Yes, the last week of May was momentous!
I signed a contract for my translation to be published! And two days later Bangor 1876 FC won a nail-biting play-off that sees them promoted!
My translation is of Sian Northey’s novella Yn y Tŷ Hwn, which is called This House in English. They have had a parallel journey in some respects, Bangor 1876 and This House. The seeds of both projects were planted in 2019.
In 2019, I learned I was to receive mentoring as an emerging literary translator. A new venture, although I already had experience as a translator.
Also in 2019 the supporters trust that brought Bangor 1876 into life was formed. It was new venture in football for the city, although Bangor already has a proud footballing history.
Diligence and perseverance over the last three years have paid off, for both.
In January, when I last posted on this blog, I was waiting for a decision from Publisher N, who were considering my (*counts on fingers*) fourteenth submission of This House.
Then, in February, Publisher N said it wanted to publish – Yes! I guess that’s what scoring a goal must feel like. Now that contracts have been signed, I can reveal that the publisher will be 3TimesRebel Press. It is a new, small, independent publisher, based in Scotland. It is very niche. As its website says:
Only women. Only minority languages. This is our choice.
It has already published in English two novels from Catalan, and one each from Basque and Galician. This House will be its first title originally in Welsh.
Making the submission to 3TimesRebel Press
Back in July 2020, my mentor told me that I needed to identify other works of art (especially other novels) that Yn y Tŷ Hwn is like. The mentor said this is what is expected when pitching to publishers or agents. I also read the same instruction time and again during my self-directed online research about how to make pitches and submissions.
The jargon for these ‘it’s like’ works is ‘comps’, as in ‘comparable to’. The closest I got for overall tone was James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.
As I wrote in my January 2021 post, it’s the ‘vibe’ of works referred to as comps that’s important rather than the subject matter. I reckon that if you were to swap the alcohol in Giovanni’s Room for the tea in This House, they’d be similar enough.
As it turned out, I didn’t need a ‘comp’ to snag 3TimesRebel Press. The closest I got in my initial email was to say:
The story is an examination of roads not taken and shifting self-perception, expressed in concise and unfussy language which is reminiscent of the work of Anne Enright.
I then listed the Sian Northey‘s publications, and my published translations, and stated the sales figure for Yn y Tŷ Hwn. The director of 3TimesRebel Press replied promptly and enthusiastically, requesting an excerpt.
Two days after that, I was emailed to say that she was ‘completely hooked’ and wanted to read the rest of the story. One Zoom meeting with Sian and me later, and we were on the road to publication.
Finalising the contract
My contract with 3TimesRebel Press is called a ‘Memorandum of Agreement’ (I don’t know why, but that’s what was offered). A couple of things helped me feel comfortable and confident about finalising and signing.
Harmonising with the terms of the copyright holder’s contract
The copyright holder of the original text of Yn y Tŷ Hwn is the publishing house Y Lolfa. Its agreement with 3TimesRebel Press is called a ‘Publication Agreement’ and this was agreed and signed ahead of the Memorandum of Agreement between me and 3TimesRebel Press.
Y Lolfa’s managing director kindly let me see its agreement with 3TimesRebel Press, which meant I could harmonise the two contracts’ terms where their provisions overlap. For example:
- changing the proposed publication area from ‘throughout the World’ to ‘in the UK and the Republic of Ireland’
- making the annual date on which the publisher will reports sales and the term in which to pay any amounts due the same as they are in the contract with Y Lolfa.
Hopefully this will make all our lives simpler!
Society of Authors contract vetting service
As a member of the Society of Authors I was able to make use of its contract vetting service. I received thorough and prompt comments, both on the initial draft contract and the finalised version.
The SoA suggested an interesting additional clause: its new standard wording for prohibiting the publisher from using the work for training artificial intelligence technologies to generate text.
I’m not sure how this would be policed, but even including the clause might give a publisher pause.
What next for this blog?
I started this blog to chronicle my progress of being mentored as an early career literary translator, and then record my attempts at finding a publisher. So now we have a fairy-tale journey’s end, in a way. I used an unopened bottle of champagne to illustrate my first post; I now think we may safely uncork it.
I’m going to continue to post on this blog as we move through the stages of producing, marketing and selling This House. For me, this is yet again new territory so I have lots to learn. I hope that my experiences will give food for thought to other newbie literary translators.
What next for Bangor 1876?
Oh, and what next for Bangor 1876? I hear you say. Well, they’ve been confirmed to play in the second tier of the Welsh football league system next season and have negotiated their way to being able to play at their new level at Nantporth, the old ground of the defunct Bangor City FC.
Words and image of book cover ©Susan Walton 2023. Image of Yes ©estate of K. Nathan, reproduced with the permission of A. Nathan and I. Nathan. Photo of sprouting seeds by Jen Theodore; mechanised brain by Possessed Photography; and champagne by Shayna Douglas, all on Unsplash. Photo of handshake by Fauxels on Pexels.