Mapping the terrain and forming strategic alliances

Mapping the terrain

Get an overview of the relevant institutions that might be of help to you, such as ministries, agencies, bureaus and regional governments. Every country is different, you need to get to know yours. Where is the policy made concerning issues like copyright/authors’ rights, PLR, tax law and social security issues?

    • The ministries – of culture, education, finance, etc. (depending on the issue)
    • Arts Council
    • Language council or Academy
    • National book agency
    • Cultural institutes, like Goethe institut, Institut français etc.
    • Copyright agency
    • Other bureaus, directorates or agencies
    • Libraries, book shops, book clubs

Read the parties’ political programmes, to see which political parties would be supportive of your cause or particular issue. The answer might surprise you.

Figure out who is in power – sometimes ministers are not the most informed, but their advisers might be, or the head of the directorates or agencies.

  • Who are on which committees? Google them, find out what they look like, what their interests are. Do you know someone who might know someone who knows them? Would  any of them be likely to be receptive to your ideas or supporting the issue?
  • If you have a minority government, a party in opposition might in fact hold the key to the power, often this might be a rather insignificant party that might be grateful to be presented with issues to solve.
  • In a majority government, a junior politician might need an issue to boost his/her profile.

Befriend those who are befriendable.

Forming strategic alliances

Is your issue of a kind that others might support/that might be beneficial to others as well? Labour unions? Publishers? Authors? Embassies/cultural institutes? Festivals? Other artist organisations? Journalists?

Allies might be found in unlikely places, and, depending on the issue, not necessarily in the culture sector.

In many respects translators might be seen to as belonging to a larger precariat of self-employed service providers who might find a common cause with other actors in the gig economy. Maybe you could find an ally in parcel delivery drivers, working for a common cause of improving labour law, social security benefits etc. You might also find allies in the labour unions or syndicates organising freelancers. Link up with them, either by forming new or becoming a member of existing ones.

In many countries artists have gone together to create special interest organisations focusing on authors’ rights and social policy. Here are some examples:

Depending on the issue, you might find allies in existing non-profit organisations concerned with literature or in book fairs and book festivals:

    • CNL (Centre national du livre, France)
    • PEN (Pen International or your national branch)
    • ATLAS (ATLAS – Association pour la promotion de la traduction littéraire, France)
    • Pro Helvetia (Switzerland)

Media/opinion-makers: Are there any particular newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. sympathetic to your cause?

It might be fruitful to get in contact with publishers’ networks, in order to lobby for common causes and encourage good practices and quality standards. You might find some of your national publishers’ networks among the IPA and FEP members:

  • FEP (Federation of European Publishers)
  • IPA (International Publishers Association)

Check out this success story:

Down the Rabbit Hole: Working (and Surviving) as a Translator of Children’s Books