Jul 24, 2010

Alex Eames saves a life

Alex saved a fox tonight; I was so engrossed in reading a draft of the new version of his advice book for translators that I didn't see Meister Reinecke until he had finished off the tasty stink bait and was headed for the bushes to get out of the rain. Taking a netbook to the raised blind isn't conducive to hunting success it would seem.

The new themes of the book are found to some extent in the material of his recently revived tranfree newsletter, but there was a lot of other useful new content as well as interesting online media statistics. Although I suppose I could almost be counted as an "old pro" by now (well, "old" at least), I finished the book with a nice little to-do list of changes I need to make in my business marketing. Like earlier versions of his book, this one doesn't make any enormously surprising points if you are blessed with a little basic common sense, but it offers a nice, digestible summary and reminder list that can help brush the dust off the glasses of "old pros" whose vision of the profession has gotten a bit obscured. And the book is as useful as ever for those starting out in the profession. An earlier version was probably the best general advice I received on getting started and was worth in practice about two orders of magnitude more than I paid for it.

There are so many good points in the book that caused me to make a note to myself that I wanted to write a blog post on the subject. Simple, powerful stuff like the discussion of client acquisition costs and the high value of repeat business. Sure, it's "obvious". But how well have some of us learned that lesson if we are still inclined to turn the cannons on customers in difficult situations which, if handled with a bit of grace and intelligence, could be used as opportunities to reinforce one's professional reputation and increase customer loyalty? I've earned a few demerits there this year as I've dealt with reorganization stresses and other issues, and reading Alex's clear exposition on the subject was a fine and necessary mental Kur in a very real sense. The discussion of translator CVs (résumés) is another point which is discussed often, but the guidance of his clear examples will be a great help to many I think. It also reminded me that I need to trim half a dozen pages or so from mine... something I have been aware of and intended to do for a decade now as soon as things slow down a bit :-)

No idea when this year the book is scheduled for release, and some important additions and revisions of the content are apparently still under consideration. But the structure of what I've seen and the updates to the content make this book as relevant to survival as a freelance translator in today's market as the original editions were when I started translating full time. The markets for translation are indeed changing in some interesting ways now, and I think that this new edition of the book will be a valuable mixture of timeless good advice and strategies for staying of top of a rapidly evolving global situation that affects many translators. If you aren't already a tranfree subscriber, I recommend signing up for the free newsletter so you won't miss the release announcement later this year.


  1. If the subject of my blog post today is any indication there seem to be quite a few people who do not have the basic common sense of which you speak, so this book will most likely be invaluable to them.

  2. Do you mean "Caution is good, trust is better", Jill? The translator described sounds like a real troglodyte. Alex actually covers this point rather well in his discussion of job sheets as contracts, but the way I understood that section the main point was to avoid misunderstandings, not avoid getting ripped of by a Evil Unscrupulous Client Plotting Non-payment. I liked that section, because too often important details are overlooked by both parties and those job sheets are nice checklists.

    That online translation management software from lsp.net that I use and support works in a similar way to encourage transparency by asking for or providing details in an organized manner (in the quote request form and various confirmation letter, the quote, etc.) so that the agreement is clear to everyone. If someone wants to be politely paranoid and do as Alex suggests or do the electronic equivalent in OTM, I'm all for it, because it leads to a clear understanding of the commitments on all sides and avoids trouble.

    What your troglodyte did - simply ignoring the project - was awful and rude. "I don't trust your agency!" If that isn't the start of a "beautiful" relationship, what is? Not everyone is DdN, thank God.


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