Three of the most popular posts on my blog over the years have explored the relationship between translators and agencies: ‘18 reasons why an agency might stop working with you’; its sequel, based on feedback on the original post, ‘22 more reasons why an agency might stop working with you’; and a post looking at this relationship from the opposite perspective, ‘Thirteenish reasons why you might stop working for an agency’.
Today’s post is a sequel to the latter based on comments made on the original post, my own experience and opinions I have read in forums or discussed with colleagues in person.
The word is out: having your translations revised is THE way to grow as a translator. If you continue to work in your bubble without any feedback, you’ll make the same mistakes again and again, your word choices will remain narrow, you’ll never learn to think outside the box and your translations might never ever sing.
“I am not sure that one gains too much useful knowledge from a course on revision. Experience of being revised (whether monolingually or via translation) and revising is what makes you a better revisor. The interaction involved in close translator/reviser collaborations on big projects can be an abundant source of learning.”
“I work in a team of three where one person translates, another revises the translation (and the translator accepts/rejects the changes) and a third colleague does a final proof. This system generally works well and we all learn from each other too.”
“My case is special, because we are essentially an in-house team (some of us off-site), working for a host of departments/divisions as our ‘clients’. We have the same cycle for nearly all projects: translator – content reviser – translator – language reviser – translator – final approval (head of team). Therefore the translator has the final say in what to accept or reject from the reviser’s changes. But again, it is generally based on discussion and consensus.”
In August I rediscovered what an exceptionally beautiful part of the world the Lake District is (we were blessed with sunshine throughout our stay, however). Now that Brexit has probably scuppered my plans of moving back to the Continent to retire near the lakes in northern Italy to be close to family, I might just end up in the Lake District instead.
Back in October 2014 on my old blog I wrote about some reasons why an agency might stop working with you. As both the original post and the republished version on this blog on WordPress, My Words for a Change, amassed a lot of interest and comments, I’ve highlighted some more reasons below why you might suddenly find an agency no longer calls or emails you. They are based on the feedback and a few of my own observations.
Although this and the previous post focus on working with agencies, some of the points are equally valid for working with direct clients. I hope you find them useful.
In February I learned that LinkedIn lets you classify your connections using a feature called tagging. By using simple keywords, you can group people by where you met them, the language combination they translate, whether they interpret, live in your country, etc. I must admit I haven’t tried this yet, but it does sound quite useful.
If you’d like to find out more about how to get the most out of LinkedIn, please see my miniseries on the topic. I’ve written five parts so far and I still have at least two more to go. As with most things connected with my blog, my problem is not finding the ideas, but the time, especially as I’ve been spending a lot more it with my family recently.
May 2020 update: The purchase order has been updated. Please see this post for the new versions.
Towards the end of September I blogged about my ideal purchase order and asked readers for your opinion. I was worried that the form might ask clients to fill in too much information. And most of your comments reinforced that view. You agreed that many would baulk at the idea of providing so many details, even though doing so could save a lot of hassle and misunderstandings later on.
Busy direct clients with little understanding of the translation process are probably better served with a phone call or a few back-and-forth emails to make sure everything is clear. This type of exchange also helps to build a relationship that could lead to future projects. Agency clients, on the other hand, although they are more used to filling in forms, might not know the answers to all the questions and feel reluctant about bothering their end client with them. They also have their own processes in place and wouldn’t appreciate pandering to one of their service providers.
I graduated from Leeds’ Centre for Translation Studies in 2012, having taken the MAATS (MA in Applied Translation Studies) Masters.
I was somewhat atypical in my cohort as I had already completed a year working as an intern translator in a small (or pocket-sized) agency in Castres, Southern France. As such I was already well accustomed to translating huge amounts of text, translating to deadlines, and working on my own as well as with editors and proofreaders. I continued to work freelance as a translator for my former employer throughout my Masters, which did help me to keep some perspective on my studies.
For a while now I’ve been working on the type of purchase order I’d like to give to both my agency and direct clients (especially new ones) so that we all know where we stand and are clear about the price and what it does and does not include. Today I’ve been inspired by reading Two to Tango: Tips for Project Managers from a Freelance Translator (parts 1 and 2) by Igor Vesler on Lingua Greca’s blog to finally finish my first draft. I’m posting it here so I can get your feedback and comments, because I’m a little concerned that it might be overly long and put some clients off.
I’m sure many of you can identify with this scenario: an end client sends an agency similar documents on a regular basis and most are largely the same with just a few tweaks needed here and there to incorporate new information. Sometimes this work is handled by agencies that farm the job out to the first available translator, provide them with a TM and tell them not to touch 100% matches (which they don’t pay for). Sometimes the agencies are quite happy for you to alter the TM and pay a sliding-scale revision rate for matches. Other times the agency sends the work to the same translator year after year, who can then use his or her own TM to do the job. However, in the latter case, the one I’m most familiar with, the preferred usual translator is inevitably not always available, so the document is sent to another translator to process along with copies of previous translations.
‘Don’t undersell yourself.’
‘If the rate is too low, then don’t accept it.’
‘Stop working for the bulk market and look for direct premium clients.’
I expect you’ve heard the above in some shape or form quite a lot in your translation career. If you attend conferences, or see the tweets generated at them, and regularly read blog posts, then rates and translation markets will definitely be on the agenda. You’ve no doubt felt yourself stirring to the rallying cry of seizing the moment and steeling yourself to boldly tread where you have not dared venture before now (in other words at the very least not letting others walk all over you).