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Thread: TRANSLATORS READ: Possible Translation Publication

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Default TRANSLATORS READ: Possible Translation Publication

    Hi all,

    After discovering yet another unauthorized reproduction of spcnet.tv translation work on Amazon's Kindle store (which I had Amazon remove yet again), I began to get rather ticked off and started to think of ways for us to 'go legit' and protect our translation rights.

    I took the initiative of contacting Mr. Graham Earnshaw, who as most of you probably know translated the Book and the Sword for Jinyong, and got it published. He suggested that he could reach out to Minhe Publishing (the copyright holder for Jinyong works) and Mr. Louis Cha, and help us start up formal publication of our works. The amount of money we'd make would likely be very small (he noted to me that his royalties for Book and Sword never exceeded 4-digits), but it would 'legitimize' us and allow us to protect our work. We would do distribution either through the Kindle Store or through other means, and maybe, if everything worked out, we could set up a 'one stop shop' for English translations of Wuxia, since we have translated so many Gulong novels as well, and a few of other authors.

    I think the Condor Trilogy would be our first target, since those three works have the highest profile within Jinyong's literature. I have already spoken to foxs individually, since he contributed so much to the trilogy in particular, and foxs likes this idea.

    Of course, if we ever make money on this, there would be 'profit sharing' (again, not expecting much money) based on contribution and/or overall effort, but at this point, I think it's too premature to be talking about percentages or formulas, etc. All of us have done our translation work for the purpose of expanding the reach of wuxia novels to the public, and I think this would be a great way of expanding the reach of our work even further (to the world, perhaps!), while protecting our work.

    I would like to hear from various translators, especially the ones involved in the Condor Heroes trilogy, on if they would be willing/amenable to this proposal. I'm not going to go into discussions of percentages/formulas right now; I just want to hear who objects, and who does not. If you object, that is totally fine, we would probably end up retranslating the work you did independently. But I would hope that in the same spirit of SPCNET collaboration that led us to finish so many works, that we can all work together in making our work public and 'legitimatized'.

    I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

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    Senior Member whiteskwirl's Avatar
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    It sounds like a great plan.

    Who would be paying for the translation rights?

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    Senior Member Grundle's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good idea.
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    Member Xaari's Avatar
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    I love this idea because the Condor Trilogy and other countless translations all deserve publication, and I would be more than willing to pay to read them. I think that most translators never gave a thought to getting paid for their work, so hopefully there won't be any problems with potential profits. (I know I'd probably faint at the very thought of getting any wuxia fan translations published and would think of nothing else.) Wow, it's very kind of Mr. Graham Earnshaw to be willing to help SPCNET's efforts. I think many of us are looking forward to a day when no one can get away with stealing the translations here.

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiteskwirl View Post
    It sounds like a great plan.

    Who would be paying for the translation rights?
    We would probably have some sort of profit-sharing mechanism with Mr. Cha. Given publishers' general reluctance to publish wuxia, I think that digital publishing through a newly formed publishing co. of our own would be better.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

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    Senior Member whiteskwirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    We would probably have some sort of profit-sharing mechanism with Mr. Cha. Given publishers' general reluctance to publish wuxia, I think that digital publishing through a newly formed publishing co. of our own would be better.
    Yeah, but you will have to buy the rights to translate it. They're not just going to say, yeah, go ahead and publish your translation and then we'll share the profits. You have to buy the translation rights first.

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiteskwirl View Post
    Yeah, but you will have to buy the rights to translate it. They're not just going to say, yeah, go ahead and publish your translation and then we'll share the profits. You have to buy the translation rights first.
    It's a long story, but anyhow, that's what I'll be working with Graham on handling. There's several ways to skin this cat.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

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    Senior Member HuangYushi's Avatar
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    I'm OK with my portions of Xia Ke Xing (from Chapter 2 up to and including the initial part of Chapter 10, as posted on Wuxiapedia; link given in my signature), so long as proper credit is given. Thank you.
    Last edited by HuangYushi; 09-24-11 at 10:59 PM.
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    Senior Member Ian Liew's Avatar
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    While I like the idea of the translations being protected in some way, wouldn't the fact that the original material being translated is copyrighted render any reproduction of our translations illegal anyway? Even if our translations are not our property, and exist without any rights, the original Jin Yong novel would be protected, and that would give Amazon the right to remove the offending material. On the flipside, even if our translations were published and became our property, Amazon would still need to be contacted and the offending materials removed should we see unauthorised reproductions for sale, so the situation doesn't change at all.

