How to specialize
Thread poster: xxxVanussa
Oct 17, 2006

Dear colleagues,
I have been working as a translator for one year now. I have been translating a bit of everything, the only thing I don’t do is business/financial translations, apart from that I do public services translations, health, law, personal correspondence, CVs, birth/marriage certificates, you name it…
It’s ok to gain experience and make some money but now I would like to specialize.
I have a BA in Languages and a MA in Hispanic Studies. I also did the Diploma in Translation English>Portuguese.
I would love to translate mainly;
- Children’s books (I work in a primary school part-time and love children)
- History books/essays (Spain/Portugal/Latin America) – I did a MA in Hispanic Studies
- Cooking books – I love food
- Tourism books – I love travelling
- Subtitling translation – I have enrolled for a course
- Documents on human rights (e.g. situation in Burma/ Tibet/ Western Sahara, etc.)

How could I specialize in these fields? Who (which agencies) should I approach?
Do you think I could actually make a living out of it? Do you think the agencies would give me jobs in these areas even though I haven’t got much experience?
Thanking you in advance.
Vanussa


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 14:10
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
subtitling Oct 17, 2006

You seem to want to specialize in rather different fields, but hey, thats only my first impression.:)

Anyway, I can comment on the subtitling part. This is a rather closed field indeed (some even say - for the chosen ones), but it definitely is not impossible to get through that door. Id say you have to do a little research on companies in the subtitling business and then simply contact them. I might suggest you at least one however one cant post any names in here.

As for contacting them, some unofficial approach could work - instead of sending your CV try simply sending an inquiry email marketing yourself a bit and telling how you're dieing to work in the field.;) I can assure you from my own experience that does work at times better than a CV. They need to see your enthusiasm.

Its all a game of luck, no doubt. The main thing is to get your foot in the door or at least to get them unlock the lock.:)

Good luck!

Stella


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:10
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Publishing houses and NGOs Oct 17, 2006

Vanussa wrote:
I would love to translate mainly;
- Children’s books (I work in a primary school part-time and love children)
- History books/essays (Spain/Portugal/Latin America) – I did a MA in Hispanic Studies
- Cooking books – I love food
- Tourism books – I love travelling
- Subtitling translation – I have enrolled for a course
- Documents on human rights (e.g. situation in Burma/ Tibet/ Western Sahara, etc.)


Hi Vanussa,

Looks like you should probably try to get in touch with publishing houses that specialize in children's books, history, tourism and cooking. Maybe you can go to a book fair and introduce yourself to those publishers that are of interest to you. Or search for them on the internet and contact them directly.

As for human rights translations, I guess this might be something you could do on a volunteer basis. Get in touch with Amnesty, ICRC, etc. and see if they need your service. There might not be much paid work in this field.

Good luck,
Stefanie


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:10
Italian to English
Interest is only the first step Oct 17, 2006

Hi Vanussa.

1) Specialisation is the right way to go.
2) You are more likely to do well in sectors that interest you.
3) No one wants to know whether you are interested in the sector; only whether you can deliver publication-ready text.

Vanussa wrote:
I would love to translate mainly;
- Children’s books (I work in a primary school part-time and love children)


But have you ever written a children's story in your target language? Did anyone think it was worth publishing? Why not try (it would be a really great calling card)?


- History books/essays (Spain/Portugal/Latin America) – I did a MA in Hispanic Studies


Why not get a Portuguese historian to read one of your translations and tell you how good/bad it is?


- Cooking books – I love food


So do most people but can you write about it?


- Tourism books – I love travelling


That doesn't mean people will pay you to travel or translate other people's travel writing. You have to show you can write about travel yourself.


How could I specialize in these fields? Who (which agencies) should I approach?


I do mainly food and wine translations. My customers are almost all direct and I only work for agencies who are prepared to pay my rates. This means that I don't usually bid for jobs: people ask me to quote.

It takes time and patience (plus a fair bit of work for decent agencies) to reach this stage but you can do it if you know where you want to go. There are all sorts of ways to get yourself noticed: original published writing in the field is the best, but there are plenty of others.

Keep up to date with your fields and keep trying. Remember that you will always be judged by your last job, so make sure that it is also your best.


Do you think I could actually make a living out of it? Do you think the agencies would give me jobs in these areas even though I haven’t got much experience?
Thanking you in advance.
Vanussa


I can only tell you that food and wine is a very lively sector and there is plenty of cash up for grabs. But don't rely on books for a living, even though the rates are often very attractive. Publishing schedules are fairly elastic and books may be postponed or cancelled for any number of reasons. In real life, work from producers or periodicals tends to be more conducive to a regular income.

HTH

Giles
PS
You're asking the right questions. I hope you find the right answers


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 13:10
Italian to English
+ ...
Read, Write, and Experience Oct 18, 2006

Giles makes an excellent point: write in your target language about the fields you intend to specialize in. That goes hand-in-hand with reading about your chosen fields in both source and target languages and keeping abreast of the literature and current events. But even before that, experience; for example, you mention that you work part-time in an elementary school. So, in order:

1) experience;
2) read;
3) write.

Someone, I believe, also mentioned doing some voluntary translations. Also a good suggestion, something I did when I first started out. Again in my particular case (capital markets and economics), in addition to my direct business experience, in my academic experience I wrote extensively in my field of specialization and most recently I maintain a blog, writing occasionally also in my source languages, covering current developments as well as long-term structural themes.

In other words, develop credibility and recognition (writing/publishing/blogging, voluntary work, networking through associations, etc., direct contacts - all strategies already mentioned) as an expert in the chosen field first, then as someone who translates in that field.

Again as Giles mentioned, you are already on the right path, at least as far as children's books are concerned, and you do well to diversify a bit in your attempts to specialize because that field by itself may be limited, but you have a lot of preparatory work to do in the other fields of interest mentioned: children's books, literature in general, art, history, food, and travel are all "soft", popular areas that are harder to break into as a writer and/or translator (earn at least enough income to support oneself) than the "hard" areas such as medicine, law and technical/scientific fields where demand for technical proficiency and quality may be greater than supply, or at least it appears that way to me.

Anyway, I hope these and the other suggestions help.

bale002

P.S. Congratulations to Giles on his specialization in food and wine! Capital markets and economics can be dry, but still, it keeps me busy enough most of the time.


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xxxVanussa
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Oct 23, 2006

Thank you very much for your advice, I really apreciate it.
Best regards,
Vanussa


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:10
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
One last word Oct 23, 2006

Even if you haven't published anything, check the "portfolio" tab on your profile.

Get a sample text of some 250 words that you really enjoy and upload a sample of what you are capable of doing with it. Be sure to cite your source. If it is a published work that has NOT YET BEEN TRANSLATED into your target, better.

You'll be surprised at the results this can bring. Namely, the authors themselves or their publishers -- who regularly surf the net to check on the impact of their advertising -- may contact you. (I've had it happen to me. And even where there are no immediate results, you know you're in their heads as a good choice.)

An added boost to your ego is when they specifically tell you they liked it.



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Annissa 7ar
Argentina
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
How to Specialize Oct 24, 2006

Dear Vanussa,

I suggest to the field in what you want to specialize. Then, you improve your languages in that field.
A translator must study, and study all the time, for making better translations. University, only gives us the tools, the rest depends on us. Read a lot about your preferences, in both languages you are working in, correct your style, etc.

Look for Agencies, potential clients, and send them your CV., with an enclosed letter explaining the reason why you are interested in working with them.

Good luck and the best for you,
Annissa


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xxxVanussa
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Dec 1, 2006

Once again thank you very much for your advice.
Best regards,
Vanussa


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