ALTA Statement on Translators’ Names on the Cover

As a response to the ongoing conversation around translators’ names appearing on book covers, ALTA urges all publishers to provide front cover credits for translators and encourages members to sign onto the #TranslatorsOnTheCover letter from the UK’s Society of Authors.

Translators work to capture the tone, voice, rhythm, sounds, cadence, images, dramatic structure, themes, rhetoric, and the historical and cultural context of a work of literature in order to introduce it to new readers in a different language. They have extensive knowledge of the two or more cultures and languages involved and apply it to create a new work of art in its own right. As such, in our view, they should be acknowledged for their literary contributions and artistry by receiving proper front cover credit as a matter of course. This practice of foregrounding a book as a work of translation also offers more visibility for translators and more transparency for the reader.

Visibility for translators is only the first step toward achieving more equitable work conditions in our field. All translators should also receive proper payment, royalties, and a share of subsidiary rights, and be able to retain the copyright to their own translations. Translators of color, heritage speakers, and others of diverse backgrounds also need to be considered and contracted more often, especially as they bring unique perspectives to a manuscript but continue to be underrepresented.

Here is a list of resources for translators:

ALTA is committed to fair and sustainable working conditions for translators, and to equity and diversity in our field. We urge publishers to recognize translators’ labor and vital literary contributions and applaud those that already do.

Signed,

ALTA’s Board of Directors and Staff

Ellen Elias-Bursac, Anne Fisher, Patrick Blaine, Samantha Schnee, Aron Aji, Sean Gasper Bye, Nancy Naomi Carlson, Bonnie Chau, Bruna Dantas Lobato, Chenxin Jiang, Aviya Kushner, Colleen Lucey, Margo Pave, Aaron Robertson, Corine Tachtiris, Elisabeth Jaquette, Kelsi Vanada, Rachael Daum, Jessica Sue Vocatura, Sally McCallum

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