Nov 17, 2009

A good book revisited

The flu is not one of my favorite experiences. Whether the illness that felled me last week, screwed up the quality of my work and kept me in bed unable to do any work for a few days was the swine flu I cannot say, but it left me feeling like an old, roasted pig. Being on my back for a while did have one good side, however: I could finally get around to reading the hardcopy version of a very interesting book for international freelance translators.

A year ago I published a short review on this blog of Oleg Rudavin's Internet Freelancing: Practical Guide for Translators. The original review was based on two incomplete preview chapters from the Translator's Training site. Now that I've read the whole thing in preparation for writing a review I promised to do for the BDÜ, I can repeat my earlier recommendation without qualification. Sure, the English is quirky in places and makes me smile, but big deal - I would be a dishonest fool to ignore the fact that this is a clearly expressed overview of a huge number - dare I say most? - of the issues that face freelance translators on the international markets today. Best of all, it's written by a fellow faced with brutal competition in a language pair often noted for its cut-throat pricing. Mr. Rudavin does well I think, but he doesn't live in the German-English Land of Milk and Honey, so he survives and thrives by his wits and learning from experience.

As I mentioned in my last review, I love the first-person narrative of this book. Examples given are based on real experience, and some of that experience is pretty damned embarrassing. This gives the book as a whole a lot more credibility. A wide range of issues, including all-important matters of rates and reality as well as the complications of international banking are discussed. For those outside the US and Western Europe, this may be thought of as a critical business survival guide for Internet freelancing. For those like me inside the walls of Western Europe, it's a real eye-opener to see what a colleague in another country sometimes has to put up with just to accept a payment. Useful to know if I plan international cooperations or activity as a new agency.

Reading this book, I have the feeling that Oleg spent the week as my personal advisor, helping me to review my business and find ways of restructuring it in a more effective way. (And coincidentally, that's what I'm doing.) The advice in this book - the lessons to be gained from "listening" to his narrative - is worth a lot more than the cover price. If I stated the multiple I believe applies, I'm sure I'd just start a useless argument, but I'd laugh my way to a better business while arguing. Let's just say it's a fun and worthwhile reference book that has something of value for most freelancers, from rank beginners without a clue to old hands. You won't find every answer there, but you'll surely find more than you expect.


  1. What a wonderful review, Kevin, and such a tribute to the book. It makes me want to read it, and thanks to you I won't need a touch of swine flu, or any other flu for that matter, to find the time to do so.
    Many thanks!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation Kevin. This one will be snuggling up to Thomas Pynchon's new work in my Santa sack.

  3. If an old curmudgeon like you (intended with the greatest of respect, natch) recommends it, it must be good! No sooner read than ordered.

  4. If any of you have the opportunity to meet the author at a conference, I recommend that you do so. He's a very interesting fellow whose experience as a translator goes far beyond mine. He had many years of experience before he got involved with international business through the Internet, and his unusual experience could be very important for people living in parts of the world that experience economic turmoil (like there's any part that doesn't these days). Personal stories like his coupled with clear analysis and well thought-out recommendations are pure gold for beginners and experienced translators alike.


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