So, some of you might have noticed that we have multiple translations. To do them, we’ve used two different services and done translations ourselves direct. Babelcube was who we started with.

What is Babelcube

Babelcube offers a 3rd party website where they allow authors / right holders to put up books for translation. Translators then bid and send in sample work to the authors, if everything works out well and the translations are completed and approved; the translation is then published by Babelcube themselves.

They then collect the money and distribute it. They have an interesting royalty share setup, where the translators get paid for the initial amounts at a higher % (I think it’s like 50% to start) and reducing as sales accumulate. Which is great for translators and I’m all in support of that, in theory.

The Problems

Let’s talk about the small issues first. The lack of customer support and replies.

Poor Customer Support

We have to constantly chase them for help on things. We have a book where the translator, after the initial 15% stopped doing proper translations for the rest of the book. We followed up with the translator and Babelcube, no reply from the translator. Gave it a few months of check-ins, nothing.

Asked Babelcube to remove the book and put it back into circulation for finding new translators.

No reply. We had to hunt them down after a year to get this sorted after numerous e-mails.

Financial Malfeasance (Maybe?)

The bigger issue we have with Babelcube is with regard to money. We’ve had multiple questions with them, never getting an answer. The first time, we had an e-mail going to them on May 20, 2021. Specifically, we were wondering why we were being paid a lot less than we should have been. Our first enquiry had been with the German Hidden Wishes book 1 that we had translated with them and was the first one that sold well.

For example, on Oct 2020; Amazon we sold 305 units in Amazon DE, there was a gross revenue of $510.39. Amazon US was 1 unit sold at $1.69.

Our book is priced at $3.99. So our total should be around $2.70 (minus delivery fees) before Babelcube and other people’s cuts. Wait, you say, isn’t that amount after they deduct it?
Nope, that’s our gross amount which they’ll pay us 30% on. 2 months later.

Never got a reply on that one.

Then, the problems continued.

Book 1 German Wishes continued to sell, relatively well. Total sales over 4 reporting periods (months) equaled 442 units. Not bad, though we were still getting paid at $1.69.

We decided to get book 2 and 3 translated by the translator outside of Babelcube, paying them direct.

When we released book 2, we found our total revenue was much, much better. Obviously, because we were making the full 70% on a full price at $3.99 US and Euros. Which it should have been priced at initially.

Total unit sales for book 2 after 4 months though was 335 units. So we’re looking at a 75% readthrough, which is weird, considering our readthrough of the English works were lower. Still, different language, different market, and though the books weren’t connected, maybe we were just that good.

We followed up asking for the raw files to see what happened and to dispute the royalty amounts.

Again, we had no answer.

Returns for Withdrawn Book

December 2021, we decide to take the Hidden Wishes book 1 out of Babelcube and sell it ourselves. There’s a mechanism where we pay the translator direct for this amount, which is what we did. No problem, we pulled the book out.

December 2023, we get a royalty report indicating we have a return for Hidden Wishes book 1. They DEDUCT royalties for the return. For a book withdrawn over 2 years ago.

We e-mail them, trying to follow up and find out what is going on.

The only reply we have ‘the matter has been escalated’.

Nothing else.

At this point, I cannot suggest anyone go through Babelcube. There’s obviously a major lack of support or care. Even if they priced the Hidden Wishes book much lower than they should have, they should have fixed that. And answered about why it was so much lower. We never got a reply or explanation.

Now, we’re getting returns and being charged for them for a book that they should not even be selling (and certainly haven’t been paying us for!).

And again, the same level of no reply.

I’d love an explanation, but I doubt I’ll get it. As and when our contracts expire for the translations, we’re going to pull them out of Babelcube. It’s obvious they are unreliable at best and incompetent certainly.

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