Mentorship Program FAQ

Mentorship Program FAQ

If you have a question about ALTA's Mentorship Program, please take a look through these FAQs to see if your question is among them! If you're still unsure, you are welcome to email ALTA Program Manager Kelsi Vanada.

Who can apply?

I'd like to apply, but there is no mentorship offered for the language I translate from.

Based on the sponsoring institutions for a given year, applications will be limited to translators working from sponsored languages. However, translators working from any language may apply to the non-language-specific mentorship. Keep in mind, though, that this mentorship will be preferentially awarded to a translator working from an underrepresented or underfunded language.

Can undergraduate students apply?

Yes, we welcome applications from undergraduate students. Please refer to the other eligibility requirements on our program home page.

Can my co-translator and I apply as a team?

We welcome applications from translator teams. Our 2017-2018 mentorship year saw two sets of translator pairs, in fact! Please note, however, that the awarded travel stipend will NOT be doubled and is intended to be shared equally between co-translators.

Can I apply to more than one mentorship at a time? Can I submit more than one proposal to the same mentorship?

Yes, you are welcome to apply to more than one mentorship (and/or to submit more than one proposal to the same mentorship) if you meet the eligibility requirements listed on our website. Please note that you can only be accepted for one mentorship.

I applied to your program in the past and was not selected. May I apply again with the same materials?

Yes. We welcome applicants to reapply with the same materials. Our Mentorship Program is competitive, so if you are not selected it does not mean that you and your project are not qualified, but rather that we have a limited number of mentorships available each year.

You define an emerging translator as "someone who has published no more than one full-length work of translation." Does this include scholarly works? What if I have published some shorter translations or excerpts in literary journals? What if I have published translations from English into other languages?

Since the program is geared toward literary translation, having published scholarly works that are not literary would not disqualify you. Please do mention them in your cover letter or CV, so that the team evaluating your application may have a full picture of your experience. 

If you have published prose excerpts or poems in your translation in literary magazines or journals, you are welcome to apply. Likewise, please share these accomplishments in your cover letter or CV. 

If you have published literary translations from English into other languages, but not into English, you are welcome to apply. However, please be sure to share your accomplishments in your cover letter or CV.

Can I apply if I have an MA or MFA in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction? What about a degree in Translation?

Applicants who have an MA or MFA, but not in Literary Translation, will be considered. If your MA or MFA featured significant coursework in literary translation, however, you may not be eligible.

The application

Do I need to secure the rights to my project before submitting my application?

No, applicants are not expected to secure rights for their proposal. In other words, you do not have to have the rights to a particular text in order to propose translating it for this program. However, the selected mentee's project will be worked on based on availability of rights (meaning that if you are selected for the program and you cannot get the rights to translate the work, you will need to select another project to work on during the mentorship program). Mentors are generally able to provide advice about gaining the rights to translate your project if you are accepted as a mentee and have not yet acquired the rights to your project. That said, it is preferable to propose a project that hasn't yet been published in English translation.

In other words, it's good practice to secure the rights before beginning a project, but applicants are not expected to secure rights in order to submit their proposal. We do encourage applicants to check on the status of the rights.

Should the sample translation I submit be from the project I hope to work on if I am awarded a mentorship?

Yes, your sample translation should be from the project you're applying with. This makes the strongest case for your project. 

How can I find out if the project I'm proposing has already been translated into English?

We recognize that this can be difficult, but you should make your best effort to find out whether the work you are proposing has been translated into English before. Ideally, your project proposal would be to translate something that is currently unpublished in English. We encourage you to do some research to find out if any English versions already exist. WorldCat is one helpful site, but you can also use Google Books and other tools.
If your application is selected, your mentor will be able to provide some support with securing the rights for your translation. 

How will my application be evaluated?

Applications will be assessed based on the demonstrated promise of the sample translation, in addition to the stated program eligibility requirements. The guiding question for evaluating applications is "Which applicant would benefit most from the mentorship?" Selection of mentees is done by the mentor for each mentorship opportunity. In some cases, especially when there is a high volume of applicants for a given mentorship, ALTA program staff may create a shortlist for the mentor. 

How long should the project be that I propose?

The mentorship duration is nine months, and the emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in that time. They will only be advised on that particular project. Mentees should select a book-length project, such as a novel or play, a poetry collection, a short story collection, or a series of literary nonfiction essays.

When you ask for 8-10 pages for the sample translation, does that include the text in the original language? If I don't have a digital version of the original text, can I send a scan?

Please send 8-10 pages of translated text, meaning that the full file will be longer than that, since it will include the original. Please submit your translation and the corresponding original-language text as one document. (You may scan your original text, create a PDF, and combine this PDF with the PDF of your translation before uploading, OR you may paste clear, high-quality images of the original text into the same Word document as your translation.)

What are the formatting requirements? Can I send more than 10 pages of translation in my sample?

Please use a standard, legible 12-point font. Double-space your translation work if it is prose. Please do not send more than 10 pages of double-spaced translation (double spacing is not necessary for poetry). We understand that the corresponding source text may differ in length from the 8-10 pages in your translation, and this is not an issue.

Am I allowed to propose a project that is already underway, or must it be one that I have not yet started?

You can propose a project that is already underway. However, it is often the case that emerging translators will get the most out of their mentorship if they are able to apply what they learn to their translation practice as they work through the translation of their project. This may be more difficult if you have already fully translated the text you wish to propose.

Does my source text have to be published in the original language?

This is not a requirement, but in your project proposal you should explain the text's significance and merit.

Does "prose" include nonfiction?

Yes, prose does include nonfiction for the purpose of the ALTA mentorship. Applicants should propose creative nonfiction texts that present the translator with many of the same challenges as literary fiction, such as grappling with the author's unique voice and style, thinking about literary devices, complex sentence structures, and narrative techniques, and working with different types of passages, such as dialogue, descriptive writing, and inner monologue. Not that a single book has to contain all those challenges, but it gives you an idea of the kind of thing mentors will be looking for.

Can I submit a proposal to translate shorter works by multiple authors, or work in multiple genres?

Yes, proposals for anthologies are permitted. Please keep in mind that it can be more difficult to secure permissions for multiple texts. You should explain in your proposal what unifies the works you would like to translate and why excerpting your chosen works is important to your project.

Do I have to double-space my poem translations? 

For poetry, we leave formatting up to you, as that will likely be determined by the formatting of the original poems. However, if you're unsure about the formatting, you could double-space them and use a regular 12-point font such as Times New Roman.

Does the sample translation need to originate from the beginning of the selected text?

No, you may begin your sample from anywhere in the text. We just recommend choosing a sample that will be representative of the overall project! 

The Program and Beyond

Are mentees required to turn in their completed translation project at the end of the program?

No, we do not require proof of completion. If your project is published, however, we ask that you mention ALTA's Mentorship Program!