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One more cover letter for your advice, please
Thread poster: Alexandra Amir
Alexandra Amir  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:44
English to Russian
+ ...
Apr 23, 2014

Good day!

I'm a bit established in Russian translation market but I'd like to work with foreign outsourcers. So I've written a cover letter to send to various agencies. Could you please tell me whether it is appropriate and well-written or not.

And I have one more question. I don't want to waste time waiting for outsourcers choose me in a project or find me in the list of Russian colleagues. Can I use the Blue Board to get the agencies contacts and send them my cover letter and CV?

I would appreciate any comments. Thank you!

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Dear YYYY,
My name is Alexandra Frolova and I would like to offer my services as a freelance translator from English and French into Russian.
I strongly believe that my knowledge and experience will facilitate your work and benefit your clients:
- My Specialist Degree in International Trade Law (Moscow State University of International Relations) permits me to deal with all types of legal translations, general business and financial topics.
- You can also entrust me any insurance documentation (due to my previous experience which you can find in my CV attached to the letter).
- I am ready to undertake your projects concerning fiction literature, as I read a lot in Russian and foreign languages, and my teachers always admitted my capability to provide artistic translations.
You may be sure that my translations are literary, grammatically and stylistically impeccable.
My rates depend on the topic. I handle with general subjects and fiction for 0.07-0.08 USD/word. Legal, financial and insurance related texts are of 0.09-0.10 USD/word. As to my capability, I usually translate from 2000 to 2500 words a day.
I am a full member at Proz, and following the link http://www.proz.com/profile/1783483 you will be able to see my profile.
Please feel free to contact me for a test translation to prove my skills.

Sincerely yours,
Alexandra Frolova


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 03:44
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Test Translation Apr 23, 2014

"Please feel free to contact me for a test translation to prove my skills."

I would not say that upfront in the cover letter. Instead, you can say "Please feel free to contact me for your translation needs." or something like that.

If you welcome test translations like in the above sentence, you can find yourself doing lengthy test translations for free. Employers would love to have someone like you. Test translation should be something that you want to get out of the way as quick as possible. If employers see someone eager to do test translations, they may try to capitalize on that.


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 02:44
German to Swedish
+ ...
Peeve Apr 23, 2014

Personal pet peeve: Letters that start with "My name is XXX YYY" when that's quite obvious from the signature and/or e-mail address.

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Alexandra Amir  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:44
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 23, 2014

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:

"Please feel free to contact me for a test translation to prove my skills."

I would not say that upfront in the cover letter. Instead, you can say "Please feel free to contact me for your translation needs." or something like that.

If you welcome test translations like in the above sentence, you can find yourself doing lengthy test translations for free. Employers would love to have someone like you. Test translation should be something that you want to get out of the way as quick as possible. If employers see someone eager to do test translations, they may try to capitalize on that.

Thank you, your variant sounds much better!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:44
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Needs more targeting, IMO Apr 23, 2014

I can see that your degree qualifies you for the first specialisation, and you say you have background in the second; but the literary translation claim seems weak and therefore dilutes the entire message. Also, "my knowledge and experience will facilitate your work" seems an odd thing to say to a translation agency, although it may appeal to direct clients.

Joakim Braun wrote:
Personal pet peeve: Letters that start with "My name is XXX YYY" when that's quite obvious from the signature and/or e-mail address.

I agree - the reader isn't daft and doesn't need such things spelt out. In fact, the reader only wants to read the bits that appeal to him/her. In the case of an agency, that means "what can you do that will make money for us?".


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Alexandra Amir  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:44
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thx Apr 23, 2014

Joakim Braun wrote:

Personal pet peeve: Letters that start with "My name is XXX YYY" when that's quite obvious from the signature and/or e-mail address.


I'll change that, thank you very much.


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Alexandra Amir  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:44
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your comment Apr 23, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I can see that your degree qualifies you for the first specialisation, and you say you have background in the second; but the literary translation claim seems weak and therefore dilutes the entire message. Also, "my knowledge and experience will facilitate your work" seems an odd thing to say to a translation agency, although it may appeal to direct clients.

Joakim Braun wrote:
Personal pet peeve: Letters that start with "My name is XXX YYY" when that's quite obvious from the signature and/or e-mail address.

I agree - the reader isn't daft and doesn't need such things spelt out. In fact, the reader only wants to read the bits that appeal to him/her. In the case of an agency, that means "what can you do that will make money for us?".


I'm glad that you found time to make a comment - yours are always detailed and really helpful!
I have some background in both law and insurance, so I think I should precise that fact in another way...

Unfortunately, I didn't have an opportunity to deal with professional literary translations ( I'd love to extend boundaries of my specialisation and I don't know the right way to do so.


