Why my book can be read for free

As part of the relaunch of my personal site, I've decided to release the 192 page, 48,000 word Translation sales handbook for free on this site. It includes online and offline marketing strategies for translators brought together from other industries and my own ideas, including on pricing and work/life balance, all summarised in a roadmap that readers can pick relevant parts from. It was well received and sold a few copies since its release in late 2012, particularly when it was mentioned by myself or others, but all products have a lifecycle and keeping the book behind a paywall was not helping to extend it. The idea to open the book for public reading came quite a while ago but I hesitated for various reasons. The decision has been made now though, so I'll just list out the thinking behind it with a simple 'pros' and 'cons' list:

Pros

- Increased exposure of the book's ideas. New conversations and debate might arise. Hopefully having a positive impact on the professionalism and reputation of our industry.

- It'll never be out of print, for as long as the site stands

- It can be improved through feedback, hopefully shared in exchange for the open reading policy. I am always open to improvements, so comments on the relevant pages are fully welcome. Discussion, disagreement and debate is encouraged. I have done my best to self-edit the book, but I'm aware of its existing weaknesses and hope to keep on honing it as time goes on.

- People are still free to buy a more conveniently presented version. See below.

- Clearing up any personal misunderstandings and doubts - in a recent exchange on a translator group it transpired that some colleagues had assumed I was a 'coach' and 'outsourcer'. It all seemed to stem from associations with other industry personalities who do outsource for peanuts and profess ability to coach others.

Well, yes, I do outsource work through a small agency I manage (which is in good standing), but that only forms a minority of my income as part of a project that started many years ago and for which I just maintained the existing clients. I'm not a buy-low sell-high word-factory outsourcer, by any stretch of the imagination. The book and any related income have very little impact on my balance sheets, so I could hardly be called a coach. It really is a one off project with a little promotion around it. It is through freelancing that I earn the majority of my living and to the freelance community I try to contribute. So hopefully opening the book will help to restore some balance there.

Cons

- Upsetting existing readers who paid for their copies. Given that the vast majority of readers have had their copies for over 12 months now, long enough to take action on the content, they will hopefully also notice that they have much more value than the free readers will ever get: a complete package for their preferred reading device, including the rate calculator as well as access to future updates. Copies are still available for sale; see below. Anyone that is concerned by this move, please get in touch. I will do my best to remedy the situation.

- No more buyers. There is a chance this could happen. All sales of the PDF/Kindle/print versions could now be finished, offering little in the way of support for future editions. However, I have a hunch that people who are interested in the content will still want a hardcopy, or a copy to read on their tablet or 'eReader', and will be happy to pay a little for that convenience. I can't see people going through the site printing out every page when they can pay a one-off fee, for the cost of a cheap sit-down lunch, to have access to all digital versions and all future updates, or a simple print version. Both of which can be written off as a business expense.

Other thoughts

I had put a fair bit of effort into the typography and layout of the book in print and PDF. While the content is the focus with the online version, I have tried to maintain these features where possible online. More tweaks to come, I'm sure.

In an ideal world I would license the text under a Creative Commons license, but I'm not quite ready to do that yet as I'm not sure I'm up on all of the implications, nor am I fully sold on the benefits in this case. (EDIT: This is now done! As of October 2016.) The major benefit would be for open educational use in schools and universities, removing the fear of copyright infringement that might stop some from working with the text. Otherwise it might help others to create a derivative work (with attribution) that expands on the ideas. The latter is less obvious in its appeal, though. I mean, is it really likely that anyone would do so, and how much would the community really benefit? (EDIT: A lot, if it was released in translation, with credit given, as per the license). The jury's still out on that one, but there is potential for a move in that direction once I've put more thought into the implications.

So those are my thoughts on the whole plan. I'd be keen to hear what you think if any of this is of interest to you. Otherwise, please enjoy reading the book any way you choose, in whole or in part!

Published by using 920 words.

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