I've been an avid reader since I knew how to read. So when I started my translation business as a freelancer, I was so looking forward to start working on literary translation that I almost gave everything up when no such work came to me... And that's when I heard about babelcube.
Babelcube is a platform where authors post the books they would like to have translated, and translators offer to tranlate them into different languages.
I immediately opened up an account and made a few offers on several books that I thought I could enjoy reading and working on.
I already have four books translated there and start to see the ups and downs of working via this platform.
You get paid in royalties, which means that if the book doesn't sell, you'll have worked for months for nothing. But how to know if a book is going to sell or not? Let me tell you, you can't. A book can have really good sales and reviews in one language, and not work so well in another one. The best is to look at online local libraries to see which category of books sells the best, and then make offers according to what you discovered during your reserach. But you'll still have no way to predict if you'll get paid a proper amount for your work. It's more or less like a lotery ticket.
You have to work on the promotion of the book (this is part of the royalty payment process - if you want to sell, you have to promote). Given the fact that the author of the book doesn"t speal your language, it will be up to you to put your book out there. Look for bloggers, send mails, ask for reviews, create social network pages for your books, and be active on them as well. This is a huge amount of work.
Also, literary translators usually work via publishers, just like authors do, and those review the book, revise it, edit it, proofread it, and so on, untill your work is the best it could be. Well, babelcube doesn't do that. Once you upload your final translation and the author accepts it, the book gets published. No first readers to tell you what changes should be made. So Babelcube can either make you or break you. After getting several bad reviews on those book selling platforms, I decided to start working in collaboration with a proofreader. And if ou want to give babelcube a chance, I strongly recommend you do the same.
Mostly, the ups are that you can do something you love, and easily find clients. I have made five offers to transtale books from English to French on Babelcube, and signed for four of those books.
There are also authors who prefer to publish their books without using babelcube, and once you already translated a book for them, and they were happy with your work, you can gain regular clients and agree on payment terms with them. This happened to me with one author so far.
Babelcube is a very good way to get your name out there for your literary translation services, but as I said earlier, be careful, because it can Make you or Break you. Make sure the final translation you upload is near perfect, if not perfect. (could it be without an editor going through it?)
I already told you about the downside of going freelance. Let's now take a look at the brighter side of a freelancer.
First of all, you can manage your time as you like. If you need to go see a doctor, or you have a friend in town for the day, you just take some time off. And when you have kids, the ability to manage your work time according to their needs is really precious. Did you ever have a boss who let you have your kids with you at work and work only when they didn't need you to go pee, play, build cabins under your desk? Well, I never did. So I'm really grateful that I could stay at home with my boy and still bring money to the household and do the work I so love. It takes some time to get into some kind of productive routine, but once you find yours, it's great. I for myself work in the morning, when my husband is already at work and my son still sleeping. Then, after lunch, when he's back in bed for a nap, usually letting me work for at least two hours (yes, I know...lucky me I made a big sleeper) and in the evening. That's my daily routine, but then sometimes, he prefers to play all alone in his room which leaves me even more time to work.
The second really great thing about being a freelancer is that you are your own boss. You get rewarded for your work and see your business grow. Of course, like I already told you, it takes some time to get used to, but in the end, it's really rewarding to see exactly how each contract you fulfill roots your work a little deeper. In the beginning, I Kind of used to see the clients as my bosses, but with time, I realized that is not what they are, and now, I see them more like collaborators. You work with your clients on creating something new. Not for them. The final translation you deliver is a brand new product or even piece of art.
Last but not least, going freelance widens your horizons. When I worked as an inhouse translator, the documents I had to work on where always similar one to the other, but since I started working as a freelance translator, I got the opportunity to work in various fields going from commercial to literary through legal, medical and many many more. When looking for how to set up your business as a translator, you'll probably run into specialized translators. I have one advice for you. Do not specialize too early. You might miss something you'd be really good at and that you'd really enjoy. Do not close any doors before even looking at what's hidden behind them. Step by step, your specialization will come to you on its own and if not, you should know that a specialization is not necessary. You can work on several different subjects and still be very good at your job.
This being said, I hope you'll enjoy your trip in freelance adventure land as much as I do.
Good luck to all of you!
When you tell people you are a freelancer, most of them say things like "Oh you're so lucky, you can get as much free time as you want.", "Yeah, you mean you're a stay at home mom/housewive.", "You don't work, how come you didn't get time to clean the house/cook/go grocery shopping?"
Well most people are wrong. Most people wake up in the morning, go to work, leave work, and then they're free. Most of them work their 35 hours a week (in France), and then they have weekends and holidays and leave their phones and computers at home when they go on vacation.
That's not how it goes for freelancers. At least not in the beginning.
At the beginning you struggle to get clients, so you spend your days behind your screen (weekends included) looking for work opportunities. In time, clients will start coming to you, but first, you have to get your name out there and you can't afford to decline a job, so no matter what day it is, no matter how late it is in the day, no matter when the client you managed to find needs his translation, you accept it and do it, even if you have to work all night long, on a saturday or a sunday. Just hold on, don't give up, it will pass with time, seriously.
Another thing I had to put up with, was potential clients offering to pay me such low rates that it wasn't even worth all the hard work. DO NOT accept those, no matter how desperate you are. First of all, your work really isn't worth it, you have set your rates, and might be willing to lower them a bit now and then if you get a really interesting project, but don't let clients steal from you. And second, there are other translators out there, your colleagues, that might not like it much if you steal clients from them by translating their documents for nothing, and the day you'll need any help from any of them, them might very likely not give it to you. You might think that translators see other translators as competition, that's how I felt in the beginning, but I pretty fast realized just how wrong I was, and consider all translators as my colleagues now. They are always willing to help and might need your help in return one day.
