Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond


At the recent ALTA conference, many people were griping about rights. And it makes sense. It can be the hardest part about being a literary translator. Trying to work through the system to find out if anyone is allowed to translate this story, let alone if you personally can get permission. One publisher talked about their encyclopedia-esque phone book of foreign rights departments, full of tiny, out-dated information that you could only read with a magnifying glass. Another publisher said that tracking down proper rights was akin to (pardon our language) a "f***ing goat rodeo." Apt.

So, I suppose it really shouldn't be surprising that two months after first reaching out to a small French publishing house, after filling out their website's contact page and emailing their general address and emailing their rights address and sending their foreign rights manager a message through LinkedIn, I still haven't heard a thing. I'll be calling them today.

If there's still no response, well, I'll be in France early next year. Maybe I should just go knock on their door.