Earning on Babelcube: My review as a translator
An evaluation of Babelcube's earning potential from a translator's perspective
What is Babelcube?
When I first learned about Babelcube while searching online for translation opportunities, the name itself struck me immediately.
Does it have anything to do with Babel, which is the Hebrew name for Babylon, so it could literally mean the cube of Babel, i.e. the cube of Babylon?
In fact, it could be remotely linked to Babylon.
Babelcube is a platform that is focused on translation by connecting authors who wish to have their books translated into other languages with translators who are interested in undertaking the project of translating those books.
Do you know the story of the Tower of Babel (i.e. Babylon)?
It is where God, in order to stop people from building the Tower of Babel, confused their languages, so they could no longer communicate with each other and continue building the mythical tower.
Since translation facilitates communication between people who speak a different language, this could explain the connection, which is to restore communication that was lost in ancient times.
Earn money by becoming a Vocal Media creator
So far, I have translated one book from English into Greek on Babelcube. The book is 10,000 words long and discusses the topic of mastering bitcoin. It was published on the 29th of January 2021, and according to its publishing status, it is available on various online platforms for readers to buy or read it, such as Apple, Kobo, Tolino, Scribd, and Google Play.
To be honest with you, and after reading several reviews about Babelcube on the Internet, either by authors or translators who have used the site, my expectations, in terms of earning as a translator from translating books with Babelcube, were from medium to very low.
There was only one exception among the online Babelcube reviews that I read.
It was posted on Goodreads by Prasenjeet Kumar, an author who has had his books translated through Babelcube. He interviewed Marcela, a translator on the Babelcube platform who had translated more than 100 books through Babelcube at the time that the interview was taken. She stated that she consistently earns 300 hundred US dollars from her Babelcube translations every month.
My earnings are far lower than that. In fact, in the six-month period after the publication of the book, I earned net royalties amounting to $5.57.
I know that many, if not most of you, will argue this is not even peanuts compared to what I could have made by translating 10,000 words as a freelance translator and getting paid an upfront per-word amount for the hours of my work.
I agree, partly, because who knows what I could have earned if the book itself ended up becoming a best-seller or if I promoted it heavily.
Another thing is that my translation will keep earning for a period of five years, according to the contract that I have signed with Babelcube and the author of the book/copyright holder. So I will only be able to tell exactly how much I have earned at the end of this period, or even further, if the term of the contract is extended.
What could affect an author’s/translator’s earnings on Babelcube
There are various factors that could affect how much an author and/or a translator can earn through Babelcube.
These factors are the following:
1) The title of the book. A truly eye-catching title can help a mediocre book sell more, whereas a poor title can cause a very good book to fail.
2) Quality content. Although there are many people who want to become book authors, very few have the actual talent to write quality content that will be appreciated by readers and translate into high sales. Big publishing houses literally wait around the corner to grab writing talent before anyone else, so it can be difficult to find high-caliber authors who choose to self-publish. Quality content also includes relevant content.
3) Poor promotion. Many best-sellers had to rely heavily on promotion, in order to become best-sellers in the first place. Thus, as a translator, you have to put yourself in the author’s shoes, and think about what they would do to maximize the sales of their book, and do the same with the translated book.
4) Translating one or a few books is not enough. In the aforementioned interview of Marcela, she had to translate more than 100 books to earn consistently with Babelcube. Translating only one or two books will not massively increase the chances of an author and/or translator to make a living through Babelcube.
5) The success of the same book translated into different languages depends on factors that apply to different markets. Every country has its own culture, and local consumers may have different tastes from one country to another, which can affect the popularity, reach, and sales of a translated book.
6) Different distribution channels have a different sales potential. The various distribution channels that are used by Babelcube are based on different models and have a different earning potential. For example, Scribd is a subscription-based platform, whereas Google Play is based purely on book sales. In my case, Amazon does not support Greek books, so my translation was not distributed through Amazon.
What is the biggest advantage of Babelcube
If you don’t do DIY book promotion, you can take advantage of book previews that are available on Google Play, which are a great marketing tool, since they give readers an idea of what the book is about and help them decide whether they are interested in it and buy it, or not.
On top of that, when the translated version of the book is published through Google Play, it is also made available through Google Books. This means that the book is very likely to rank high for relevant search queries in Google search results, which can help to increase the book’s sales.
Sources and further reading:
About the Creator
I have written articles for various websites, such as Helium, Hubpages, Medium, and many more.
Currently, I work as a translator. I have studied Tourism Management at college.
See you around on Vocal Media!
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.