Translated non-fiction titles


Thursday, 13 November

7.30: Buffet dinner

De Balie, Centre for Culture and Politics
Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10
Phone 553 51 51

Friday, 14 November

De Rode Hoed
Keizersgracht 102
Phone +31 (0)20 638 56 06

Friday morning, 9.30 - 12.30 am

The Author


Maarten Asscher


Salomon Kroonenberg

  1. Exactly the same knowledge can be used to write either a standard textbook or a work of quality non-fiction.
  2. The essential differences between the two lie in the personal vision and autobiographical content the author of a quality non-fiction book brings to the text: the author’s own vision, his personal touch and a connection with current debates are the most important contributory factors to the success of a scholarly book aimed at a broad readership.
  3. A personal vision turns a book into an eye-opener for its readers; it no longer merely deals with the subject matter but offers an entirely new perspective.
  4. The creation of a personal vision requires cherry picking, a search for examples that best illustrate the arguments and standpoints of the book. The more an author draws on personal experience, the more likely it is that the reader will feel involved with the subject.
  5. A work of non-fiction by an academic author will be more comprehensive than a book by an academic journalist, even though both may have the same basic intentions. The non-fiction author has an intimate understanding of the value of the research.

Patrick Everard

  1. Publishers do not ask themselves often enough: What does the public at large want to read about and in what form?
  2. ‘Ordinary’ people want to know more about scholarly subjects than academics tend to assume; a publisher must aim to be the ideal bridge between narrow academic circles and a broad readership.
  3. When an academic study is ‘translated’ into a non-fiction book, part of the intention must be to bring out the beauty of the subject.
  4. An author deserves a publishing house that will support and coach him as he searches for the best form in which to tell his story.
  5. Self-interest dictates that a publisher must maintain a well-informed network in the academic world. How else can he know who could write a good literary non-fiction book on a given subject?

Detlef Felken

  1. The first task of an editor in this field is to figure out in which category his author belongs. Is he able to address himself only to scholars or does he know the difference between writing for specialists and writing for non-specialists?
  2. A book written by an academic author but aimed at a general readership should fulfil a number of demands, which absolutely have to be discussed with the author before he starts writing.
  3. Publishers should encourage their authors to make themselves visible outside the academic field and to speak up in public when they have something to say. Once an academic author turns into a ‘public intellectual’, the mission of the publisher has been accomplished.
  4. Academic authors who become public intellectuals usually learn a great deal about communication, about the way a book should be written and about how its arguments can be marketed.
12.30 - 2.00 pm: Lunch
Friday afternoon, 2.00 - 5.00 pm

The Publisher & the Agent

Jennifer Crewe

  1. Although university presses have become more like trade publishers, there remain important differences, including the manner in which university press editors make their selections, and the requirement that most university press editors publish not just trade books but textbooks, scholarly monographs, and sometimes reference titles as well.
  2. University press editors should, however, resist the temptation to dress up a scholarly book as a trade book; if it is not a true trade book it will behave like a scholarly book in the market.
  3. As university presses have added more trade titles to their lists, they have had more contact with agents. Agents are often not used to the idea that university press editors acquire in certain specific fields, so often it can be difficult for them to figure out which editor at a university press to submit a proposal to.
  4. University press editors often feel as though agents are sending them projects that have already been turned down by commercial houses. We also often feel as though agents send us a proposal with a brief sales pitch but nothing of substance about the book or its market. Finally we have the impression that while agents may work to edit and refine proposals by ‘big’ authors, they don’t work much on the proposals and manuscripts they send to us, mainly because they don’t have strong sales potential.
  5. It is important for university press editors to cultivate relationships with agents, to explain the kind of information they need to consider a book, to explain exactly what kinds of books they are looking for, and to make it clear that they would like to be in the running for important books that are also being submitted to commercial nonfiction houses.

Catherine Clarke

  1. The literary agent is ‘alchemical’ in the transition from academic expert to successful general non-fiction writer. The question is: How can you turn base metal into gold?
  2. Storytelling is the most important skill for a general non-fiction writer - and, after academic credentials, the most important factor of success.
  3. The art of writing a publishing proposal is as important as writing a book, because it is easier to sell a non-fiction book to a trade publisher on proposal than as a finished manuscript.
  4. Men write better non-fiction than women.

Floris Cohen

  1. The publication of scholarly books written in our native languages and aimed at a wide audience may well be on its way out, as the publication of articles in specialist English-language journals that operate by peer review is increasingly decisive for our academic careers.
  2. At least once in our careers, we should be able to take a year off in order to set down, for the benefit of a wider audience than just our fellow scholars, the net yield of our research.
8.00 pm: Dinner

Ship Chandlers Warehouse
Geldersekade 8
Phone 06 463 885 67

Saturday, 15 November

Saturday morning, 9.30 am - 1.00 pm

The Translator

Diane Webb

  1. Translation is a continuation of the writing process. A good translation is often better than the original.
  2. Many non-native speakers of English now feel compelled to write in English or are required by their publishers to do so. This places serious constraints on their means of expression. The result will never be as good as a book written in the author’s native language and entrusted to a good translator.

Giuseppe Laterza

  1. Clear writing coincides with clear thinking. So there should be no great difference between a text addressed to specialists and one intended for the general public.
  2. The construction of a narrative can be particularly important to the success of a work of light non-fiction.
  3. University texts in Humanities no longer become bestsellers. Nowadays, following a progressive polarization, the distance between the two markets is much greater than it used to be.
  4. Universities could contribute enormously to the quality of non-fiction by teaching students how to write effectively and engagingly. Writing well should be an integral part of any profession, no matter how scientific.

Douwe Draaisma

  1. Translators deserve as much supervision and assistance as the author can summon up.
  2. Translating has to do with the transition from one language to another, not with the transition from an academic to a non-academic readership.
  3. The term ‘popular’ should be banned from discourse on non-fiction books.
  4. University presses should learn to handle trade books like trade books.
  5. University presses should help authors fight the academic bias against books.
  6. Pro memorie: There is no such thing as an interesting topic. Nor are there uninteresting topics.
1.00 pm: Lunch
3.00 - 7.00 pm: Cultural programme

Hobbemastraat 22.