Tag Archive | quality

Babelcube beware: what authors need to know before signing a Babelcube contract

Boudicca German web

The German edition of Boudicca was beautifully translated by Christina Loew. Thanks to frequent communication and Ms. Loew’s professionalism, the translation process was smooth and easy — exactly what most authors are looking for when joining Babelcube.

If you subscribe to this blog you know that in 2016 I took my books deeper into the global market.  After an exasperating fore into the Chinese market via Fiberead, I had high hopes for Babelcube, a platform for translation that mirrors many of the features familiar to authors who use Amazon’s ACX.com site for audio production.  But as with ACX, successful production and publication requires understanding the system and knowing how — and when — to walk away from something that is not working.

The ability to walk away is important for independent authors because a poorly translated book is damaging to the author’s brand; it reflects on the author as much if not more so than the original editions written by the author in her or his native language.  Therefore an author’s career is at stake each time the author signs a translation contract.  Don’t mess with this, my friends.  As much as you want to be sweet and nice when it comes to dealing with potential translators your life depends on you being picky and walking away when you can from any deal or possible deal that doesn’t uphold your author brand.

The first place you can walk away is when a translator first sends you an offer to translate.  This is the best time to fully vet the candidate.  Don’t skimp on this and do not feel obligated to accept any particular offer. We all want to be nice and we want to give people their break into a new career.  The problem with doing that is you may end up with poor quality work because the person has never been tested in the professional world as a translator.  Before signing anything TALK TO THE TRANSLATOR — don’t just look at the profile and give the person the benefit of the doubt because s/he seems likable.  Remember that this is a form of job interview and treat it as seriously as any job interview you’ve been on.  If anything does not smell right or you aren’t sure of anything at all politely decline.

But let’s say you’ve accepted the contract.  The next place and final place you can walk away is when the translator submits the first ten pages. In evaluating these, don’t just look at the words on the page but the FORMATTING because, as with your own books you self-publish, the formatting and editorial can make or break the book.  If anything seems like you would not submit those ten pages as a stand alone, polished work DECLINE THEM — this is your last and ONLY chance to get out of the contract.  Despite what you may see in the system, this is the actual point of no return for you.  Once those ten pages are accepted you are committed to publishing the book — no matter the quality of the final product you are given.

And this is the part that no one ever mentions to you:  you cannot decline to publish a completed book on Babelcube — even though there is a button in the review process that says “decline this translation.”

What happens if you do hit the “decline” button?  Firstly you are asked to confirm and warned that confirming the decline will open a dispute with Babelcube.  What this means is that they will investigate and make a ruling.  If they rule for you, the translator has to fix the errors.  If they rule against you then you owe the translator an undisclosed amount of money.  But the system doesn’t tell you that.  I found out by asking via email after I reviewed the final document on one of my books and deemed it of such poor quality that I was not comfortable with continuing.

In essence you have to approve the final book.  You can ask for some changes (hit “return” and then send a message to the translator to do so), but you actually DO have to hit “accept translation” and then publish the book. “Reject translation” means you are willing to pay for the translator’s time for a book that you will not publish.

For most people it’s far cheaper to enlist the help of someone outside of Babelcube’s system to help you fix the document so you can publish — which is exactly what I am doing right now.

This is why it is critically important that you wait until each translation is complete before signing another contract with a translator. Even after publishing one or two books all the way through the process (meaning the book is live Amazon, iBooks, Scribd, etc.) with a translator, my experience shows that it is best to only contract one book at a time with a specific translator.  Life happens and schedules change.  Limiting yourself to one contract at a time per translator helps everyone balance time and priorities to the satisfaction of all parties and empower everyone to create the best work possible.

In summary, Babelcube can be an excellent platform for translating books into multiple languages.  But success with it requires the author always beware of its inner workings and courageous enough to walk away from any project that does not meet expectations either before the contract is signed or when receiving the first ten pages.

This is your brand.  Protect it.

In this bitter cold, a missive to Congress and Parliament

Dear Congress of the United States of America and Parliaments of the western industrialized world:


Forest River. winter sunsetThis week we the residents of the United States and Canada are experiencing the sort of dangerous cold weather that kills in a matter of minutes.  This is the sort of weather where if you have no safe home to go to you really run the risk of going to sleep and never waking up again. This storm will kill thousands of people whose names are lost because we think they do not matter anymore. But each of us may easily find ourselves wandering the streets, alone, exposed to this bitter cold, never knowing when we go to sleep if we will ever wake up again.

Count your blessings for your home — then do anything and everything you can to help those without food, shelter, and warmth.

Yes, I know this is difficult for you.  You cannot relate to the rest of us.  You have more money than any single person can ever spend.  You do not look like most of us nor do you have the same life experiences as most of us.  So I can see why you have a hard time understanding how much we are suffering.  You have probably not shivered in your home because it cost too much to properly heat your home or insulate it from the cold. You have probably never had to find ways to make three days worth of food last for a week.  You have probably also never had to eat food not suitable for eating because it was the only food available to you.

