Confessions of a Freelance Translator: An interview with Gary Smith 1

“Welcome to one of the best jobs in the world!” screams the back cover of Gary Smith’s new book: Confessions of a Freelance Translator, Secrets To Success, a book offering practical, easily applicable tips to make a successful living out of freelance translation.

Gary Smith, a ProZ.com member, Certified PRO, trainer, event organizer and conference speaker, is an experienced proofreader and translator from Spanish and Catalan to English. A British native, he has lived in Spain for over two decades, offering webinars and talks internationally and around Spain.

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Gary Smith, author of “Confessions of a Freelance Translator, Secrets To Success”

In today’s post, I had a chance to speak with Gary about Confessions of a Freelance TranslatorSecrets To Success, the motivation behind the book, the process of writing it and the usefulness of the tips and tricks he provides throughout the book to translators starting out or who wish to make the leap to better earnings and work.


The interview

Me: What inspired you to write this book?

Gary: This is the kind of book I wish I’d had many years ago, so I could have avoided mistakes! Back then I would have loved this book with plenty of practical, applicable tips on freelance translation to start out or move up to higher earnings and productivity.

I think today in general there’s a generally positive attitude in the freelance translation community and a good example of that is Erik Hansson’s cathartic Facebook page “Things Translators Never Say” (TTNS) (voted winner of the ProZ.com Community Choice Award for best Facebook Page), which looks at frustrating situations with clients with humor and inspired this book’s title (there is a section in the book with funny situations with clients). It’s far better to laugh about such things with our colleagues around the world than to bang your head against the desk!

Even so, I felt there was a need for a book with this positive attitude that also gives a great deal of realistic, useful advice for translators about how to improve their situation. The Things Translators Never Say group gave me plenty of examples of typical problems faced by freelance translators, which helped me understand what they need and produce a book for them, all with a dash of of humour. And here it is!

Me:  What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Gary: Strangely, the same kind of things we come across as translators, since translators themselves are writers! In other words: organisation, editing, revising, reviewing, proofreading, layout, design, etc. Then, as our translation clients sometimes do, I’d discover something new or realize I’d forgotten to mention something, so I’d have to add it in a logical, coherent way. Sometimes I thought I’d never finish it!

It’s taken about three years to write and I’ve used material from my own talks as well as studying successful small businesses and listening to advice from my experienced translation colleagues, of course.

Me: How much of the book is realistic? Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own professional life?

Gary: All of it! But the difference with this book is that there are lots of examples we can all relate to from service providers we come across in everyday life, using similar “tricks of the trade” that are in fact relevant to all professions and applying them to translation services to help attract and keep good clients.

There are also many examples from my own experience in the profession and from translators I have known over the years. Too many good translators are let down by a lack of simple, practical business nous that doesn’t seem to get taught enough in formal education. Whether we like it or not, most translators have to be freelancers and therefore entrepreneurs to a certain extent to make a good living.

Me: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

Gary: Hmm…I’d say above all the message is that you can definitely make a good living out of translation by being a good professional and that the pros definitely outweigh the cons. It’s a great job if you get it right!

Me: Did you learn anything from writing your book? If so, what was it?

Gary: Well, as I’ve found when preparing my talks for congresses and webinars, when you want to teach something well and clearly you always end up fact-checking and learning something yourself, yes. I learned a lot from small business experts and even about sales psychology. And I also listened to some of my successful translation colleagues, of course! But with this book in particular, I observed service providers of all kinds, learning how they deal with their customers.

Me: Can we take a sneak peek at the book before its release?

29a0fa76-d14e-474b-86f9-6dec6a4fe8deThe book, through Gary: “…First, let’s put ourselves in our potential client’s shoes. The monolingual, monocultural client needs a text translated but knows nothing about translation, how to find a good translator, or how much they may reasonably charge. Their idea of a human translator may be a studious hermit sitting at a desk piled with paper dictionaries, holding a quill poised in the air as they muse over a mixed metaphor. On the other hand, the only translator everybody in the developed world has heard of is Google Translate. Everybody has used the famous word cruncher once in a while to see what their Chinese tattoo actually means or get the gist of a foreign news article or recipe. So our potential client knows of Google Translate at least. They also know it is capable of translating thousands of words per second for free. And then they turn to you and discover that it will take days and cost several hundreds or thousands of euros. Understandably, they may well be taken aback.

To understand their predicament, imagine your car breaks down in a town you don’t know and you have to find a decent mechanic to repair it. At one garage they nonchalantly tell you it’s going to cost € 5‌‌‍0 and take half an hour. At another, they shake their heads sagely and tell you it’ll cost € 1,000 and take a week. Who’s telling the truth? Who knows what they’re doing? Who’s trying to rip you off? In order to gain a potential client’s confidence, there are little strategies that mechanics and other service providers from lawyers to doctors can and do use to allay our fears and convince us to choose their services. We, too, can apply such strategies to gain our clients’ trust. We shall look at them throughout this book.”

Me: When will the book be released and how will readers be able to purchase it?

Gary:  The book will be made available any time now at Lulu.com.

