PEN Translates will fund up to 75% of translation costs for selected projects. When a publisher’s annual turnover is less than £500,000 we will consider supporting up to 100% of translation costs.
PEN Translates is open to works from all languages, and it is not essential for publishers to have acquired the rights at the time of application. The submitted project may be a work of fiction (including children’s literature), non-fiction, poetry, prose or plays (for print edition), but not a magazine. The grant is open to UK-based publishers only. For further information on eligibility, please consult the guidance for applicants.
The criteria for assessment are:
Literary quality (40% weighting)
Strength of the publishing project (30% weighting)
Contribution to UK bibliodiversity (30% weighting).
PEN Translates will support a project when the translation is in progress, but not if it is in the final stages of production. For translations underway, the publication date must be at least 3 months after the announcement of the award. Awards are announced approximately four to five months after the application deadline.
The application process
There are two submission periods each year, the first in April–May (with awards decided in November) and the second in October–November (with awards decided the following May).
PEN Translates is currently closed for submissions. It will reopen 1 April – 31 May 2020.
The selection panel (a specially selected group of industry professionals including writers, translators and booksellers) will assess your application based on the submitted form and the supporting documents provided. If you have any further queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What's the process?
PEN Translates helps UK publishers meet the costs of translating new works of world literature into English, while ensuring that translators are acknowledged and paid properly for their work.
PEN Translates awards two rounds of grants a year. The spring submission window is open April–May, with awards announced in the November, and the autumn submission window is open October–November, with awards announced the following May.
All submissions are assessed by an independent expert in both the source language and literary landscape of the country of origin, and final awards are determined by an independent panel of literary professionals.
UK-based publishers can submit applications for book translation projects during the submission windows. Submissions must include an application form detailing how the project meets the PEN Translates assessment criteria, the original-language manuscript, a sample translation, the translator’s CV, confirmation of rights, and a budget. It is not essential for publishers to have acquired rights at the point of application as long as they have permission from the original publisher.
English PEN assigns each submission to an independent expert assessor from a pool of literary translators and language specialists. The assessors evaluate each submission against the assessment criteria:
- Literary quality (40% weighting)
PEN Translates supports literature of outstanding literary merit. This will be judged on the quality of the original text, the sample translation, and evidence included in the application.
- Strength of the publishing project (30% weighting)
PEN Translates supports projects that are accompanied by a strong business plan which identifies the target audience for the book, shows how this audience will be reached through a marketing and publicity campaign, and gives a realistic estimate of all costs.
- Contribution to UK bibliodiversity (30% weighting)
PEN Translates supports the translation of quality books that will contribute to, or enhance, bibliodiversity in the UK. The programme is committed to championing harder-to-access languages and cultures by supporting the translation of books that might not otherwise be published in English. You can read our ‘What do we mean by bibliodiversity?’ FAQ here.
The independent assessors’ evaluations and the publishers’ submissions are passed to the PEN Translates Selection Panel – a rotating group of seven independent individuals, drawn from across the literary sector.
This group of writers, translators, scouts, agents, publishers, publicists, booksellers, media representatives and cultural managers review the assessors’ evaluations and publishers’ submissions, and decide on the final list of awards. These decisions are made against the assessment criteria.
PEN Translates awards are announced on the English PEN website shortly after the Selection Panel finalise the grants. This announcement is made around six months after the applications have been submitted.
If you have any questions on this process, please email email@example.com
What do we mean by ‘bibliodiversity’?
Alongside literary quality and strength of the publishing project, submissions to PEN Translates – our grant for literary translations – are assessed on their contribution to UK bibliodiversity.
Bibliodiversity references the variety and diversity of literature available in a region or country. The books supported by PEN Translates contribute to or enhance the UK’s bibliodiversity in a number of ways. Books might:
- Be translated from a language underrepresented in UK publishing
- Emerge from a country or culture underrepresented in UK publishing
- Be of a form or genre underrepresented in UK publishing
- Offer new or previously elided perspectives on existing or already-represented themes, contexts or cultures
- Come from and represent less-heard voices – from both authors and translators whose perspectives and identities are less-represented in UK publishing
- Address themes that are underrepresented in UK publishing.
There are, of course, further ways in which books might enhance or contribute to bibliodiversity. Often, many of these will intersect.
Publishers should also note that ‘literary quality’ is the highest-weighted criterion for assessment (40%), and that ‘strength of the publishing project’ and ‘contribution to UK bibliodiversity’ are equally weighted (30%).
Books that receive grants will not only contribute to the UK literary landscape’s diversity, but also be outstanding pieces of literature with excellent project and marketing proposals.
Publishers are encouraged to consider different ways in which their projects might contribute to bibliodiversity when submitting an application to PEN Translates. If you would like to discuss or clarify this term further, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org