    In addition to that, the idea of profit-sharing for something which is pretty much amateur (by that I mean as a hobby, rather than as a professional, and does not reflect on the quality of translation at all) opens up a whole new can of worms. Do we have rules as to which translations are publishable and which are not? Would we need guidelines as to a certain level of quality before a translator is allowed to translate a novel? Would there be two classes of translator - the elite level where the works are of publishable quality, and the common level where anyone can attempt to translate, and if so, who decides who goes where? The Legend of Condor Heroes, like many others, has been really well translated, and is worthy of being published in its own right in terms of the quality of English and accuracy, but there are others out there which look like they were run through a translation application. There was even a case where the first few chapters of a novel were really well-done, and I loved reading it, and the the translator took a break, and someone else continued it, and it was of a completely different quality which, while gratefully accepted as an amateur effort to share wuxia, would not be acceptable as a published material in order to do justice to the original novel. How do we judge whose work can be published, and do we have a right to? Unless the copyright holders of the original translation officially hire people to vet the forums and take their pick of translations to publish (and I'm not sure they want to spend the time) it's going to open up a can of worms at our community level.

    Then in practice, would we still keep our translations available here free of charge when there's an identical published novel out there, meaning people have to pay to read the translations? Would anyone buy the published version when they can log on here and read it free of charge? This is a small matter, of course, as the income factor is obviously secondary to the need to protect the translations from unauthorised plagiarism.

    Basically to me it all sounds decent, but the gains need to be tangible (in that it really makes a difference to the frequency of unauthorised reproductions) in order to even think about tacking the sensitive issue of categorising the translations. Most of them benefit from reader-contributed input as well, and would this result in people being less willing to help out others who have made mistakes unless they get recognition (and a cut of the profits) for their input? We have a great community here who do this for the love of material and a desire to share the experience with as many people as possible, and everyone approaches it with a selfless attitude. While the income from the publishing is not likely to be material, it does represent a numerical representation of the perceived value of each person's contribution, and this might affect the morale of some people. The last thing I would want was for some people here to get upset about how people officially categorised their work, regardless of the quality of English.

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    Junior Member jawshoowa's Avatar
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    I'm really encouraged to see these discussions taking place. From the perspective of a translator, this is a very positive undertaking. It gives translators a chance to distribute their work via new mediums and platforms, perhaps reach new audiences, and may give us some token compensation for our efforts.

    It has been a dream of mine to do something similar with my Wolong Sheng translation once it reaches substantial length, but I lack the industry knowledge to track down copyright holders, and to know what fair prices are for licensing a work, and/or royalties.

    Ren Wo Xing, once you get things worked out, would you be open to sharing some of the mechanics of this process with other translators so they can work out similar deals?

    And Ian has made some good points about quality. While all translators' efforts are really appreciated, it might be harmful to flood the market with lower quality work. Better to have a committee of longtime participants work out a list of the most publishable works.

    I don't want to sound like I am discouraging translators from getting their work out there. One thing that makes this forum great is that it is inclusive and participatory. My only concern is that the reading public will undoubtedly view a series of wuxia e-books in English, all issued by one group (SPCNET Publishing?), as a "brand". Therefore, it is important to think about building a brand that will encourage reader devotion and loyalty. Ultimately, this is the best way to serve the cause of wuxia translations in English.

    A final recommendation: it might be good to think about appropriate marketing for these books. Not to be overly complicated about it, but basic press releases and posts to relevant forums/blogs would all help raise awareness and boost potential readership.

    I'm sure we're in good hands with Ren Wo Xing. Just thought I'd throw in my two (or three) cents worth.

