The publishing world can be intimidating, especially in translation. How do editors evaluate the quality of a literary translation? How can a translator best present their work to a reader who might not know the source language and culture? How does a translator get permission to work on a writer’s original text?
In this six-week introductory class, students will work on a translation sample with an eye towards publication, learn how to get the rights to publish a work, find the right presses and journals for a translation project, write a pitch letter, plan a translation submission strategy, and learn how to revise their own work. Students will also have the chance to get feedback on their pitches and samples, learn about translation rates and publishing contracts, and get the tools to pitch and publish their work.
Note: This class is less focused on translation as a form, and more focused on publishing translations. If you’re interested in learning more about beginning the work of translating literature, please check out our other class with Bruna Dantas Lobato, The Art of Translation.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- Familiarity with the publishing landscape and its inner workings, including foreign rights and publishing contracts
- Constructive, personalized feedback from peers and instructor on a translation project
- A solid portfolio and pitch letter template
- The tools become a published translator!
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students should expect to submit one translation into English from any language in the 5- to 10-page range for prose and 3-7 pages for poetry, or the beginnings of a book-length project, along with a pitch letter for their project. Students should also be prepared to read 20-30 pages each week and give feedback on their classmates' workshop and pitches. Fluency in another language and previous publishing or translation experience are NOT required in this class.
Week 1: Getting Started. In-class discussion on what draws you to a language and a text, choosing an author to translation, and getting started. In-class handout on the stages of publishing.
Week 2: The Rules of the Game. Assigned reading, in-class writing assignment, and in-class discussion on foreign rights, translation strategies, getting started on a pitch, and writing about translation.
Week 3: Translation in Practice I. Workshop #1, including a list of questions you’ve encountered while writing about your portfolio. Further reading on revision and evaluating the quality of a translation.
Week 4: Translation in Practice II. Workshop #2. Further reading on writing about translation and revision.
Week 5: Pitching Your Ideas. Assigned reading, in-class submission strategy exercise, and in-class discussion on revision, successful pitches, and finding the right press or journal for a project.
Week 6: The Fine Print. Assigned reading, in-class discussion on contracts, translation rates, finding a translation community and professional resources, plus general advice.
Bruna Dantas Lobato was born and raised in Natal, Brazil. A graduate of Bennington College, she received her MFA in Fiction from New York University and her MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa. Her stories, essays, and translations from the Portuguese have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Harvard Review, A Public Space, BOMB, Words Without Borders, The Common, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. Her translation of Caio Fernando Abreu's Moldy Strawberries has received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and is forthcoming from Archipelago Books.
"Bruna’s edits are excellent and I am so appreciative of her talent. I've learned the hard way that editing in itself is an art form and much time can be wasted engaging with those who can't edit. She has a gift for recognizing the strengths of a piece, and I feel like a better writer every time I engage with her."
"Bruna is a fantastic writer and editor with a sharp eye for detail and subtext. She has been a great editor of my work, always generous, kind, and attentive to what could best serve my prose."
"As a writer, Bruna Dantas Lobato fits whole worlds into careful, spare sentences. As a translator and reader, she can reverse engineer: finding the heart of a piece through her careful attention to detail and intent. Her work places her among the rare and multi-talented who approach reading and writing with insight, courage, and a healthy sense of fun."
"In Bruna Dantas Lobato’s translation, Caio Fernando Abreu’s MOLDY STRAWBERRIES passes the microphone to the people on the other side of power: the junkies, failed revolutionaries, beggars, and drag queens who, at times like these, have the most to lose. Told by one of Brazil’s greatest gay writers, this book unfurls in long, elegant sentences, evoking the inner lives of people this society—like so many others—too often prefers to forget."