Let me admit it.
I have been an unabashed fan of Babelcube for quite some time. On 25 January 2015, I first shared my first impressions openly on this blog titled “Translate your books without spending a dime: the Babelcube way”.
Three months later, I was elaborating upon the whole translation market through my second book in the “Without Spending A Dime” series called “How to Translate Your Books WITHOUT SPENDING A DIME.” Published on all major e-Book platforms in April 2015, this 102-page tome devotes almost 30 pages discussing the strategy to get your books translated and marketed by Babelcube.
Sure, I have had reasons to be pleased with Babelcube. Within a year of opening my account with them, I had two of my books (“How to Cook in a Jiffy” and “Healthy Cooking in a Jiffy”) translated into Portuguese, and one book (“Home Style Indian Cooking in a Jiffy”) translated into Italian and Spanish. Seven more titles are currently being translated, while I’m in the process of signing three more contracts. The languages covered are: French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.
Sales are trickling in and I have been quite pleased with the results obtained specially on Google Play, Scribd and Apple where my translated books are beating my English language sales hollow. In fact, this experience has been so exhilarating that I have now decided to get out wholesale from KDP Select and go out to all other major e-book platforms like Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, Scribd, and Tolino.
From the time I joined Babelcube, I have been seeing subtle improvements. Earlier they couldn’t handle paperback versions, for example, but now they can.
Only last week, they have added a new feature in which you, the author, can see their entire translator data base, language-wise, and contact the translators you prefer directly. This is great because earlier you could only add your books and wait till some translator contacted you but not the other way around. I have immediately taken advantage of this new feature to find translators in French, German and Japanese, and in just three days!
So where is Babelcube fumbling?
The first instance was when my Italian translator (for my book ‘Home Style Indian Cooking In A Jiffy’) pointed out that the TOC (Table of Contents) was repeated TWICE in all the published versions on all e-Book platforms.
Twice? I was aghast. The translator hadn’t done that, nor did I. So obviously, Babelcube was inserting a table of content in addition to the one made by us (and that too an incomplete one).
I realized that this is a bug with the Draft2Digital software which I also use (for my English language books) and where you have to check boxes to indicate if you want Draft2Digital to insert a Title Page, the Copyright page or the Table of Contents. For my English language books, I do all these myself and so leave the boxes unchecked. But for the translated books, Draft2Digital apparently doesn’t care if you (or Babelcube in this case) have checked those boxes or not.
This was serious and had affected all four of my translated books. So I wrote to Mark Dresdner CEO Babelcube on 25 April 2015 to please get this sorted out soon. There has been NO reply till date!
The second problem was that the paperback version was merely repeating all these formatting errors. This was intolerable because these versions cost three times more, on an average, than the e-Book versions. In fact, the TOC that goes into paperbacks should carry real page numbers (which the e-Book formats don’t need to as they have a clickable TOCs). So ideally, the Babelcube system shouldn’t offer to convert your translated e-Books in to paperbacks and in fact should refuse them till they are properly formatted for the latter version.
Again, I complained to Mark Dresdner on 25 April 2015 but to no avail.
Pending the system-corrections, I requested Babelcube to unpublish my translated paperbacks immediately. But even that they have NOT been able to do.
So obviously Babelcube is fumbling. They are probably becoming too big and too busy too soon to take these small remedial steps that are so necessary for salvaging theirs as well as ours reputation.
So for the sake of all us poor authors and translators I just wait, wringing my hands, and praying and hoping that Babelcube recovers and GETS WELL SOON.
However, I shall NOT be publishing any more translated paperback versions of my books till then.
Has your experience with Babelcube been any better?
Do share your favourite tips and impressions.
I’ll love to hear from you.