This week I received my author copies of Vietnam's edition of The Running Dream. I love my foreign editions. They're fascinating. I may spend more time marveling over them than I do the original book when it's finally something I can hold in my hands. By then, I've been over the manuscript dozens of times and figure there can be no surprises.
That's not always the case.
Sometimes the surprise is good - as in Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye, where there was the absolutely wonderful surprise of the fancy endpages.
And sometimes the surprise is not good - as also in Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye where the dedication page was (and is still) missing.
Usually, though, it's a matter of receiving the book, admiring it for a a little bit with the feeling of immense gratitude that it's finally, finally a real book, and then getting back to work.
The foreign editions are different, because everything about them is new and fascinating and mysterious. And the idea that I'm holding a book that I wrote but can't read gets me every time!
Sometimes the editions arrive and the art is a complete surprise. For example, when I received copies of the French translations of Sammy Keyes, I was shocked to see that Sammy's name had been changed to Sara Kay.
Who the heck was Sara Kay?
And why make her look like an angry Nancy Drew?
My agent assured me that the foreign publishers understand their marketplace better than we possibly could and to trust them. I have learned to do that. The Sammy Keyes books have done well in France, so maybe a girl with (what seems to be) a boy's name wouldn't fly in their market.
Sometimes the foreign publisher gets cover approval from the author prior to publication, which was the case with this Vietnamese version of The Running Dream. And I did do a double-take about the art. With the framing trees and the starry feel, it seemed to be art more representative of Flipped.
So I asked my agent about it, and she relayed my query to the publisher in Vietnam, who replied with this explanation: Our keyword is "dream". We show a healthy girl sleeping peacefully, as if after a fierce struggle. It's like a dream within a dream of Jessica.
Some other interesting details about the Vietnamese edition: The title, “Đường đua của những giấc mơ,” translates to something like “Race Track of Dreams,” and the book comes with a nifty star-shaped bookmark. Each chapter is labeled "Chuong" which translates to (big surprise) "Chapter," but it's the section headings that I haven't been able to figure out. I think this is because the "a" used in "PHAN" has a special symbol over it. Or a combination of marks.
The translations I've come up with are "Chalk" or "Phase." I'm pretty sure neither is correct because in analyzing the language, there are a variety of special symbols (and combinations of them) put on letters that change the meaning. The one (or combination) over this "a" looks like a turtle going to the left. There's also a turtle heading to the right on "ket" below "PHAN." (I'm sure these 'turtles' have nothing to do with slow and steady winning the race, although I'm applying my own symbolism anyway!)
So, see? It's fascinating. And that I can't read a word of it makes it even more so.
If you have any knowledge of the Vietnamese language, please share with us in the comments. And if you know anyone who'd be interested in the Vietnamese translation, here's a link.
Thanks for checking in. Here's to happy surprises landing in your mailbox. Looking forward to chatting with you in the comments!