Translation Editorial Policy

The broad aim of the Comma Translation imprint is to explore both the short story’s family resemblances and its idiosyncrasies across cultures, whilst benefiting from its unique cultural ‘moveability’. As a form grounded in the fleeting, the momentary and the singular, the short story lends itself particularly appositely to translation, being rooted – despite its modern reinventions – in the mobility of the oral tradition. Comma Translation is committed to publishing fresh and innovative international work of the highest quality, and through its translation editorial and professional practice policies aims to ensure this work reaches the English-speaking audience in the best English translations possible.

Translation Editorial policy

1. Across all its work in translation, Comma aims at all times to foster cultural engagement and understanding between writers and readers of different languages, and encourage the dissemination of ideas and experiences between people of diverse cultural backgrounds. It aims to source fiction which celebrates difference and uniqueness above homogenised representations of nations and cultures.

2. We are looking to translate and publish short stories – either singly or whole collections – which have been published in their original language within the last 10 years (apart from in exceptional circumstances, e.g. where the publishing industry in a country is overly censorious or state-sponsored). Have a look at our existing titles Cold Sea Stories, The Iraqi Christ and It Was Just, Yesterday for examples of the kind of translated short fiction we publish.

3. We will only publish new translations which have not previously been published anywhere else in English.

4. Comma Translation will not consider excerpts from longer works, or from works which originally appeared as illustrated texts, or in any other form than as a self-contained short story or short story collection: Comma Translation’s reason for being is to investigate the morphology of the short story as a distinct form across different cultures.

5. We will not publish anything that could be deemed libellous in character, or offensive to any individual or any specific groups or communities. If a translator suggests any work to Comma which contains any of the above, or material that could be regarded as racist or blasphemous, it is very unlikely that Comma will be interested in publishing it. If a translator comes across any such matter in an original piece of work, they must inform Comma immediately. Translators are warned that Comma cannot pay for any amount of work done by a translator, either speculatively or by commission, which contains material that could reasonably be viewed as offensive in the above matter and which is not brought to Comma’s attention immediately. Translators are strongly advised to bear this concern in mind when considering any work for recommendation to the editors.

6. As a principle, Comma Translation will look to prioritise translations from smaller, regional and minority languages.

7. Particularly in its geographically-specific anthology series, Comma is looking for short fiction which has firm roots in the realities and specificities of the places and times it occupies (a strong sense of place, for example).

8. Comma looks to publish work with a resolutely contemporary aesthetic, and implicit to this focus on the very contemporary is a corresponding aim to disseminate perspectives on international cultures that tend not to reflect the ‘classic’ literary view, or the tourist view, of those cultures.
9. Though Comma Translation is not prescriptive with regard to the style of translation it publishes, and appreciates that each individual text dictates the approach taken, there are some features that we would encourage translators to take particular care with; the rendering of slang and dialect words and syntactical constructions, for example. We want the translations we publish to preserve the texture and character of the original texts as far as possible, and would discourage over-domestication and the elision of textual idiosyncrasy which results in an overly smooth, generic or simplified rendering in English.

10. Comma cannot pay for work translated 'on spec' - e.g. sample translations or synopses, but only work which has been officially commisioned and featured in a title published by Comma.

11. Work in translation is also subject to the standard conditions laid out in Comma’s General Editorial Policy:

(i) Comma will not publish anything that could be deemed libellous in character, or offensive to any individual or group of individuals. Any material that could be regarded as racist, blasphemous, offensive to minorities or any specific groups or communities, will not be considered, and Comma reserves the right to not respond to writers or agents representing it in any way.

(ii) Comma only publishes works of 100% fiction. We do not publish fictionalised or semi-fictionalised versions of real events, or fictionalised or semi-fictionalised descriptions or real characters alive or dead. We do not publish fictionalised biographies or works that borrow from, or develop scenes or ideas clearly taken from another author's work, whether out of copyright or not. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in our books are entirely the work of the authors' imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

(iii) Comma reserves the right to refuse to publish a piece of work if it contains copyrighted material (song lyrics, long quotations from other works, etc.) for which permission/re-use rights have to be sought.

(iv) Comma will not consider or publish any story set before the start of the 20th century. Comma is a publisher of contemporary fiction, and fiction that speaks to readers now – that is to say, stories that relate experiences set in the present (or in futures based on the present), or within 'living family history'. We do not publish period drama nor fantasist nostalgia.