13 Reasons Why Literary Translators Should Blog

Last summer, award-winning translator Katy Derbyshire, the author of “love german books,” shared a manifesto that came out of a translators’ workshop. She called it the “Wolfenbüttel Manifesto – 10 Theses on Blogging for Translators.”

Derbyshire gave 10 reasons why translators should blog about books. These reasons were both focused on benefits they bring to author-translators (so that they become less “invisible”) and on potential benefits for readers and publishers (“translators are experts”). And experts who write well can often be fun to read.

As part of preparing for my talk on Monday, I interviewed a number of cross-lingual literary bloggers. One thing I asked all of them was, Hey, what do you get out of this? Only one of the bloggers received any funding; the others all blogged as a labor of love.

But a labor of love with side-benefits. So, three more reasons why blogging benefits translators (and their readers):

Lisa Hayden Espenschade, who blogs at Lizok’s Bookshelf, wrote that, “The blog is helpful as a writing sample, though, and it’s brought me a huge circle of contacts, some of whom have become friends and/or colleagues. … It’s very difficult to break into literary translation so it’s been very helpful to have the blog: people know my tastes, know I can write, and know I’m familiar with contemporary Russian fiction.”

Will Eells, who blogs about Japanese literature over at Wednesday Afternoon Picnic,  added that, “So at the very least I am learning something about the Japanese literary scene, even on days when I feel like I’m not reaching
out to anyone.”

And back to Katy Derbyshire at love german books: “The most basic, being a translator, is that I get to put my own words down rather than constantly interpreting other people’s. It helps me to develop and focus my own ideas and to follow German-language literature in a structured way.”

Note: I am not a professional literary translator, and these reasons do not apply to me. There are many other reasons to do it, of course.