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I've written my first novel in Spanish, my native language. The main character is Spanish and starts in Madrid, then goes to Zürich and ends up in the Alps.

I've tried to get it published with no success so far. Independently of the self-publishing idea, my "Plan B" is to translate it to English and try to find an US-based publisher.

I'm thinking a simple translation may not be enough if I want this to succeed in the American market; I'm thinking of making the character an American and starting the action in some city in the US, before moving the plot to Madrid. The main character's nationality doesn't affect the plot, and I can work a change in location between the inciting incident and the end of the first act without substantially altering the story.

Does this sound sensible? Is it obviously the right thing to do? Are there compelling arguments not to do it?

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So you are self-publishing it in Spanish? – John Smithers Dec 6 '13 at 15:06
Not yet, but that's the plan if my current attempts end nowhere, as have the previous ones. – ggambett Dec 6 '13 at 15:08
I wouldn't spend a second thinking about translation when I haven't published it in my native tongue yet. What would be the point? – John Smithers Dec 6 '13 at 22:20
The point would be getting the interest of an english speaking agent or publisher. – ggambett Dec 6 '13 at 22:39
You can get that interest if you show that your novel works in Spanish (works = sells). – John Smithers Dec 6 '13 at 22:40

As a reader I would tend to argue for direct translation: It gives a window into something I don't know.

As a writer I would argue for retelling: who wants to tell the exact same story again?

In either case I would make it clear which you did, so that speakers of both languages can decide If they want to read both.

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I'm also Spanish and when I read a translated book, let's say Harry Potter (his nationality doesn't affect to the plot), I don't care if he's British or wherever.

If you wrote the story in the way you think is the best, I don't think you should change it; even more when you say it (the nationality) doesn't affect.

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