At this point, you should know enough about subtitling to get started producing something. Of course, you canít expect your first attempt to be perfect. You will, of course, continue to improve the more you tinker, revise, and revisit your subtitling process. Once youíve perfected your process and produced a quality subtitle that you feel is good enough for distribution, there are several things to consider.
The first, most obvious thing you should consider is whether or not the title you have been working on is licensed domestically. Even if the title is not yet available for sale, if a company has picked it up, you cannot make your subtitle publicly available. Technically any fan-subtitle distribution is illegal, but it is much more of an offense to distribute copyrighted material that a domestic company paid for legitimately and is trying to sell. With this in mind, you have a few choices for distribution.
If you plan on distributing your title yourself, there are some considerations you should explore. If you plan on making your titles available via the Internet, you should make sure you get a link on the AniPike. This will generate a lot of traffic to your distribution site. The problem with this, of course, is that the amount of time and equipment required in order to process all the requests youíll get may become immense. You may find yourself spending all your free time copying tapes, which admittedly isnít much fun.
Many people, like myself, have chosen not to distribute for themselves. Instead, you can look for already established distribution groups and send your tapes to them. Of course, nine out of ten distribution groups you find on the web are terrible. Donít send your titles to a group that charges absurd amounts for obtaining free subtitles. You and I both know that the price of bulk VHS tapes used for distribution is about $1.50 per professional quality tape. This tape is better than what you can buy off the shelf at your local video store. Visit American Videotape Warehouse for bulk tape pricing. Some distributors feel that they can charge $8 or even $12 a tape, which is absurd. Itís obvious that they are trying to profit from the sale of subtitles. ďFree Fan Subtitle, Not For Sale or RentĒ means something where I come from. Avoid these distribut... Ahem, bootleggers.
When I look for a distributor, I give immediate preference to those who offer Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelop (SASE) distribution. This means that the person who requests the tapes can send in their own blank tapes to the distributor in a postage-paid return mailer. No money is exchanged, so itís much more legal, and much more ethical. If you go in to distribution for yourself, I urge you to at least offer SASE requests, even if you still wish to do traditional pay-for-your-tapes distribution. I should warn you that you wonít make friends in the fan subtitling world if you think you can make a profit from distribution. Just donít do it. Charge a reasonable amount that just covers tapes and shipping. It is illegal, immoral, and downright wrong to justify absurd tape prices because of the cost of your VCRs. If you think you can make money from distribution, what are you doing reading this? I told you to stop at the very beginning!
Some people, like myself, enjoy working on titles that have already been picked up commercially, as well as other titles that arenít available anywhere else. Since we cannot distribute all our titles, we can, however, share our scripts. This is a favorable way of letting other people have access to timed translations so that they can purchase the import video and understand it. Also youíll find that sharing scripts with other subtitlers can be very rewarding. You can often find something you want from their script collections and they can find things they want from yours. This, in my opinion, is the best and safest way to ďget your work our there.Ē Sharing scripts will make you many friends in the subtitling world!