The book

Confessions of a Freelance Translator is divided into easily digestible sections relating to: finding, keeping and dealing with clients, setting fees, visibility, guiding the client through the translation process, freelance organisation in general, specialisation with some useful tips on scientific and technical translation, a general discussion of hot topics (e.g. machine and crowd translation), some tips on small interpreting jobs and of course some hilarious examples of confessions of a freelance translator!


Get this book →

ProZ.com community book: share your knowledge and stand out as a published author Reply

topOSTProZ.com has launched the ProZ.com community book project, an initiative to help language professionals to spread useful information among potential clients and colleagues, while promoting themselves as experts in a given field or topic.

The ProZ.com community book will feature articles written by site  members on topics of interest to the translation community that may range from machine translation, cloud-based translation tools and new translation technologies, to rates, training and  work-life balance, among other topics.

The initiative does not only give language professionals the opportunity to promote themselves as seasoned professionals, but also to become  published authors and enjoy  the benefits  this offers, including:

  • Visibility: published authors become visible among peers and this creates an advantage for them, especially when time comes to attract the attention of clients.
  • Credibility: book authors and collaborators get instant credibility and authority in connection with the field or topic in which they publish. This in turn translates into becoming not only a source of information, but also a resource for anyone in need of  specialized information.
  • Permanence: books are born to stay regardless of the format in which they get published and a book that goes around  is also a book that keeps promoting  its  content and author(s) at no extra cost!
  • Opportunities: many times names associated with books result in invitations to speak at events or offer training, and eve n to participate in further publications.
  • Networking:  the discussion of a book is a good  way to break the ice!  Published authors may be invited to participate in discussions with their readers  via email,  in social networks and at  events.
  • Clients:  published authors know their field, a quality searched for by good clients. And because they are seen as  experts, clients will  rarely try to get discounts for their specialized  services.

All ProZ.com members are invited to submit an article to be reviewed for possible inclusion in the community book until February 29th, 2016, 23:59 GMT. If you are not a ProZ.com member, become one today and start enjoying  all the benefits the site has to offer, including the community book.


Are you a published author?  Share a link to your material below.

En 2016 Argentina sigue de powwow: ¿te sumás? Reply

En 2015, el equipo de ProZ.com en Argentina propuso la iniciativa ¡Argentina está de powwow! y convocó a todos los traductores e intérpretes argentinos —y afines— a invitar a otros colegas a visitar y conocer sus ciudades organizando un powwow presencial.

Los powwows de ProZ.com son reuniones informales de grupos de usuarios del sitio organizados por traductores locales y que representan una excelente oportunidad para entablar relaciones profesionales con otros colegas y socializar con ellos.

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Primer powwow de 2015 – Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires

Así fue como a lo largo de este año se organizaron encuentros en diferentes puntos del país –Entre Ríos, Corrientes, Buenos Aires, Santa Fe y Córdoba entre otros– para conocer a las personas detrás de los perfiles:

Powwows de ProZ.com de 2015

Además, el pasado 18 de diciembre, los profesionales argentinos también tuvieron la oportunidad de reunirse on-line en el primer powwow virtual argentino en el que conversaron sobre tarifas, métodos de cobro, certificaciones, estrategias de publicidad, hicieron amigos nuevos y pasaron un buen momento.

En 2016, la convocatoria continúa abierta para todos los usuarios de ProZ.com que tengan la identidad verificada en sus perfiles o que sean miembros pagos del sitio, y que residan en cualquier rincón de Argentina o el mundo. En otras palabras, todos están invitados a proponer y organizar un powwow. ¿El objetivo? Conocernos, intercambiar experiencias y pasarla bien.

Felicitaciones a Stef Buiatti, organizadora del powwow en Gualeguaychu, por resultar ganadora del día de spa sorteado entre todos los organizadores, y gracias a todos los demás organizadores por invitarnos a visitar sus ciudades: Leandro OderoMarina Menendez, Juan Manuel Macarlupu PeñaAdriana Iris y Julieta Olivero.

Powwow en Gualeguaychu: “Día de verano junto al río”

¡Nos vemos en el próximo powwow!


Más imágenes de powwows en Argentina »

Próximos powwows alrededor del mundo »

 

Desayunando con ProZ.com: café, estrategias y secretos de la profesión Reply

A mediados de agosto de 2015, el equipo de ProZ.com en Argentina propuso una iniciativa llamada DesayunoZ y abrió sus puertas por primera vez para recibir a estudiantes y traductores noveles en su cocina y compartir café con estrategias de marketing, secretos para establecer tarifas, facturar y cobrar, y alguna que otra sugerencia para evitar los riesgos típicos de la profesión, entre otras especialidades sobre la mesa.

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Cocina de ProZ.com  – La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tras un exitoso desayuno-charla de casi cuatro horas –al que además se sumó una competencia de sapo– y la evidente necesitad de información clave para tener éxito como profesionales, se decidió que este desayuno sería el primero, ¡pero no el último!

