A friend of mine has published a short story in Hebrew, and I'm currently translating it into English, for submission to short fiction magazines.

If accepted, will the editing process be any different than normal? Will the publication feel "constrained" to match up perfectly with the original, or are they likely to request changes as with any new story?

  • I do not understand this question. Why do you think they treat this submission differently from the others they get? Do you think they want the original version and translate it themselves? Would they waste their time for that? Do they understand Hebrew? Are they capable matching it to the original? If the story is good, why should they care if it is close to the original one? And if the story isn't good, they for sure do not care. Dec 29, 2013 at 15:36
  • @JohnSmithers: I think they assume the translation I submit is a faithful one, and that if changes are made to that (beyond line editing) some readers will read both versions, and note discrepancies. I would be shocked if an editor suggested edits when buying a reprint. But I don't know what to expect for a translation.
    – Standback
    Dec 29, 2013 at 17:11
  • Honestly, I wouldn't be shocked at all. And readers will find discrepancies no matter what, because every translation is like every other work of fiction: it will not suit all people. Dec 29, 2013 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


I have no experience in this field, but I cannot imagine that the editing process would be different.

If I understand this correctly, then your main concern is that the edited version of the translation could diverge too much from the original work. That's not nice, that's true, and people reading both version will recognize that, maybe even getting upset about it, but from the publisher perspective I have to ask: so what?

Many English books are translated to German and I know many discussions how the translation differs and that it would be better to read the original version (Lord of the Rings, Song of Ice and Fire to name just two examples). Probably you know these discussions with Hebrew translations, too.

My point is: No matter how much the publisher tries to keep the translation true to the original work, people will complain. That's life, you cannot suit them all, and the publisher knows that.

So if the publisher has the choice to make a story better (i.e. selling better in the opinion of the publisher) by sacrificing the accuracy of the translation, why shouldn't the publisher do it?

The one who (might) cares about it, is your friend. And depending how much he cares about it, he must control these edits. Which means: there must be something in the contract giving him this power.

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