Coronavirus Resources: The Netherlands’ Letterenfonds’ Translation Support

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The Dutch Foundation for Literature is offering translators a fixed fee for sample translations and additional support to publishers for translation production costs.

The central train station in the city of Breda on March 17. Image – iStockphoto: Hung Chung Chih

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Supporting Dutch Literature in the World Market
In response to the need to keep translation work moving as well as possible during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Dutch Foundation for Literature—Nederlands Letterenfonds—announced on Tuesday (May 12) that it’s opening three features of support for translation activity that takes Dutch literature into other languages.

To get started, see the foundation’s translation grants information here.

One of the things we like best about the Letterenfonds approach is that it recognizes the value of translators in getting work published in translation. As Publishing Perspectives readers know, translators are ambassadors for much of the best translation work we all read. They find the work, make samples, and can spend years shopping a project around to publishers, running without pay on sheer dedication to a work’s value.

The newly announced opportunities this week also include support for foreign publishers and for programs that can support promotion.

Support for Translators on Sample Translations

In her media messaging this week, the foundation’s Agnes Vogt writes, “We are allowing translators of Dutch literature into any language to produce sample translations of recent titles of their choice. The translators will receive a fixed fee for these translations.

“We are also inviting the translators to make an effort to find a suitable publisher for each book in question. The samples will be available in mid-September. We will of course keep you informed.

“We hope,” Vogt says, “that these initiatives will stimulate the continued publication of Dutch literature in translation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if anything is unclear or if you’d like our advice on any of these matters.”

Additional Support for Production Costs

In Amsterdam, some residents have told journalists this spring that they’re enjoying the dearth of tourists in the pandemic, despite the economic cost of the absence of visitors. Image – iStockphoto: Livinus

Until December 31, Vogt says, applications are open for publishers to request additional financial aid—beyond the foundation’s usual subsidies—in producing work translated from Dutch.

The production subsidies granted will be between €750 and €1,500 per book (US831 and US$1,626).

For the publication of genres for which production support is already given (poetry, graphic novels, illustrated children’s books), the current subsidy amount will be raised by a fixed amount of € 1,000 (US$1,084).

Support for Adapted Promotional Efforts

With physical promotion for authors (and translators) impossible for promotional purposes–and such venues as festivals, book fairs, and bookstores off-limits—the foundation is also providing a temporary budget to support existing ways of promoting new books.

“This might be through online interviews, special video clips, ads, flyers, and so on,” Vogt says. “If you’re launching a new Dutch book in translation and can compensate the physical absence of the author with another initiative, please do not hesitate to contact us.”

Translators should also see the information on the foundation’s subsidy page about its list of approved translators. If you can translate from Dutch into other languages, it could be helpful to be on this list when the foundation sends it to inquiring publishers.

Keep in mind several particulars that prevail in these offers of help:

  • The original, Dutch-language work by the Dutch author or illustrator must have been published by a recognized Dutch or Flemish publishing house
  • The translation must be published by a foreign publishing house that can ensure good distribution and promotion of the book in its own country
  • A contractual agreement must exist between the Dutch rights holder and the foreign publisher granting translation rights to the foreign publisher, unless the work is in the public domain
  • A contractual agreement must exist between the foreign publisher and the translator of the work
  • The work must be published within two years from the date of the letter of confirmation letter

More, as we’ve said, is on this page.

At this writing, the 11:32 a.m. ET update (1532 GMT) of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports 43,410 cases of the coronavirus in The Netherlands, with 5,581 deaths in a population of 17.2 million.

And Publishing Perspectives, which is a committed internationalist news medium covering trade book publishing, is interested in hearing from other programs working to support translation during the challenges of the pandemic.

An April 12 shot of Rotterdam’s Museumpark, closed as a mitigation measure during the pandemic. Image – iStockphoto: Frans Willemblok


More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here, more from us on the Netherlands’ market is here, and more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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