gold panning: you’ll want to keep the gold and discard the dirt. Don’t feel bad about throwing away stones and debris.

Once you’ve prepared – start cleaning!

  • Step 1: Create a new writing folder with subfolders clearly indicating the type of content that will be stored within. For example: novel projects, short stories, finished works, unusable writings, recycling resources. Trust your gut on this issue: if you have lots of poetry and fanfictions, obviously create folders “poetry” and “fanfictions”! Subfolders “work” and “personal” can also be useful, if you threw your diaries, letters, resumes and e-mails together with the writing.
  • Step 2: Start grouping files into appropriate subfolders; you are free to begin with whichever type of writing you want, but my advice is to group finished works and current projects first, as that’s the easiest part.
  • Step 3: Don’t skip your abandoned story ideas and story beginnings/endings/fragments. Be honest with yourself and decide whether you will continue the story one day. If not, you have two options: either recycle it or delete it. Be mindful, but firm when making the decision.
  • Step 4: A word about recycling writing: it’s the best option if you have started lots of valuable stories but for some reason haven’t finished them and know that they don’t have enough potential to become separate books. Learn to gather similar ideas together and glue unrelated fragments. This will help you create instant, brand new short stories that you can modify, rewrite and edit. Yes, it will require work, but it’s better than starting from scratch. And you won’t feel guilty about wasting what’s already in your writing folder. Recycled stories can be used as free content or promotional material:
  • Step 5: After you have finished cleaning the folders, spend some time thinking about your writing legacy. Right now you have a clear picture of what you have created throughout these years: you know what types of stories you tend to write most often (this can help you find your main genre and niche!) and how your writing improved – which is much more important than your overall word count and the finished:unfinished work ratio.
  • Step 6: Re-assess your to-write list. You might have changed your priorities because you found stories that are just a paragraph away from finishing. Also, your old writings might have inspired you and now you can’t put them down. It’s ok! As long as you are focused on finishing what you’ve started, you can jump between projects without worrying.
  • Step 7: Realize that if writing brought you joy and/or improved your writing skills, it had purpose. I’ve read somewhere before the sentence “not everything is meant to be published” and I couldn’t agree more. The fact that you won’t publish a fanfiction you truly loved doesn’t mean that it was pointless!

That’s more or less this: let me know in the comment section under the post how did your cleaning go and what you’ve discovered! Everyone, stay inspired!