Getting specific about a platform cooperative for translators

The specifics of a platform co-op for translators are starting to come together in my head.

First, it should focus on large projects, and in particular, books. This is where there is money to be made—potentially—and this is also where translators’ professionalism can shine (as opposed to, say, birth certificates). There are extensive possibilities with works in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license. There are also authors awaiting translation into English (or from English into other languages). We would not be exclusive to a particular genre or topic.

This does not mean we wouldn’t be interested in other types of projects. Subtitling, magazines, blogs, scientific papers, legal documents, and all manner of work interests us.

Second, I plan to push hard for books produced by our co-op to have some form of open license, to the extent the original creators allow. The more open, the better. There’s a lot to be gained from contributing to the digital commons, not least of which is publicity, given how rare this is today.

Third, the co-op should by owned and operated by translators, but it should not publicize itself as a translators’ co-op. Rather, it should publicize itself as a publishing co-op. We don’t produce translations, we produce books (or other material) not available anywhere else. Cover designers, proofreaders, and administrators will be welcome as members.

If we start by selling ebooks, there will be no need for start-up capital at all. All necessary software is available at no cost, regardless of OS. I anticipate selling on Gumroad and Amazon, and possibly Fairmondo UK. Long-term, we could arrange with publishers of actual, physical books to print and sell our more successful titles. This would allow us to build on our success, and give them some confidence about future sales.

Pay to co-op members would be directly commensurate to sales of the books each member worked on, but patronage would be proportionate to work done (including admin and volunteer work). I have a fairly elaborate formula prepared to calculate it.

The best part of this model is that it can begin as an experiment. It can launch immediately, and people can join as they see fit . We can work out the details as we go.