Finding the right translator can be tough, I get that. But it’s no different from finding the right doctor, dentist, lawyer, or any other professional service provider. Yet, when approaching a translator, clients will often say things they probably would never say to any other professional. This is the top five on my list of things no translator wants to hear, and the gist of my most polite replies.
I would translate it myself, but I simply don’t have the time.
I am sure you have excellent language skills and a great command of the target language; however, you are not a qualified translator and (every time I’ve heard this one) not a native speaker of the target language either. Doing it yourself can be a fun challenge on a personal level, but it can also mean business or professional suicide. A translator’s skills go far beyond command of the target language. Your translator helps you deal with cultural nuances and barriers. If you’ve picked your translator well, then he or she is probably also a field expert that can advise you on how to optimize your message and effectively communicate with your target audience. Do yourself a favor, hire a translator, even if you feel you could translate it yourself. Translation is a sound investment that will result in better business.
It doesn’t have to be perfect; I just need to get the gist of the text.
Respectable translators don’t have “quality levels.” We give each job 100% of our resources, capacity and dedication. When you pay us to translate something, it’s impossible for us to turn off our magic. Asking us to deliver “just the gist” is like asking your doctor to alleviate your headache, but not the rest of your flu symptoms. It simply cannot be done.
Why don’t you give bulk discounts?
Translation is not a commodity good. Translators cannot increase our profit margin by purchasing prime goods in bulk and increasing our daily output at lower costs. Translation is an intellectual service. More words mean more work. In addition, the longer the document, the more time your translator will allot to your text; therefore, the higher your translator’s opportunity cost for working for you. It is only fair to reflect that in our fees, the way it is reflected in all other specialty service fees. You wouldn’t ask your dentist for a bulk discount on fillings, would you? Or your lawyer for a bulk discount on multiple law suits?
Why are you asking me for royalties if I wrote the original content? And why should your name appear on my book?
You wrote the original content in the source language, but under most copyright laws (in most countries) translation constitutes derivative work. The derivative work is a separate, independent work. Therefore, authors of derivative work are entitled to the full protection of copyright, without prejudice to your rights as the original author. If the translated version sells well, chances are that had a little something to do with my translation. Therefore, it is only fair that I should be compensated appropriately and that my work be recognized accordingly.
Other translators quoted half your price, but I’d rather work with you if you’d just lower your fees.
Thank you for your interest in working with me. I know choosing a translator can be challenging and a bit overwhelming at times, and I’m glad that out of all the great professionals out there, you’ve taken an interest in me. However, specialized, high-quality service comes with a cost in any professional field. My fees are a reflection of my experience and background and the time and dedication I will devote to your document. You’ve already invested significant resources into your document because it’s important to your business. Getting it just as right in your target language merits the same level commitment, and that’s something my fees help guarantee.