Translating a novel for an unknown (and not so serious) publisher: my doubts

as a few of my LingQ tutors and friends know, I attended a course about literary translation last Saturday. The course was organized by the publisher Faligi from Aosta (NW Italy, close to France and Switzerland). It only last three hours and, having studied five years to become a translator, I feared I couldn’t learn much more. However, this “course” was required to apply to become a translator for this publisher.
As soon as the woman from the publisher started talking, I became more and more doubtful about my will to work for them:

  1. the name of the publisher is faligi, which is an Esperanto verb meaning “to tear down (the linguistical barriers)”. The “g” must be pronounced like in “get”. However, both members who spoke to us, said “falig^i” (g like in gym), which also exists but means “to fall down” (like: I fall down, intransitive). I supposed one should know how to pronounce the name of the publisher one works for;
  2. we were told that, if we pass the test, we can sign a contract to translate two books. However, we would only receive 20% of the price of each book they sell and they would pay us in the month of April of the following year. I know quite a lot of publishers because I love going to bookshops or to browse the websites of internet bookshops. I had never heard the name of Faligi. So, I wonder: suppose they can sell 1000 copies of the novel(s) I translate, I would get 200 euro a year. Suppose, to be very optimistic, they sell 10,000, I would still earn 2000 euro a year. Too little. And I doubt I would have much time left for another, better paid, job;
  3. today, I have opened the CD-ROM containing the files with the tests in every language. Left aside all the several typos, including some that correspond to huge grammar mistakes in Italian, I was astonished and disgusted when I opened the directory named “Slavic language and literatures”, while all the other ones had the name of the language, e.g. English, French, Japanese, Swedish. And what did I find in this weirdly named directory? A subdirectory named… ROMANIAN!!!
    I am speachless. They asked us to be as correct as possible in our translation tests, but they are the first who write documents full of typos. Ok. But including Romanian in a Slavic directory is such a nonsense that it makes me think this publisher is not serious at all. Now, I don’t even feel like trying the test(s).
    What are your opinions on this issue? Should I apply for this job anyway, even if it’s not a serious publisher, even if it’s practically done for free, even if they know nothing about languages and translations (I would have challenged the speaker on several occasions)?
    I’d like to hear your opinion, especially if you have some experience in this field.

Hello Michele,
the facts you’ve mentioned are really uncanny. If I were you I would keep away from that publisher.

Ciao Michele

done some translation work as well (in addition to interpreting). My advice, as you might have guessed: keep clear. Save your time & nerves for better and more rewarding purposes.

Best wishes from Germany


Multumesc, Deucalion!
Danke, Kaderlid!
More feedback from other members would be welcome.

You seem to know that the company is more than a little suspect. Would their name look good on your c.v.? More importantly, would you be proud of being linked to them? Could you learn anything from working for them?

Susanne, I don’t think it would look bad, but I’m quite sure no employer, when reading this name on my cv, would think “wow, he has worked for Faligi!” as he would think if he read I’ve worked with Mondadori, Einaudi or other important publishers.
I mean, I have heard of many, many publishers, even if I don’t buy their books, but I had really never heard of Faligi in 27 years.
I don’t think I could learn anything from them. I could rather teach something to them, but I wouldn’t do it…