Babelcube is fumbling!

Babelcube

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!

Babelcube

Babelcube

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.

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16 Comments

  • […] It looks like Babelcube handles the rest through Draft2Digital, which takes some time. In my case, the paperback was published just today, so I will come back to this topic in greater det… […]

  • The BEST way to use Babelcube is to upload formatted ePub files for your ebooks so Draft2Digital doesn’t add any front matter to them and you retain control of the look and functions of your ebook. The BEST way to make Babelcube paperbacks via CreateSpace is to properly format your own PDF file and upload that for the same reason. Babelcube is a genius idea but not executed very well.

    • Prasenjeet says:

      Thanks Jason. You certainly appear to have more experience dealing with Babelcube.:) By the way which software would you recommend to our readers for creation of ePub files?

  • […] the way, a few days back, I had e-mailed Mark Dresdner again sharing the link to the blog post. A few days later, his assistant replied. The reply was not convincing to me but anyway I have […]

  • Hi!

    Thank you for the info! I think Jason is right. It’s best to format the book yourself. I abhor the automatic formatting job that Babelcube does.

    How did you come across a Japanese translator? For me, it’s been like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

    • Prasenjeet says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Teddy! I too have started formatting my own books for both Print and e-books.

      As for contacting Japanese translators, a new feature on Babelcube now allows you to search for all enlisted translators and contact them. For this you will have to first click on the third button on the Top Menu (from the left) which says “Translators”.

      You will find that there are two boxes, one that says “Translates From” and the default language is English and the other that says “Translates into”. You can now select the language from the drop down menu and you can select any language including Japanese in this manner.

      When you hit the search button (without putting any keywords, if you so wish) you will get the entire list of Japanese translators registered on Babelcube. You can then check out the profiles of the translators and make them an offer only for one book. Yes, one book. I think this is meant to reduce spam on the Babelcube system. However, what you can still do is to make an offer for one book, which you think may interest the translator, and then ask the translator to pick up any book that he or she likes from your portfolio on Babelcube and then wait for their reply.

      I hope this helps. Best of luck.:)

  • Mary says:

    Thank you for this article. I just yesterday stumbled across Babelcube and have been researching everything I can find. What have you heard about the formatting problems of late? Has uploading the final translation in the ePub and PDF versions solved the problem? If you submit a fully formatted book, are there any conflicts with Babelcube’s processing? I had one of my novels professionally formatted into ePub when I went into Smashwords, and Apple rejected it so I had to do it over.

    What have people heard about the quality of the book translation itself? Are they well proofed? And lastly, what are the sales like in the foreign languages?

    • Prasenjeet says:

      Hi Mary. The formatting problems remain the same. However, there is a way to get around it. I upload the word document on Babelcube and let them convert that into an epub file. I have noticed that Babelcube does an excellent job of converting a word document into an epub file removing all html formatting errors. After that, I save the epub file on my laptop. Next, I use a free software called Calibre. I open the software, add the epub file and then right click on “edit file”. When the file opens up, on the left hand side, you will find a document labelled as “toc”. This is the “toc” that Babelcube automatically inserts. Then I go to “toc”, right click and click on “delete” to remove the table of contents. I save the edited epub file and re-upload it on Babelcube. As for the paperback version, I take the help of my translator to format it.

      Regarding the quality of translation, I always insist that the translator should pair up with another translator on Babelcube to act as an editor/proof reader. I do feel that Babelcube is really a zero risk model for authors to get their books translated. 🙂 I have done a full blog post which may be of use to you: http://www.publishwithprasen.com/translate-books-without-spending-dime-babelcube-way/

      Regards,

      Prasenjeet

      • Lee Tang says:

        An easy way to avoid a double-TOC on your ePub is not to include the original TOC in the word document. It works like a charm–Babelcube will insert a TOC based on the outline levels in your document.

        • Prasenjeet says:

          That’s what I do with some of my books. Or alternatively, you can use Calibre, a free software to delete the second TOC.

  • Mary says:

    Thank you! I am so grateful for your quick response. It seems the more I find out, the more questions crop up. I learn best by doing, I’m a button pusher. (“Hmm. Let’s see what this button/link/icon does.”) If I get this right, a basic foreign language WORD document that is your precious book goes to Babelcube, they do the equivalent of Smashwords’ Meatgrinder program only the final product comes back to you instead of being posted online? You review it, send it through Calibre and remove one of the two tables of content (that brings up another question) and reload it somehow?

    My new questions: Babelcube sends their product back to you before they put it online? (I like the sound of that. I discovered I don’t like to relinquish control of my books.)

    Second question: How do you know you are removing Babelcube’s TOC and not your own? When I format my ebooks, I put in a link to the table of contents and it is coded as toc [no caps] in the bookmarks. I know my TOC will work, so I don’t want to accidentally remove that.

    Third question: When you send it back corrected, there must be a different upload button. Otherwise, don’t you risk it going back through Babelcube’s program and getting yet another TOC?

    I’m sorry to bombard you with all these questions, but my hope is that someone else will find your blog just like I did and have the same questions I have.

    • Prasenjeet says:

      Hi Mary. Sorry for the delay in responding. When you open the e-book in Calibre, you will see a file on the left hand side labelled as “toc”. That is the toc that Babelcube inserts. Your “toc” will be somewhere in another file not labelled as “toc”. I know it sounds confusing but you will get used to it. When you upload the edited epub version, Babelcube doesn’t make any changes to it. It only makes changes to Word documents not to epub. I hope this helps. 🙂

  • Alex says:

    Does anyone have a problem logging in the babelcube?

    • Prasenjeet says:

      Hi Alex. Sorry for my delay in responding. Yes, the problem is common. Sometimes when Babelcube is making changes to its site, people seem to have trouble logging in. If the problem still persists, I suggest you contact the Babelcube staff and get things sorted out. 🙂

  • Senorita Law says:

    You should speak the truth about the royalties. They do not come directly from sales. 3 different sales entities take a percentage before it gets to you. You get half of what is left which is 15- 20% of the sales.

    • Prasenjeet says:

      You’re right Senorita. That is definitely a drawback. I’ve noticed that Amazon pays 35% (out of the sales) to Babelcube and Babelcube takes a further 15%. After that whatever is left is paid to the author (30%) and the translator (55%). I guess the same thing happens to books published to Apple, Kobo, etc. Babelcube uses Draft2digital to publish books on those platforms. I suspect Draft2Digital too takes away 10% from the sales otherwise it doesn’t make any business sense for them. However, Babelcube is also a zero risk model. Authors don’t pay anything upfront and the translators will hopefully recover their costs in 5 years’ time before the rights revert to the author. 🙂

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