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Well, hopefully, if you’re looking for an Italian translator, you already found one here 🙂 However, just in case you were looking for a translator in another language (or [sob] another Italian translator), in this post you will find some tips.

Note that, in the past, I already published several posts about how to avoid scammers, how much you should pay for a translation, and so on. This post is about how to find a freelancer that suits your need. To my knowledge, there are three common ways of doing so: asking your author friends, checking out some websites, or contacting an agency. All of them have upsides and downsides.

Word of mouth

This is perhaps the most common way authors find me: when asked for it, a satisfied client recommends a translator – with whom they worked – to their friends. This way of finding a freelancer to work with has several upsides: the only thing you have to do is ask your author friends if they know a good translator, and since they already worked with the person in question, their firsthand experience will be invaluable.

There’s also a downside: sadly, not every author can judge a translator properly. A lot of people have commissioned (and paid for, and published) bad translations without realizing it. Not every reader leaves reviews, and a bad – or just sub-par – translator can keep working unnoticed for quite a long wile. If possible, ask your author friends if they have any confirmation about the translator’s skills (such as positive comments in the reviews, or at least a lack of negative comments about the quality of the translation).

Window shopping

Another way you can find a translator is search for “[language] book translations” or something similar on your favorite search engine and look at the various web pages that will appear. A serious professional will have most or all of the following on their website:

  • a detailed explanation of what they do (ie. “I translate all sorts of novels”, “I specialize in historical romance”, “I have experience with fiction and non-fiction alike”)
  • clear and up-to-date rates (people who encourage you to inquire about costs tend to be quite expensive, perhaps even excessively so)
  • a list of satisfied clients
  • a list of the books they translated
  • any relevant personal information (studies, languages spoken natively, etc.)

Empty websites are suspicious, as are poor grammar and long, self-praising blocks of text that actually give you no information at all.

The upside of window shopping is that, well, it can be fun. It also allows you to see for yourself what you may be buying. The downside is that all the information come through an interested party (the translator), so it may not be 100% accurate.

Translation agencies

There are a lot of translation agencies out there, many of which will be able to translate any book you want (although it seems that a lot of them focus more, or even exclusively, on non-fiction). Serious ones will have a professional website and a person  (usually an account manager) whom you’ll be able to contact if you have any questions. The upside of working with an agency is that many of them are quire serious about their reputations, and will pursue high quality standards. The downside… well, a translation agency is, essentially, a middleman. They will slap their own mark-up on whatever the translator gets, which may increase the cost quite a bit… and if it doesn’t, they are probably paying a low wage to their translator, which usually doesn’t guarantee good quality.

 

Which method do I recommend? In my experience, word of mouth is usually a good start, followed by a quick search to see if the translator has gotten good reviews and/or seems legit. If you don’t know any author who could recommend you a translator, you’re left with the option between window shopping or looking for an agency. The one you choose generally depends on your budget and on the kind of relationship you want with your translator: agencies tend to be more expensive and impersonal, while individual freelancers are usually cheaper, and working with them creates a more personal relationship. The choice is up to you.

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