Last but not least, your social life (I'm not talking about social networks here) might get pretty slow. For the same reasons that you don't get weekends or holidays. You are stuck behind your computer, just not to miss the perfect job opportunity.
I know I drew a pretty bad picture of the freeance translator's life here, but there are advantages too...I'll come to those later. I first had to warn you that all is not popsicles and pet shops in a freelancer's life.
Hi to all students!
End of semester is coming fast, and with all the hard work you'll have to deliver writing your essays, and mugging up on your classes for your exams, I'd like to offer one of you a correction or a rebate on a correction!
- Your document has to be in French.
- It has to be no longer than 4000 words for a free correction. If it is longer, you'll get a 20% rebate.
- Share the link to the contest (below) and comment with your name (DO NOT forget to comment this post on the blog, I won't be able to find you if you don't)
- The draw will take place on November 30th 2015 at 7pm.
- The winner will be announced on the post.
Good luck to all of you!
One of the major questions I asked myself when I started as a freelance translator was: how much should charge for a translation?
I started by doing some research, I contacted other translators, went through their websites, but the rates went from really cheap to really expensive. At least I got a scale of prices to start with. And then I looked at the whole price issue from a different angle...my own. I stopped thinking as a client (wow that's cheap! No way, out of my budget!) and started thinking as a professional offering a service.
So with a (pretty big) piece of paper and my pen, I wrote down a list of all the things I have to pay for each month...the bills, my rent, food, a little extra for hobbies and leisure times as well as how much I'd like to add to my savings each month for presents and my future. Once I got a total, I added the percentage that would go to our dear government, the taxes and social contributions.
You end up with a number that shows how much you need to be earning each month to live. But as a translator, you don't ask your clients for monthly fees, you charge them for the work they need you to do, no more, no less, it's not their problem if you take a month to translate something that should have taken you a day or two. So next step was to find out how much I can translate, revise and proofread in a month. I didn't translate all month to get there, I just translated for an hour and then with a simple math magic (words translated in an hour x hours I spend translating a month*) I found out how many words I can translate in one month. I did the same with revising and proofreading.
All I had left to do, was another math trick (How much I need to earn each month / Words I can translate/revise/proofread in a month) and there I had my rates per source word.
Then I simply checked I was in the price range I discovered during my research, and that was it.
*THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
As a freelance translator, you don't spend all your working time translating, revising, and proofreading. There's also a lot of time you spent looking for new clients, taking care of your website and social media pages, and many many other things. So when calculating how many words a month you can translate, do not forget that you won't spend all your working hours translating.
Second thing, when you work on short documents, it doesn't make much difference, but once you get to longer ones, it can make a big one! Do not forget that in a translation service, revision and proofreading are included. You have to include that in your price as well, otherwise you will be working pro bono when revising and proofreading your translation. And do not think these steps unnecessary. It happens to the best of us to skip a sentence a paragraph or worse, to leave a typo or to misspell a word. Theses steps will allow you to correct most of those!
If you have questions or if you'd like some help setting up your prices, do not hesitate! I'll come back to you ASAP!
Those of you who knew my previous website might be wondering why all these changes. Why has Czech completely dissapeared from it? Why is the new website so much lighter? Why does the website directly open in English when it used to open in French?
Let me explain.
After more than a year as a freelance translator, I have seen enough of the translation market to begin to understand what the needs out there are as well as what I feel most comfortable with.
Czech, even though it is one of my mother tongues, is not the language I was most comfortable translating into, and wasn't the most asked for either, at least not by the people I have worked with, that is why I decided to let other translators keep this market and took it completely off.
On the previous website, I wrote lenghty texts to explain everything, which was cool for people interested in it, but not so cool for people who needed to get an information fast. With the new website, people get the most important information right away, and for those who want to know more, there's the blog!
Last but not least, French being my mother tongue, I aim to reach English speaking people to translate their books or documents into French, that is why the new website opens in English first and needs to be changed to French. Although I'm pretty comfortable translating into English as well, I had to make a choice, and this was, in my opinion, the best one.
I hope this helped you understand, and don't hesitate if you have other questions, I'll be happy to answer them.
Hi everyone, and welcome to TRANSLATE MY WOR(L)D's blog!
I've been working as a freelance translator for over a year now, (after ten years as an in house translator) and thought I had a website, I felt like there was something missing, a place where I could really interact with clients, potential clients, other translators, well just about everybody.
We freelance translators spend a lot of time behind our screens and hardly ever meet our clients as in our era everything goes just so fast with the internet.
I tried to think about how I would feel, sending my work or documents to somebody I don't even know, to let him work on them, study them, tear them apart, reassemble them...and I must say, I wouldn't be too willing...
That is the first reason as to why I decided to create this blog. I want my clients and potential clients to get to know me better and to better understand how I work.
The other major reason being exchanging with other translators, and giving advice to those who'd like to join in on the adventure of professional translation as a freelance translator. I've been through all this and you can't even begin to imagine the questions that were running through my head at that time. How much should I charge for a translation? Where should I start looking for new clients? How should I set up a contract? Do I use paypal or bank transfers? Do I ask to be paid upfront or what?... and so much more.
So I hope each of you will be able to get something from this blog, and don't hesitate to comment, give your opinion, asks questions, and share!