Many writers who are looking for a translator worry (and rightly so!) about how their book will be treated. I can’t speak for anyone else, but here’s the way I work.
I start with a draft (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). I read the book and translate it as I go. I’m not looking for the perfect translation, yet; I just want to get everything on paper. This early translation is still done with lots of attention – words are chosen and sentences are structured following specific criteria. I would never send a manuscript at this stage to the author, but that doesn’t mean it’s not being translated properly.
As I’m working on the first draft, I write down a reference sheet. On that page I put all the recurring terms (including names), their current translation and all the previous versions. A line in the reference sheet might look like this:
“Bearer” would be the original word (say, of a mythical figure). “Portatore” would be the first translation I had chosen. “Araldo” would be the translation that I now find more appropriate, perhaps because I found the word used in a similar context and it lit a spark.
The reference sheet allows me to be sure that, say, “Bearer” isn’t translated one way on page 12 and the other way on page 97 (I have seen it in published books). It also makes revisions way easier, as I know exactly what to search and replace.
After I finish the first draft, I let the translation rest for a few days. Then I go through it and revise it. This time, I’m working to improve what’s already there. I make sure that the text is both faithful to the original and good to read. Sometimes, this means changing entire paragraphs that I previously wrote; other times, it’s just minor adjustments. At this stage, i also correct all the typos I can find.
The draft then goes to the proofreader. She is wonderful at her job. When I get the manuscript back, it’s usually twice as good as it was before her revision. I look through all the proofreader’s notes and corrections, making sure that each and every change I make improves the translation in some way. I know that many people simply click on the “Accept All Revisions” buttons at this point, but I find that kind of lazy. I’d rather be sure that everything in the manuscript is there because I decided it belonged there.
Finally, I do one last revision. This time, I do strive for perfection. The book has to be great. It has to read like a book originally written in Italian, not a translation. If the original language can still be identified (perhaps because of sentence structure or idiomatic expressions), I have done a bad job. It’s like having a book printed on paper so thin you can see through the pages: it might be the best book ever writer, but the product as a whole isn’t good.
After the final editing, the translation is sent to you, the author. My job is done.
To sum it up: every translation I make goes through three revisions, one of which is made by a third person. This ensures the greatest quality. It does slow the process down a bit, but I prefer to give the author a good translation than a fast, mediocre one.