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Competencia de sapo

Este es un breve resumen de los DesayunoZ que hemos compartido hasta el momento:

Gracias a todos los DesayunadoreZ que han pasado por la casa de ProZ.com en Argentina este 2015:

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Agosto

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Septiembre

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Octubre

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Noviembre

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Diciembre

Espero que en 2016 nos visiten aún más DesayunadoreZ en Argentina, en nuestras otras casas y en cualquier lugar del mundo donde haya café y deseos de aprender, conectarse con colegas y compartir un buen momento.

¡Hasta próximos DesayunoZ!

LL


Aprendé más sobre los DesayunoZ de ProZ.com →

¿Querés organizar DesayunoZ en tu ciudad? Enviá un correo electrónico a lucia@proz.com.

‘Giving Tuesday’ year-end donation drive: thank you all who donated! Reply

FBBoostFrom December 1st until December 3rd, ProZ.com, Dutch translator and copywriter Pieter Beens and the rest of the ProZ.com community joined forces in a ‘Giving Tuesday’ year-end donation drive and collected over $1,800 USD to be donated to Books For Africa, Concern Worldwide and SOS Children’s Villages. In turn, ProZ.com matched dollar for dollar the collected amount and over $3,600 USD will now benefit these three non-profit organizations.

Funds were collected through ProZ.com membership sales, training purchases, as well as from direct donations, and the translator community also shared their translated version of a very famous quote by Mother Teresa:

MotherTeresa

Click here to see translated versions or suggest your own.

Special thanks go to…

  • Pieter Beens for proposing this initiative and spreading the word.
  • ProZ.com professional trainers Claudia BrauerAnneta VysotskayaKonstantin Kisin and Samuel Sebastian Holden Bramah for donating their time and knowledge.
  • ProZ.com users and members who donated through membership and training, or by making a direct donation.
  • ProZ.com users and members who proposed their translation of Mother Teresa’s quote.
  • Everyone who helped to spread the word!

Thank you all who joined ProZ.com’s 2015 celebration of Giving Tuesday!


How did you celebrate Giving Tuesday? Share below.

Guest post: The importance of translators for charities 2

This is a guest post by Pieter Beens in promotion of ProZ.com’s ‘Giving Tuesday’ year-end donation drive. To find out more about this initiative and learn how to contribute, visit the drive’s main page: http://www.proz.com/pages/drive


#GivingTuesday is an international phenomenon to raise funds for a host of charities. In the spirit of this event, ProZ.com is hosting the #ProZcomDrive, a special campaign to raise funds for three non-profit organizations: SOS Children’s Villages, Concern Worldwide, and Books For Africa. All proceeds from the ProZ.com ‘Giving Tuesday’ year-end donation drive will benefit these programs to help families in need, raise funds for emergency response programs, and support literacy initiatives.

Although fundraising within the translation community is a major aspect of the campaign, there is much more to say about the importance of translators for charities. In this article I will mention a few.

Translators often do not associate themselves with charities professionally. Of course many of us are involved in volunteer jobs, varying from caregiving to supporting political parties, but there are few translators and translation agencies that continuously support charities for free.

That is nothing to blame translators and agencies for: supporting charities is not the most obvious choice when it comes to sponsoring or even to corporate sustainable development. At the same time many charities do not ask translators and agencies to help them out with translations for free. One initiative to connect charities and translators for free translations is Translators Without Borders.

Translators can play an important role for charities. First of all, they can offer free translations (also outside Translators Without Borders), so charities can do their lovely jobs and reach their goals with a minimum of resources. However, free translations should not be the main objective for charities when collaborating with translators. Indeed, translators can offer much more than just financial help.

Language professionals, and in particular native translators who live in the countries where charities are active, have actual knowledge of the country and culture of the language in which they translate. They can be the “eyes and ears” of the charities they work for, and know how these organizations can be most successful in reaching their goals. At the same time, they can inform charities about local developments, and even point out new goals and locations where their efforts are needed.

Translators can also contribute their commercial knowledge to these organizations to help them better deliver on their mission. For example, they can share best practices in reaching out to the public or in translating different types of texts. They can help educate charities as to how they can be successful in motivating volunteers or raising funds. Translators can also apply their knowledge from particular areas of specialization, like healthcare or technology, in translating texts for non-profit organizations as well.

A final important role of translators in the non-profit sector is the role of networker. Charities often do not know where to find the right translators for a particular language or where to go in a certain country to get help, subsidies or support. Language professionals can guide them to local authorities or centers that can help the charities to realize their goals.

The #ProZcomDrive

All proceeds donated by the translation community from December 1st to December 3rd as part of ProZ.com’s ‘Giving Tuesday’ year-end donation drive will benefit SOS Children’s Villages, Concern Worldwide, and Books For Africa. In turn, Pieter Beens is also donating 10% of his income for the entire month of December to a fourth initiative: Project Jedidja, a project to fight illiteracy and discrimination among disabled children in Guinea Bissau.

Learn more about Project Jedidja here: http://veldwerkers.kimon.nl/jedidja


Are you considering donating translations to charities? Read Pieter Beens’ tips at http://www.vertaalt.nu/blog/tips-for-translators-when-supporting-charities/