How to be your translator’s favourite client

It is almost a bit of a cliché in the translation industry, but it’s true: really good translators are like gold dust! And because they’re so rare they can often pick and choose their clients.

Once you’ve been lucky enough to find one of these elusive creatures, you want to hold on to them and make sure you’re right up there on top of their list of favourite clients. So, here are some tips on how to enjoy a long and happy relationship with your translator:

  1. Be friendly. Yes, it sounds obvious, but it’s number one in this list for good reason. (Remember, really good translators can choose whom they want to work with…!)
  2. Don’t expect miracles. Indicate a realistic timeframe for completion of the job, preferably phrased as a question (e.g. “could you do this by…?”). “Asap” deadlines, by the way, are generally not very helpful…
  3. Plan ahead. If you know there is a large translation job coming up, give your translator some advance warning, so they can schedule it in and make sure they’re available when you need them.
  4. If at all possible, send your translator the final version of the document to be translated. Further edits to the source text are fiddly to incorporate once the translation has been started on – and may incur additional costs.
  5. Provide as much background and context as possible. A good translator takes into account the intended purpose and target readership of a translation. It is essential to know which market the translated text is aimed at – in particular with translations into English. For example, it helps to know if the text is to be written with a UK or US audience in mind, or a global audience for whom English may be their second language.
  6. Give feedback. Good translators welcome feedback (it helps them to keep getting better). Let your translator know what you thought of their work, including any terminology or style issues.

All these tips are based on the working relationships I enjoy with my own favourite clients…