We have.

Instead of bickering among yourselves in your comfort and ease, please please walk a mile in our shoes.


Eighty years ago everyone suffered together in the Great Depression and our countries were all stronger for it.  Stronger because instead of looking down at those of us without proper shelter, clothing, and food, those elected to your same offices you hold together experienced these things with us and therefore became resolved to create jobs, to build roads and bridges and repair those things that needed to be fixed.  They put in place measured designed to give everyone somewhere safe and warm to live and spend the winter.  And they were determined that no one in countries as great as ours would go hungry — especially our children.

I ask you to please care about us again!

No one is “surplus population.”


Please stop treating us as if we are!




Laurel A. Rockefeller


K-cup (pod) Coffee Verses Drip Coffee: a Cost Comparision

Not surprisingly, this is one of my most popular articles ever.


Folgers ground coffee in a washable muslin coffee filter.

Folgers ground coffee in a washable muslin coffee filter.

K-cup (pod) Coffee Verses Drip Coffee: a Cost Comparision

A Look at the Costs of Brewing Your Morning Cup of Coffee

Posted January 21st, 2013

Single cup coffee makers are all the rage right now. Whether you go for a Keurig, a Cuinsart, or any other popular brand, “k-cup” coffees are the quick and easy way to brew high quality beverages. Typically all a person needs to do is select the desired beverage, insert the cup, set the correct brew size, and then press one button! It sounds terrific.

But is it a good investment, particularly in this economy where so many families are struggling to afford the basics? Let’s break down the costs and compare them with traditional coffee makers.

Initial cost:

K-cup style coffee makers range in price, depending on brand, model, features, and retailer, between $100 and $300. To get a sense of overall prices, I checked major retailers Walmart and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Their entire K-Cup beverage makers fell within this range, though sales can reduce this somewhat.

Traditional basket and cone drip coffee makers, by contrast, start at around $15 and can go as high as $200 for top brand units offering extensive features – such as built-in coffee grinders, duel carafes, specialized water displays, and other specialized extras. Non-powered single cup drip coffee makers (perfect for camping) can sell for less than $10, making this traditional choice also the most economical.

Coffee cost:

K-cups offer a broad range of beverage choices, all using the unique k-cup pod. Depending on the beverage chosen, brand, and quality, these k-cups cost anywhere from $8 for 16 k-cup servings to $60 for a package of 72 servings. Since literally dozens of brands and styles of beverages are available, it pays for k-cup users to shop around to find the best deal.

Compare this with your typical 10 oz. can of automatic drip coffee from a major brand sold at your favorite supermarket. A 10-oz can yields from 50 to 90 servings, depending on how much coffee you put into the basket at one time. These ten ounce cans typically sell for $3 to $7, depending on brand and store promotion. Specialty brands may cost more, but typically yield no less than 30 servings per pound and usually far more than 30 servings per pound.

Extra expenses:

Traditional basket/cone drip coffee makers typically use disposable paper filters which sell for anywhere from $2/package to $10/package, depending on brand, retailer, and number of filters. Over time, these disposable filters add up. Fortunately the options for permanent filters has increased with time. Manufacturers now sell nylon or gold-coated nylon permanent filters for a modest cost of around $10-$20. These filters do wear out over time and are not biodegradable.

In response to the high cost of buying k-cup pods, permanent k cup filters similar in design to the ones used in regular drip coffee makers are now starting to become available. I found one set of two permanent k cup baskets on Amazon for about $15, similar in cost to what a nylon permanent filter (1) will cost you for a drip style coffee maker.

The newest coffee filter options are machine washable cotton filters for drip coffee. Major retailers do not yet sell them, but you can find hand-made coffee filters at craft shows and on etsy.com for typically less than $5 each. Simply insert the filter as you would a normal paper filter, with the closed seams facing the coffee (right side towards coffee), fill with coffee, and brew as usual. After the coffee is finished, simply dump the grinds (your acid loving plants love used coffee grinds), rinse out, and set to dry. Hand or machine wash about once every week or two. I use these and alternate between two such filters, enabling me to launder one while using the other.

Unlike paper filters, these fabric filters let the coffee oils come through, producing a richer and more pleasing flavor. Best yet, cotton coffee filters are 100% biodegradable, making them the greenest of all choices for making your morning coffee.

Because of the size and shape involved, fabric style permanent filters are unlikely to be producible for k cup makers, even with a minimal seam allowance. These coffee makers require a ridged pod to work properly.

In summary, k cups are your most expensive home brewing option. If you drink just one cup of coffee per day every day, you will spend $20 or more in the month for your coffee compared with about $5 with drip coffee. Entry level k cup machines cost around $100 compared to entry level drip machines which average around $20. Even with the cost of filters, k cup coffee costs you at least 5x what drip coffee costs, an expense that may be greater than buying ready-brewed coffee at your favorite restaurant, convenience store, or coffee shop.

For me, the choice is clear: I’m sticking with my drip coffee maker and fabric filters!