Being a Translator on Babelcube—Does It Work?

As an author, I’ve been privileged to have as many as 64 titles (as of June 2020, and counting, which should be a record!) translated through Babelcube in six languages like French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese.  There is ample reason, therefore, for me to be rather pleased with this platform, notwithstanding the fact that the site has a few glitches, which I’ve already discussed here and here. There is no doubt that had Babelcube not existed, I could neither have so many titles translated nor could reach the non-English speaking market in as many as 50 countries.


In fact, I even wrote a book “How to Translate Your Books WITHOUT SPENDING A DIME” where I detail my experiences of working with both Babelcube and its team of translators. However, that book was written purely from my, the author’s, perspective. Funnily, I soon realised that more translators were reading my book than authors!

So, today’s blog interview is all about the translator’s perspective—what is it that attracts them to Babelcube, and what they can get out of it. Also, we address some common concerns— the biggest being that translators get paid ‘very little’ in the Babelcube scheme of things.

I need to address this, because many translators have contacted me and complained that they’ve earned very little on Babelcube. Some say they have translated like four books and have made only ten dollars so far. It’s heart-breaking to hear this.

To get some perspective on this issue, I decided to do some short-written interviews with translators who have been very active on Babelcube in the past few years.

In that background, let’s welcome our first guest — Marcela Gutiérrez Bravo.

Marcela is a prolific translator who has translated over 100 books through Babelcube, and is still going strong. I’ve worked with Marcela, and it was a very pleasant experience getting her to translate two of my books into Spanish (Mexican)—Celebrating Quiet People and Quiet Phoenix.

In the interview that follows we discuss what motivates her, some other benefits she finds in using Babelcube over other sites, and the things you can do if you’re not very happy with Babelcube.

N.B. I’m publishing this interview verbatim. So, please focus on the content than the language.

Prasenjeet: Since when did you start using Babelcube, and what were the benefits you found as a translator?

Marcela: I started back in 2014, I had not economic benefits and I wasn’t expecting them. I actually started due to the fact that I love reading and I wanted to put my second languages to the test.

Prasenjeet: What is your opinion about Babelcube’s split/share royalty model versus being paid upfront like on, or

Marcela: I worked with fiverr too, but I like better the way I work in Babelcube just because I can choose the texts I am going to translate.

I hate to be bored with anything I cannot learn from.

Prasenjeet: Is it possible to make a living as a translator from Babelcube alone? Is it a number’s game (i.e. the more books you translate, the more your income increases)?

Marcela: It has to do with several facts. It seems that translations to French are better sold, also the book has to be attractive in all ways.  The team to sell among the writer and the translator counts too.

I don’t think it is a great income. Actually it isn’t. Most of the times, but this is one of my hobbies and that’s why I enjoy doing it and earning so little money.  I have translated more than one hundred books and I am doing about 300 USD a month since the first year.

Prasenjeet: Do you see any benefits in opening multiple accounts (i.e. like one on Babelcube, one on Fiverr or or Is it easier to find work on Babelcube than on other sites?

Marcela: I had to give up to fiverr, I had to BE there and ready.  But if there is a need for work, well, that is up to every translator. What I like the most about bc (Babelcube) is that my name appears on line as a Translator and I have obtained other jobs due to that.

Now I only work with bc (Babelcube), but I also have a bookshop where I translate (my other income).

Prasenjeet: What are the other benefits to using Babelcube? I’ve seen translators applying for a job with a translation company after their work experience with Babelcube? Can experience with Babelcube help you in getting a job with a translation firm? What is your take on this?

Marcela: As I said before, yes.

I could teach in a University thanks to these books I translated. I am also a writer, and these add to my curriculum.

I really enjoy these benefits although it is not very easy to obtain them.  I am just fortunate for having this “vice”.

Prasenjeet:  Thank you so much, Marcela. I hope your experience motivates other translators.

—End of interview—

That’s interesting. $300 a month after translating 100 books may not sound much, but the benefits of reading what you like, embellishing your CV, and landing other better-paying work are factors that shouldn’t be ignored.

If you are a translator on Babelcube, therefore, I would like to learn from your experience. Please leave a comment below, and let me know if you like using Babelcube. Or, what else have you considered other than Babelcube? Would love to hear. Bye.

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