Why Should I Consider Translations?

Translations are expensive! Why spend money on them?

If you're in this class and you've read this far, you're seriously considering DIY translations. You know it's going to cost money. There are no thrifty tips to make it cost less. But there are ways to make it cheaper, such as:

  • Choosing a quality translator/editor duo to ensure your book is GOOD
  • Ensuring you are translating to a viable language for your genre/category
  • You have everything in English set up well first

How are those things cheaper? When you have to REDO because of weak upfront work/planning/organizing/decision making, it will cost you tons of money in rework, time and emotional energy.

You will pay the translator/editor fee no matter what. Why pay more on top of that?

Example: You want to go on a beach vacation. You saw photos and the beach is gorgeous. The hotel looks great. You're ready for fun in the sun! You head out. Well, the beach is in Iceland and while it's July, it's not bathing suit weather and the water is freezing—and dangerous.

You can go to a destination, but it's possible it's not the right one if you don't plan well. Now your beach vacation will cost you twice as much money because you have to pay for your trip to Iceland PLUS your trip to Mexico you found after more research that was a better fit. Also, you spent a week in Iceland AND a week in Mexico, but you had to wait for vacation days to accrue to actually go to the vacation your originally wanted.

Translations ARE costly. You have to pay for translators' and editors' efforts before you can publish the book, which means before you can make money on it. You have to pre-pay for the work prior to the possibility of earning any income.

If you've been hesitant to do them because of the cost...

  • Are you waiting because you don't have the money?
  • Are you waiting because you do have the money but don't want to spend it?

If it's because you don't have the money, that is a GREAT reason to hold off. Don't spend money you don't have. Please. But if you have some money to invest back into your business, consider translations before audio or other formats. Why? It's possible the Return on Investment (ROI) will be greater.

This means that you will make more money for the cost to create.

Return on Investment formula (Gah! MATH!)

It looks complicated and scary to do this by hand! Let's plug an example into the formula:

You make $1000 on your latest book. It cost you $200 in expenses to create (cover designer, editor, etc.)


Income subtracting Expenses is $800.


Then divide $800 by your $200 Expenses, which is 4.


Then you multiply 4 by 100 to get the percentage, or 400%

Your ROI or return on investment is 400% of what you put into it.

You spent $200 to make $1000.

That's amazing!

Remember I said it's possible the ROI for translations may be greater than audio? If you've got audio books, do the math. See what your ROI is.

Translations vs. Audio First

One question I see often is: I have extra money for either translations or audio. Which should I do first?

Do the math or ask your friends who have both to do their math to see trends!

Since I have tons of translations and have a solid ROI for them... and a ton of audio, I did the math! I can give a great comparison of why I'm pro-translations first. Translations VS. Audio

As I mentioned earlier in the class, my translations ROI is 370%. For every $200 I spend, I make ~$940.

However, my audio ROI is 800%. For every $200 I spent, I make ~$1800.


Based on this alone, I should be putting all my extra money into audio, or perhaps you now think that means audio should be first.

My answer is NO! No? WHAT? Why the heck would I want to do translations first?

Because there's one more bit of math to consider: Total earned.

I mentioned I've earned over $1.5 million in translations, but I've earned ~$220,000 in audio sales. My audio earnings are only ~15% of what I've earned in translations. While the ROI is lower for translations, the income is ~85% more than audio.

It costs more to do translations but the earnings are greater. Why only bring in ~$220,000 when I can bring in >$1.5 million?

Note- Do audio! Yes, do it. It makes you money and if you have an ROI like mine, congrats! But based on my personal experience, translations has a bigger income potential and if I had to choose one or the other, I'd choose translations.

BUT WAIT... yes, there's more! Audio is audio. That's it. Once you have a translation however, you can make an ebook, paperback, hardback, audio and more. There are a larger variety of income opportunities with translations than audio. You can grow your backlist exponentially more with translations.

Don't worry!

We'll return to Return On Investment later in the class in Step #8, but it's important to consider now as a WHY to do translations even if it has up-front costs (and to keep it in mind before other costly growth alternatives).

How to double, triple and even quadruple your income!

This is easy math!!

If you took the Brick-By-Brick class, you're familiar with my box method and being a backlist writer. Your backlist is your books you've already written. Or, everything but your new release.

The best part of earning income with your backlist is it's passive income.

Definition: Passive income is income that requires no effort to earn and maintain.

THIS is the ultimate income of a self published author. It's not the hefty push of sales as a new release. As we all know, that tapers off fast. It's the lingering, long term, slow and steady income of the stockpile of backlist titles. The bigger the backlist, the bigger the passive income.

What's a great way to grow your backlist and passive income exponentially?


I have over 80 English books published. Let's turn those 80 books into a bunch of boxes, like below:

That's a lot of books and a lot of opportunity to make money! Now let's add all of my translations, each color representing a different language. Remember, while I may have duplicated a book to a different language, it's a new book to a new country and a new readership. Now see how many books I have! That's a lot more opportunities to make money!

But the above graphic only showed ONE RETAILER! I publish Wide, so I get to publish my books on multiple retailers. The graphic below shows my books on several different retailers. Each shape is a retailer. Don't forget paperback options and audio too!

You can double, triple, quadruple or more your income potential by using books you've already written!

If you've got a mental block on spending money on translations, this math may help you reconsider.

Do you do audio without breaking a sweat but are apprehensive about translations? It's the same concept: pay upfront and earn back the expense... and more. Have you done the ROI on your audio or other efforts? See what it is. You may discover where to focus your money and efforts based on FACTS, or the math.

Ask your fellow author friends. Sure, they may not want to say exactly how much money they make on translations (or anything else), but they may be more than willing to share their ROI. And that's MORE telling than what they made.

Not convinced? 

Let’s say you write and publish 5 books this year in English. Congrats! Now let’s say you translate those 5 books to German and publish them. How many books are you publishing this year?


But, you only had to WRITE the books once. So write once, publish twice. So you spent tons of time writing 5 books, but you’re publishing 10 times.

Yes, translation effort takes time, but all you’re doing is project management/admin work. You aren’t writing. You can write more books while the translation process is happening.

Now let’s say you also translate those 5 books to French this year. Now you are publishing 15 books.


Write 5 books, publish each 3 times.

Let’s add Spanish- 20 books this year. Then Italian- 25 books this year.

If you translate/publish to English, German, French, Spanish and Italian instead of only English, you are publishing 25 books instead of 5.

Remember I said each language’s readers are DIFFERENT readership? They don’t overlap, therefore you’re hitting different readers. While the content is identical, the readership is different. So you really are publishing 25 different books.

Imagine the income possibility of publishing 25 books this year instead of 5. HUGE!

For those using the box method, this grows your box count from 5 to 25 (and that’s just one retailer). If you have 5 retailers per book per language, then that’s 25 retailer options x 5 books, or 125 boxes!!!

Why are translations different than audio or other 'pay-to-create' book formats?

With audio, you pay a narrator to record an alternate format of your book. Readers pay to listen to it, which is great as audio buyers are different than ebook ones. If you don't have an audiobook, not all of your potential readers are reached.

But with audio, all you receive for the money paid to the narrator is literally that: AUDIO

There is no chance to repurpose it or use it more than once.

You pay once, you use it once.

For translations, you pay once and you can repurpose it many times. THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE!

Once you pay your translator and editor for their work, you can convert your translated book into paperback, audio, hardback and anything else that is available for your English titles. It's not a one-and done situation. You have the translated words to play with and grow your boxes (if you're doing my Box Method), your backlist and your income! The chance for your ROI to grow is substantial.

Complete and Continue