    Cheers everyone!
    我不要最後才知道 - 張震嶽

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    RE Ian: Your observations are spot on. To be quite honest, none of the works that we have completed here are publishable "as is"; they were done by numerous different translators with numerous different styles and levels of ability, as well as different levels of footnoting. Graham Earnshaw and/or myself will go through each novel in its entirety, editing it to reflect a similar level of correctness, style, quality, footnoting, and accuracy. This will reflect a significant level of work, and in some cases as you noted, entire chapters will have to be retranslated (again, probably by myself) from scratch, as they were were machine-translated then rearranged, which is not acceptable for published material. At least initially, decisions on which translations are publishable and which are not will be done by myself with input from the translators, to avoid 'death by committee'. We'll start with the Condor Trilogy, and proceed from there. A lot of the other questions will be resolved at a later point of time.

    RE jawshoowa: To be honest, at this point, the main reason this is possible is because Graham has a pre-existing relationship with Jinyong and Minhe, due to his previous work with Book & Sword. I'm not sure about other books, and/or how hard it will be to acquire those translation rights.

    I do agree that we will need a 'brand' for these books, but would like to avoid using 'SPCNET' until I actually have a chance to talk to this website's owner, simply because that's a trademarked name of its own.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

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    Senior Member IcyFox's Avatar
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    I'd suggest we get an official Spcnet-collaboration version of the translation up on the Amazon Kindle Store as our 1st goal. That would mean that our translation is legitimately recognized by both Jin Yong and the western publishers, and that would also solve the problem of having to get Amazon to remove those pirated copies every once in a while.

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    Senior Member IcyFox's Avatar
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    Also, the question about who's works are "good enough" to be published, I'd say that if Jin Yong has no objections, we can just publish as-is. The Condor Trilogy, in it's current form, seems to me to be easily understandable enough by any English-literate person.

    BUT! I have one caveat. Whatever name the official publication is gonna be called, I would go as far as to insist that they be subtitled by their popular names, e.g. ~ "Return of the Condor Heroes" - so that readers who are not familiar with their better-translated but more obscure names can still find these works.

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    Senior Member Grundle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IcyFox View Post
    Also, the question about who's works are "good enough" to be published, I'd say that if Jin Yong has no objections, we can just publish as-is. The Condor Trilogy, in it's current form, seems to me to be easily understandable enough by any English-literate person.

    BUT! I have one caveat. Whatever name the official publication is gonna be called, I would go as far as to insist that they be subtitled by their popular names, e.g. ~ "Return of the Condor Heroes" - so that readers who are not familiar with their better-translated but more obscure names can still find these works.
    If I have to publish my work under "Twins of Brothers" I will shoot myself. That isn't even proper English, and only the word "twins" is in the actual title. I will fight to the death for the proper title.
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    Senior Member IcyFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grundle View Post
    If I have to publish my work under "Twins of Brothers" I will shoot myself. That isn't even proper English, and only the word "twins" is in the actual title. I will fight to the death for the proper title.
    Well I've had no hand in your translation work, so I won't presume to tell you which title is less worthy of self-inflicted shooting.

    My issue is with the Condor Trilogy itself, because everyone who knows about it generally uses its popular name, like "Legend/Return of the Condor Heroes" and "Heavenly Sword & Dragon Sabre". So it would be a lot easier to find on Google etc. than say, "Divine Eagle, Gallant Knight" (which is a terrible translation, by the way). On top of that, this is really a strategy to stop would-be pirates from denying that they know the existence of our official translation works.

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Thanks for your input.

    Quote Originally Posted by IcyFox View Post
    I'd suggest we get an official Spcnet-collaboration version of the translation up on the Amazon Kindle Store as our 1st goal. That would mean that our translation is legitimately recognized by both Jin Yong and the western publishers, and that would also solve the problem of having to get Amazon to remove those pirated copies every once in a while.
    I agree, Kindle is my first goal in publication, followed possibly by iBooks, Android Books, etc. However, all of this is contingent on getting the rights to do so, as otherwise this entire exercise is pointless.

