Translator-Publisher Speed Dating at ALTA

I have lots of jokes to make about my one experience with actual “speed dating,” like about the female minister who was there because she wanted to “sleep outside of her tribe” and the car salesman who was there for his fifth consecutive time . . .

It was all sorts of amusing, but, to be honest, all I wanted to do was date a translator. (They’re all so short and verbal!) And I’m sure that all you translators out there dream of dating a publisher. (They’re all so short and angry!)

Well, in that case, you need to come to this year’s American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) conference in Milwaukee (October 12-16) and sign up for the Editor-Translator Speed Dating sessions.

And to be honest, this program will be a million times more interesting than typical speed dating. (Although I promise a creepy pick-up line for every translator who has a session with me. At least one. I have a storage chest of them as big as Ulysses.)

The way this works is that interested translators fill out this form (before October 28th!) with the following information:

  • Your name, email address, and a 50 word (max) translator biography
  • Your preference for editor area-of-expertise (poetry, prose, or non-fiction)
  • Up to 2 pages of translated material to discuss with the editor (suggested 2 double-spaced pages of prose or 1 single-spaced page of poetry; see formatting guidelines below)
  • Up to 2 specific questions for the editor about the material (ex. “Is this pacing effective?” or “What do you think of this phrasing?”). General inquiries (“How can I get published?”) will not be permitted.

Then, at the conference, you’ll be paired with an appropriate editor who will have read your submission and will be able to give you some publisher-centric feedback. (And come on lines.)

For anyone just starting out—or even for the wizened, experienced translator who is working on a new project—this sounds like the best possible way to interact with a publisher. It’s so much better than trapping someone in a hallway and shoving papers into their hands, or pretending that they’re really absorbing the complex details of your project while drinking their ninth glass of wine . . .

Also, IT’S FREE. (Well, mostly. ALTA’s asking for a $10 donation, but really, that’s nothing. I paid $50 to speed date and came away with no advice about my writing. None!)

I know from talking with Erica Mena that they still have a number of openings for translators, so, sign up now!

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