Amazon’s Author Central a Boon for Translators, Too
Authors write books in one language; when translators write them again in another, they create a new work. Therefore every translator is also a writer and an author. These are the facts on which the PEN America Translation Committee founds its advocacy for literary translators to be identified as the authors of their translations—on the covers of books, in publisher and bookseller listings, in critics’ reviews—and to own the copyright to their work.
Given that Amazon is the world’s largest book retailer on the internet, it is especially important that translators’ names appear in listings for books sold on Amazon.com. If every publisher were to include translators’ names in the metadata for translations, their names would appear automatically. This is not yet the case, and the Translation Committee is looking into how to ensure that it is, but one thing translators can do meanwhile is set up an Author Page for themselves on Amazon’s Author Central. By doing so, all of their books sold on the site can be found in one place, giving them the recognition they deserve and enabling readers, publishers, and critics to find and follow their work.
Last year, after former cochair Margaret Carson made inquiries, Amazon provided instructions on how translators can set up an Author Page, and in this post, Translation Committee member Lara Vergnaud walks you through the process. We urge every translator who reads this to set up a page.
Creating an Author Page on Amazon.com appears both straightforward (more on that in a bit) and a no-brainer. Like all authors whose books are sold on Amazon, translators can now create individual author pages, which link to their translated and original works on Amazon. This author page conveniently consolidates biography, photo, and bibliography.
The initial process is simple: Create an account (or sign in with an existing Amazon account) and enter the professional name associated with books you’ve authored or translated, after which a list of possible book matches will appear. At this point, you have the option to click: “This is my book.”
A word of warning, however. When creating my page, the possible matches that appeared were all books that I had indeed translated. When I double-clicked on the titles, my name appeared, alongside the authors’, on the books’ respective Amazon pages as the “translator.” Good to go, I thought.
But after accepting the appropriate books/translations, I was redirected to another page that listed the works’ authors, asking, “Do you see your name below?” or “Need your name added?” An accompanying message noted that if I was not listed, I should contact Amazon Author Central.
I fell into the latter case. My name was not listed among the books’ authors, a common problem for translators attempting to set up their pages. Clearly, while Amazon can make the distinction between author and translator on their main site, this capability hasn’t migrated over to Author Central.
After a 10-minute phone call with customer service, my page had been updated for me, although it still took a few hours for all the modifications to appear on my end. (Note that there is a user-friendly “contact us” link: Amazon Author Central will call you within a few minutes, or email you within 24 hours.) A customer service representative added my publications to my account after asking, “Is your name on the book cover or anywhere in the book as a translator?” (“Yes!” the translator yelled in frustration.) This should serve as a reminder of how important it is to clarify translator credits with the publisher, ideally during the contract negotiation, or else early in the publication process, and to ensure that the translator is included in the metadata as soon as books appear on Amazon.
The customer service rep noted that, for the time being, translators and other contributors may need to contact Amazon’s help desk for assistance in setting up their accounts. (This is progress: A fellow translator informed me that as recently as December, she was told that Amazon Author Central was not supporting translators as authors during a call with their help desk.)
My takeaway: While Amazon’s Author Pages may not have been built with translators in mind, there is plenty of potential there and a willingness on Amazon’s part to include translators more fully in the future.
Once I had the Author Page set up in my own name, the process was straightforward. You can add your upcoming events, blog posts, Twitter feed, as well as your biography, plus photos and videos. In addition, you can research sales info and read customer reviews of your books in one convenient section.
The biggest payoff to creating an Author Page is, of course, recognition. Not only does it offer translators the chance to be acknowledged for their work (and for publishers to find translators to translate new works), but readers can also easily find translators whose work they’ve come to know and appreciate. They can also sign up to “follow” you for updates about your publications.
Well worth the time and (minor) effort involved in creating the page.