To Translate or Not To Translate

With the latest Spain and Italy Amazon additions, more and more people seem to be looking into translating their works.  I've really been weighing the pros and cons about this in my mind.  I haven't come to any definite conclusions but I thought I would share my thoughts thus far.

On the one hand.... much of a short story author's success is based on their ability to reach their niche audience.  I do believe that this initially requires casting a wide net.  Make your work as available as possible and then earn those one or two fans that will buy all of your work.  So in this sense, translating makes sense.  The "foreign language" markets are much smaller.  So there is the potential to become a big fish in a small pond.  Plus, some countries are far more open to short stories than Americans.  Hispanic cultures, for example, have a very rich background in short stories.

On the other hand... considering how much one makes on a single short story, it would take a loooooooong time to even begin to recoup the cost of paying for a professional translation.  Plus, there's just a smaller online shopping market compared to the USA.  Let's face it: Americans love to shop.  I sell a handful of stories every month in Amazon UK.  But it's nothing compared to US.  I think it's reasonable to assume that the "other" Amazons would eventually come to be like the UK in terms of number of units sold.

If I wrote novels, it would make perfect sense to get my work translated.  But given the more limited appeal of short stories, it just doesn't make sense to me to translate right now.  It would be hundreds of dollars that I may never see back.  If I ever become a more established writer with a larger audience, I might be open to reconsidering.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?


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