Ten years ago, I translated the first volume of Maria-sama ga Miteru as an educational project. It was way above my reading level. The translation is pretty awful. Thank goodness for Seki's much better translation here.
Ten years later, my Japanese language skill has improved little, but I'm slogging through it.
- Purchase book. Local Kinokuniya bookstore, or online via amazon.co.jp
- Rip pages out of book. Clean up with a paper cutter.
- Scan pages. Fujiscan sheet-feeding scanner can scan a whole book in just a few minutes.
- OCR pages. I use an ancient copy of ReadIris. It does a remarkably great job with most characters and an infuriatingly bad job with a few.
- Correct OCR errors. This takes almost as long as translation. But it's worth it, because the fewer the errors in the source text, the easier it is to get useful machine translation and dictionary lookups. I tend to correct 10-20 pages in a batch. After this, my eyes glaze over and I stop seeing errors.
- Translate. I use OmegaT for the UI. Its ability to re-use translations is not particularly helpful for novels of full sentences, but I like having some sort of UI that can show Japanese and English next to each other as I work through each page. I set up Google Translate API so that I get automatic machine translations. These are almost always hilariously bad, but can often pick up a couple meanings that dictionaries miss. I use jisho.org for my dictionary.
- Edit for grammar and smoothness. Sentence-by-sentence translation in OmegaT produces a stumbling translation that needs a bit more work. So I paste each translated chapter into Grammarly.com and read it as a chapter. Fix typos and grammar errors. Make things read a bit more smoothly.
Retain iconic phrases. Gokigenyou, onee-sama, and honorifics are all key identifying phrases. Leave them unchanged.
Translate meaning, not words. The Japanese text includes many amazingly complex compound sentences that are nigh unreadable if transliterated to English. It's okay to break up paragraph-long compound sentences. It's okay to insert speaker names when it might be unclear. It is okay to omit some words.
One thing I lack the ability to do, but really wish that I could, is to retain the flavor of each speaker. Yoshino is a bit more brusque than Yumi. Shimako is soft and prone to kashira.