If you get to the top of a translator’s favourite-clients list, you will get priority in times of emergency and they will go two extra miles for you. So how do you become the translator’s pet?
Translation and quality take time and we may have other large projects on, so the earlier you send us your document, the better the chance that we can fit you in. If you know it will be ready late, it’s a good idea to check our availability early to avoid disappointment – this implies that you must be punctual, too: cancellations and postponed projects may incur a charge if we have to turn work down.
Of course, we will forgive you and be as accommodating as possible if you have an emergency once in a while, but if you regularly give us generous deadlines, you will climb up the list.
Prepare your text
Clear writing, good punctuation, well-chosen words, no ambiguity… That’s music to a translator’s ears! You wouldn’t believe how confused we get over a misplaced comma or a missing hyphen. If that sounds crazy to you, it drives us crazy. You don’t want to be pestered with what-did-you-mean-here questions – it’s tedious and time-consuming for both of us – but if we misunderstand your text, we risk mistranslating it. Therefore, the person in charge of writing your text should ideally have strong writing skills. In some cases, and depending on the purpose of your text, it may be worth considering hiring a copy-writer.
It also helps if your document is in a format that is easy enough for us to work on, so PDFs are to be avoided whenever possible – or expect to be charged extra for the time this will take. PowerPoint and Excel are manageable, but you get bonus points if you can send your files in Word every time.
Tell us more
We’re usually pretty good at languages but not necessarily quite so good at telepathy. So the clearer the information and the more complete the instructions, the smoother, quicker and more efficient the process. Do tell us who your audience is (staff, clients, partners…), the impression you wish to make and style you want to adopt (this will hopefully be clear from the text, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it if you have a specific goal in mind), aspects of your business philosophy that should transpire through the text (again, this could be obvious from the text), etc. Do you have any other material or references that may help, specific terminology and glossaries that we should use or any previous translation (both the original and the translated version, please) to check for consistency? What is obvious to an insider may be a complete mystery to the translator, so it’s worth checking that we are on the same wavelength as you.
Pay on time
Translators have a soft spot for clients who pay on time without any prompting. As sole traders, we don’t have huge margins and consequently cannot afford to wait until your suppliers have paid you – and that, by the way, is between you and your suppliers. If you seem to have cash flow problems, we may not risk working with you again. So it is worth letting your accounts payable know that your favourite translator needs to be paid on time. Besides, we strive to deliver the work to you on time, so it seems fair to expect the favour to be returned.
No one likes to chase for payment and no one likes to be chased either. This is unpleasant for everybody, weakens our trust in you, is a waste of everyone’s time and you don’t want us on your back to remind you to do your part of the deal. Be punctual and you’ll get a virtual gold medal for it.
In short: Send well-written documents in Word, with a quick brief on the purpose of the text where necessary, give reasonable deadlines, pay on time, and we will love you forever…