Start Translating (Chinese Novels) : Part 1 – How To Choose A Novel


This article was adapted by AmeryEdge based on GoodGuyPerson’s original post on Reddit.


The most important first step of your translations adventure begins with selecting a novel. Whether you are a native speaker or a machine translator, the novel you choose will have long lasting consequences on your translation experience. Compiled underneath are the four main methods for deciding on your very first novel.

1. Picking up an available novel

Due to the immense length of many Chinese web novels, the number of currently completed translated novels can be counted on one hand. If you want to start translating, but do not know where to begin, consider picking up an already dropped novel or a previously released teaser. These series have often laid the necessary foundation of translating the initial terms and vocabulary of the world within the novel, saving you countless hours deciding on things like side character names and cultivation level titles. Of course, you are free to improve on the previous translator’s work if you believe that their translation was inaccurate or incomplete.

For places that contain a collection of teasers series available expressly for your translating purposes, look no further than the magazine you are reading. All novels are available for pick up, unless stated otherwise in their description (+ Available or – Taken) on our website (

2.  Approach a translator for recommendations

One of the best ways to get started is to simply talk to a currently active translator. Many have started due to their own passion for web novels, and usually have an extensive reading library to draw from. This is not always true, but even in the case of a translator being unable to provide you with help due to various reasons, many are immersed in the community enough to know things like secret unreleased projects and can guide you away from problematic choices as well as direct you to more suitable personnel.

3. Popularity Ranking

A reliable method that will ensure your novel will be of a certain quality is to search through the top rankings of various novel websites. You can find top ranked novels in a certain genre by perusing through the translated charts at or go to the source themselves if you can understand them.

Popularity in its origin country does usually mean that it will receive a high evaluation in the English speaking community, but there are many factors that could potentially influence this like genres (Fantasy and Xianxia are much more popular than Historical, for example), though that should not stop you from choosing a series that you love and believe should be shared with the community.

4. Find other works from your favourite author

A much less reliable method, but one that has worked well in the past, is to search for novels from the authors you have personally enjoyed. Name recognition really does help your project during its starting phase. Often, you will be disappointed to find that many well-known authors’ works have already been translated by others due to the exact same reason.


An important point you should keep in mind while deciding on the series you want to translate is that you should always read several chapters of the said novel first. No matter how detailed and reliable the reviews and rankings are, your own personal opinion of the novel will have the greatest impact on your work ethics.

There are of course many other ways to approach this same problem, and by no means should you believe that this is the be all and end all guide on finding the perfect novel for yourself. Join forums and ask for recommendations, read through best-of lists and be active in the community through the subreddit r/noveltranslations, or simply draw from your own reading experience.

Perhaps you already know the novel you want to translate, or have relied on one of the above methods to determine your choice. If that is the case, read on to our next guide about the actual process of getting your translation project up and running.

This article was originally published in Edgenotes: The Novel Translations Magazine Issue #1.




1 Comment

  • KitchenGuyd

    May 24, 2016 at 8:29 am Reply

    I’m not sure why but this blog is loading extremely slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end?
    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

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