Christian Book Translation: What are the things to Consider?

When it comes to book translation there are many things to consider. When it comes to translating Christian books, there is even more to consider. Christian book translations have the additional concern of translating biblical concepts and often, Bible verses.

When you are considering Christian translation services there are some ways to decide whether a book should be translated. This post will cover some of the steps you can take to choose whether to translate. This allows you to get your newly translated book on the market and available as soon as possible if you make the choice to do so. Read on to understand what needs to be addressed.

Writing a book is a difficult task, but now that the ink has finished drying, you are likely considering how to maximize your number of readers. The natural next step is to translate the book to reach new markets. Consider the following questions, tips, and best practices to start the multilingual journey.

Christian Book Translation: Process

The first question is whether the translation process is worth the extra expense and effort. To be able to address this you must first know yourself and your writing. If you have shown that you can attract readers in the original language, want to reach more readers, and the book content is of relevance in other languages, then it comes down to time and money.

While compared to the effort put into writing, the time and effort for Christian book translations is low, it is still something to consider.

Next, assuming you are ready to enter into foreign markets through translation, you must decide which markets are going to offer the biggest bang for your buck. This is a question for authors who are attempting to sale books, which may not always be the only goal in Christian book translations.

Some Christian authors will have books translated to share with missionaries, not just to increase profits, but the question remains the same. Which markets will be the most beneficial to increase your audience?

The markets you choose need to be those that will find your book relevant and be reachable so they can actually access the book. The price of entering these markets can also vary which has to be considered. If you are translating into multiple languages, choose those that are closely related to make translation easier.

To answer each of these questions, you must do your research or you can end up making costly mistakes. Once this decision is made, it is time to decide how this is to be accomplished.

If you have concluded that it will be worthwhile to translate your book and you know which markets you are ready and willing to enter, you must start looking into actual book translation services. If your book is heavy on Christian terminology and as a basis, then you should specifically consider Christian book translation services.

Ways to Obtain a Professional Book Translation:

There are two basic ways to obtain a professional Christian book translation, through freelancers or translation agencies. Both have positive and negative attributes to consider. A freelancer will likely be more cost efficient, but you must factor in a second opinion to edit and do an overview of the text to make sure the translation was done properly.

A freelancer may also be more available as far as your timing, but if a problem arises there is no customer service person to contact. With a Christian book translations agency, you are working with a whole company that has likely translated numerous forms of material and while they may cost more, a customer service point of contact is likely available.


It may take longer to find a translator with time to complete a whole book translation, but there are probably in-house editors included in the price.

Once you have chosen a translator, translation company, or freelancer, you need to discover what type of translation they will utilize. There are two types of translation that are actually in three separate domains. The first is human translation and then there is computer translation which can be completely computerized or a combination of human and computer assisted technology.

It is always best to look for those who will do 100% human translation because this is more likely to maintain an author’s voice and take into account any cliques, jargon, or cultural references that are used, altering them to fit the new language. Those who use 100% computer translation may not receive a completely accurate translation.

This is in part because a computer translates word for word. The translation must then be edited to make it make sense grammatically. This dual step process will allow for a great deal of meaning to be lost in the new language. As an example, think of a webpage that has been auto translated.

The page may give you a sense of what the original said, but it is often hard to read and some things are unclear. For those who use a combination of computer assistance and human translation, this is better than full computer translation.

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This is a collection of computer translations in a database that auto translates repeated phrases in a text. Tools that do this are referred to as C.A.T. tools, computer assisted translation tools. Before making a final hire for a translator, ask about what type of translation they are using.

Finally, know what you need specifically and what you are expected to provide. Translation, especially of books, is not a simple task. There are things both you and the translator need to know ahead of time. The first is your budget and the time frame.

This will need to be a bit flexible as the number of pages of translation often varies from the original and the amount of time it takes may vary by a few days, so prepare for this contingency. Also, make yourself available to the translator if questions would arise.

If you are unavailable to answer questions, the translation may take longer than necessary. If you really want to prepare your book, talk extensively with the translator ahead of time and before sending the transcript, remove any cliches or cultural references. If this is not possible, consider marking these areas and alert the translator that they may not translate perfectly, but you are open to making the necessary changes to make it work in the new language.

Also know that things like illustrations or photos that are generic in nature may need to be altered to fit the new market. This is all part of translation.

Whether you decide to go with a freelancer or translation agency, shop around. Get several quotes, get a sample of your translated book, and get second opinions on the translation. Read online reviews and ask to speak to references when possible. This is your work, but someone else will be translating into a voice that will hopefully be close to your own, but labeling it as your work.

Doing your homework ahead of time will save headaches in the future. This is not to detour anyone from having a book translated, but to inform readers that it is a process, often a lengthy one that can get costly if the prep work is not completed well. Know what you are doing to get the best translation possible.

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