I saw a recent comment on here on Rainy that essentially thanked me for not having ads on my website and for not splitting up chapters unnecessarily. First, let me begin by saying that I am not calling anyone out and I am very glad that people like Rainy. However, I have noticed a growing trend in the Asian novel translation community of what seems to me (as a translator) like entitlement in the reader base. For the most part, I do not think this entitlement is intentional and neither do I believe it is malicious. But it is definitely something that has been coming into contention between translators and readers in the community, and it has also become rather toxic over the past few years.
In hopes that I can spurn this out of the realm of toxicity and back into the realm of productive and good faith discussion, I would like to correct the misunderstanding I found in the above mentioned comment.
If you like the fact that I don’t have ads or don’t split up chapters, what you like is not my site per se, but rather the fact that I don’t make any money off of it.
I, personally, will not monetize my site because making money off of things I don’t own the rights to goes against my personal values. However, some translators do monetize their websites to cover for the costs and time commitment that translating requires. Please understand that there is a LOT of work, money (if a group hosts their own site), and opportunity cost that goes into running a translation site like this.
To put things into perspective:
Each light novel volume that I purchase averages around $6 USD. I have a total of 10 volumes listed on Rainy, which nets to around $60.
A Japanese-to-English freelance translation costs around $0.10 per word (this is a lowball estimate made on the fact that I am not a professional translator. I would contend, however, that my translation skills are pretty damn near, if not, professional. I will fight you on this). Each of my chapters/chapter parts are roughly 20 pages give or take. Assuming an average of 400 words per page nets about 8,000 words an upload. At $0.10 a word, that’s $800 every upload.
I also take about 0.5 hours per page to translate and edit. So, even if you treated translation as a minimum wage job (which it is not), I would still net an average of $80 for 10 hours per every upload.
If it wasn’t obvious already, translation is a SUBSTANTIAL economic deficit on my part.
There is a reason why translators who translate completely for free in this community are now a minority. Every upload I post is ~10 hours of my life, which could have been spent doing something else (opportunity cost), which I should have been compensated ~$800 for if this was a transaction, that I am giving away for free.
It is not unreasonable for a translation group to ask that readers see a few ads in exchange, especially when the translated material is available for free.
As I mentioned above, I do not monetize Rainy and I do not plan on monetizing Rainy in the future. I do not collect ad revenue, and therefore I do not care whether you turn on adblock or not.
But forgive me for feeling somewhat slighted when I am thanked for not putting ads on Rainy. I understand that the gratitude is given with the best of intentions. However, when you thank me for not having ads and/or not taking actions to increase the number of ads that readers see per chapter, you are essentially saying that the work I put in and gave you for free was worth so little to you that the inconvenience of having to see a few ads would somehow devalue it even further in your eyes.
For me, fan-translating is a labor of passion. I willingly eat the costs that come with it. I am fortunate enough that I am in a place where I can do that. However, this is not true of all translators or translation groups. For most of these groups, ad revenue is generally used to buy raws and maintain their website; it rarely amounts to profit. Please do not eschew these translators/groups of what little income they can get out of translating that they may need to offset the cost of translating.
EDIT: Most of my opinion comes from the Japanese-to-English light novel translation community. It is to my understanding that Chinese-to-English translation is a completely different game altogether, and that the above may not necessarily pertain to it.