    Quote Originally Posted by IcyFox View Post
    Also, the question about who's works are "good enough" to be published, I'd say that if Jin Yong has no objections, we can just publish as-is. The Condor Trilogy, in it's current form, seems to me to be easily understandable enough by any English-literate person.
    After close review of the translations, I can say that the Trilogy is, categorically, not ready for publication. By fan standards, it is very high quality; by publishing standards, it isn't anywhere near ready. A cursory review of the chapters shows numerous grammatical errors, lack of footnoting, and not a few translation errors as well. The standard for publication is significantly higher than just that of being easily understood.

    BUT! I have one caveat. Whatever name the official publication is gonna be called, I would go as far as to insist that they be subtitled by their popular names, e.g. ~ "Return of the Condor Heroes" - so that readers who are not familiar with their better-translated but more obscure names can still find these works.
    I agree that there needs to be a way for readers to be able to easily locate the names. This is more of a marketing issue, and will be kicked waaaay down the line. I will also take into account translator preferences, but again, this is way, way down the line.

    FYI, to keep things formal and above-board, in the coming days, I will draft an 'articles of association' document for the translators involved to sign on to, so to speak. It will set the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved and be our operating document.
    Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 09-29-11 at 11:54 AM.
    Blademaster. Hero. General. He was the best there ever was.
    Butcher. Murderer. Traitor. All that he loved, he had destroyed.
    Matheius Randas.
    That Merciless Blade - Legend of the Arctic Wolf.

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    Senior Member IcyFox's Avatar
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    Naturally, but it'd also be good to make our plans early, so that with a clear vision of what our goals are, we'll be in a better position to negotiate with both Jin Yong's side and the western publishers.

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IcyFox View Post
    Naturally, but it'd also be good to make our plans early, so that with a clear vision of what our goals are, we'll be in a better position to negotiate with both Jin Yong's side and the western publishers.
    We don't need no stinkin' publishers, as we're going to focus (at least for now) exclusively on digital distribution. Publishers means we get at most 50 cents per copy, and that's assuming they even want to; I have it on fairly good authority that they aren't really interested.

    Here is the timeline as I see it:

    1) I will draft an 'articles of association' for the translators who worked on the novels that will be published, initially starting with the Condor Trilogy.
    2) With translator input, I will review the translations and settle on an 'agreed upon' style of translation (names, titles, etc.) along with Graham Earnshaw.
    3) I will go through every single chapter of the first book and, using the 'agreed upon' translation style, edit and properly footnote every chapter.
    4) With a 'ready to publish' manuscript in hand, Graham and I approach Jinyong with the complete work and discuss publication.
    Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 09-29-11 at 12:37 PM.

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    Senior Member Grundle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren Wo Xing View Post
    We don't need no stinkin' publishers, as we're going to focus (at least for now) exclusively on digital distribution. Publishers means we get at most 50 cents per copy, and that's assuming they even want to; I have it on fairly good authority that they aren't really interested.

    Here is the timeline as I see it:

    1) I will draft an 'articles of association' for the translators who worked on the novels that will be published, initially starting with the Condor Trilogy.
    2) With translator input, I will review the translations and settle on an 'agreed upon' style of translation (names, titles, etc.) along with Graham Earnshaw.
    3) I will go through every single chapter of the first book and, using the 'agreed upon' translation style, edit and properly footnote every chapter.
    4) With a 'ready to publish' manuscript in hand, Graham and I approach Jinyong with the complete work and discuss publication.
    That sounds like a lot of work for you to do RWX. Are you doing that review solo, or are you going to have help?

    There are some online tools that can make the "review and update to publishing standards" a more collaborative effort.
    --=={Grundle}==--

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    Moderator Ren Wo Xing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grundle View Post
    That sounds like a lot of work for you to do RWX. Are you doing that review solo, or are you going to have help?

    There are some online tools that can make the "review and update to publishing standards" a more collaborative effort.
    At least initially, I'll do the review solo, to be absolutely sure that the translation style remains consistent throughout the novel, to make sure that the 'first impression' is a good one. Afterwards, once the die has been set, a more collaborative effort might be an easier one.

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