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Crowd funding: many little ones make it big!

Thanks to the revolution in the publishing industry, with e-books, bookapps and whatnot, the present-day writer has more than ever a very wide range to spread and promote his work. Growing each day, the social media are a source of information and distribution. With all these innovations, the World is now truly a village. Through Facebook and Twitter we keep contact with “friends” abroad, spreading and receiving information. On the internet, stories of unexpected successes are circulating: people on YouTube announce their activities and suddenly attract millions of viewers, writers are seeing their e-books downloaded by the ten thousands.

Hence, there is a possible downside to the phenomenon. Because it has become so easy to present your work as an e-book on  international platforms like and IBookstore, the danger exists that the quality of  “published” books decreases. Who has edited the book? Who stated that it is a valuable piece of writing? We can only guess. However, was the judgement of the publishers in the past so much better? We all know the stories about rejected novels that later became bestsellers.

Of course, a good and alert Publisher remains the best way for an author to gain recognition. Nevertheless,  I feel the lure of the wide, wide world. That lure has touched me deeply lately. Baudelaire’s Revenge  and Return to Hiroshima, two of my recent novels, have often been quoted in the Dutch and Belgian press as being “international”. That remark made me think, and think again. First, I have established international contacts based on translation fragments of both novels. The response is encouraging, however, to get the complete novels translated, remains a difficult – and expensive – task, nevertheless essential for a contract with a foreign Publisher. After having read the fragments, Publishers may show interest, but, obviously, they want to read the complete novel in their language before giving the green light for publication. I found professional translators who have affinity with my work: Brian Doyle for the English translations, Marie Hooghe and Daniel Cunin for French, and Heidi Bern for Norwegian. They deliver superior quality and labour conscientiously on each detail. Quality work has to be paid well. A fulltime writer in a small language community, such as I am, does not have the means to pay for translations of his work. The question though is, how to breach this hurdle? In a case like this, crowd funding might be the solution: people with a heart for culture, can buy translation participations for a modest prize and  have the prospect of a partial or even total refund with, on top, the chance of receiving a “cultural bonus”. Let me give you an example: for the English translation of Return to Hiroshima, I need about 11.000 euro (that is, approximately, 14.500 dollar or 9.200 Pound Sterling at current rates). That seems a lot, but it is a hefty novel and it costs months to give it a stylish translation. Would it be so hard to find 1.000 to 1.500 people willing to invest in a translation participation of 10 euro, knowing that, after publication of the English version (or in other languages) of the novel, they will be refunded from the moment there is enough profit to do that? We shall see. Companies, agencies and other big sponsors hopefully will do more than just buying a single participation, which will make the total needed amount of sponsors/participants smaller. In other artistic endeavours, crowd funding has already been established, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, but I’m not sure if a writer in a small country like Belgium has ever tried it before by offering to purchase translations participants on his website.

I had to conquer a certain amount of shame before I started: for someone of my generation – I’m 58 - it feels a bit like “mooching”. But, lately, I have met many younger people whom I owe thanks to for their practical advice, technical support, encouragement and enthusiasm. They have a radical different vision: for them crowd funding is hip and cool.

So, able this “greybeard” to become hip and cool and buy a share from this “moocher”.

Take a look at the sponsor page for more details.
Also, a list of participants/sponsors is available.

(Just one more thing: don’t assume that the style of my translated books will resemble my blog entries. My English is sufficient for writing a blog like this, however not for something “fancy” like a novel. Therefore, accept my apologies in advance for any(small or big) errors in the syntaxes.)

Translations Participate and support the translation of two novelsmore information


Persistence leads to results: Hearts don’t beat on letters is my first story in English that has been published in the literary magazine Conclave, a Journal of Character, issue 4.  Conclave is published twice a year as an e-book and in paperback (more than 300 pages).

Brian Doyle translated the original story in Dutch with great elegance into English. He also has just finished the  translation of  my novel Baudelaire’s Revenge.

Some writers and poets who have already gained a substantial readership in the States have contributed to Conclave, so it’s very nice that for issue 4  a Belgian writer has been selected.

The story is set in the late fifties in Algeria. A legionnaire from the Belgian province of Henegouwen has the leading role.

Very soon, I will present The Abomination on the English market. I wrote the story directly in English. Its theme are the Ghost Killers (shabiha) from Bashar al-Assad who have committed many atrocities in Syria.

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