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:44
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
I'd recommend a native proofreader Apr 23, 2014

If you find a colleague translator (a native English speaker that also offers proofreading and revision services) to review your cover letter (and your CV), it would be a good investment (otherwise your chances to get clients with this message are low).
Good luck in your search of other markets! It's worth it.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:44
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
If you haven't done it, it isn't a specialisation Apr 23, 2014

Alexandra Amir wrote:
Unfortunately, I didn't have an opportunity to deal with professional literary translations ( I'd love to extend boundaries of my specialisation and I don't know the right way to do so.

I know what you mean - it's difficult to enlarge your service offer. But agencies who deal mostly with finance and insurance are highly unlikely to be offering literary translations. So I don't think you want to dilute your offer by referring to it. I imagine you'd do better to have a separate cover letter for that, or just apply for literary translations that you may not be 100% qualified for and see if you can land a job or two - then you'll be on your way to a specialisation.


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Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:44
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
I would make separate letters for your various specialty fields Apr 23, 2014

I very much doubt that the same companies who are looking for translators to translate legal, financial and insurance documents are going to be the same ones who are looking for literary translators. These are very different fields and the clients will be completely different.

If you want to do literary translations then you need to send letters to authors or publishing companies. Letters about your other area of expertise legal/financial/insurance should be directed towards large, multinational companies or else mid-sized companies who are looking to expand into the Russian market or have dealings with Russian companies.

Therefore, these completely separate areas of expertise are not going to blend together easily in one letter unless you find a lawyer or insurance company CEO who writes fiction in his spare time! (you never know!)

Also, I find it rather strange that your rate for literary translations is lower than for other subjects. In my experience these types of translations take more time than legal and financial texts because you need to be sure that the creative message and style of the original comes across as well in the translation and this is more difficult than technical translations and a lot more time-consuming (twice as much or more).

I would provide some examples of projects you completed in those areas of expertise to provide the reader with some real-life examples.

Best wishes,
Sarah


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Alexandra Amir  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:44
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What is the best way to do that? Apr 23, 2014

Sarah McDowell wrote:

Also, I find it rather strange that your rate for literary translations is lower than for other subjects. In my experience these types of translations take more time than legal and financial texts because you need to be sure that the creative message and style of the original comes across as well in the translation and this is more difficult than technical translations and a lot more time-consuming (twice as much or more).

I would provide some examples of projects you completed in those areas of expertise to provide the reader with some real-life examples.

Best wishes,
Sarah


I've got the point about specialisation, thank you too.

As for literaly translations, it seemed easier to me but the fact is that I have no experience in translating a huge novel or a storybook, so maybe you're right.

And what is the best way to provide examples to outsourcer? For example, I've got some contracts translated from English into Russian and vice versa. Should I just mention the names of the companies and the subject or enclose a part of any of it to the cover letter?


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Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:44
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Never mention company names or disclose parts of contracts to third parties Apr 24, 2014

If I were you I would simply write something like this (as an example):

Use categories in your CV and/or cover letter and list examples of projects using bullet points.

- translated an 8,000 word contract from English to Russian for a major insurance company
- translated a series of legal documents from English to Russian for a large company in the mining industry (just as an example - put whatever you actually did)

Legal and financial documents are highly confidential and you cannot disclose their contents to third parties, especially if you have signed a confidentiality agreement. Even if you haven't signed such an agreement I would not feel right about disclosing anything like this.

Only list the names of companies you worked for if you have asked them if it's OK but be careful as you may not want to disclose the names of your clients to third parties for competition reasons.

I strongly advise against sending examples of texts translated in the body of a cover letter even if it's not confidential because first you have to send a general letter to get their interest and then only send more specific information to those you receive replies from. Good luck!


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:44
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Literary translations Apr 24, 2014

It's a difficult field to break into, as I know from experience. I've been freelancing since 1965, and only translated my first novel about six years ago. (The author's agent contacted me in the first place). Since then I have been able to claim some experience, and am now on my third and fourth novels, and have also translated short stories. But maybe the CV would be a better place to refer to such aspirations than the cover letter. I would also re-word it.

"I am ready to undertake your projects concerning fiction literature, as I read a lot in Russian and foreign languages, and my teachers always admitted my capability to provide artistic translations."

Make that something like:

"I would like to undertake literary projects. I have read many literary works in Russian and other languages and my teachers always considered me particularly capable of producing good translations in this field."

As for charging less for literary work, I charge a bit less for it, not because I don't think it is worth as much as technical or commercial work, but because many people who want novels and stories translated are struggling young authors who can't afford high rates. Some still won't accept my rates anyway. I have had authors with no idea of translation costs, saying they only expected to pay about a third of what I charge.


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:44
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Few things Apr 24, 2014

Hi Alexandra,

Make the letter shorter
Don't include rates
Get the text proofed by a good English translator
Phone the person you really want to contact before sending, and write a letter to them personally (on the basis of your cover letter), not one for everyone and anyone


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Maria Amorim  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 02:44
Swedish to Portuguese
+ ...
About your second question Apr 24, 2014

You can use the Translation Agencies/Companies directory to get the agencies contacts but be sure that they are willing to hire new professionals. Check their homepages and see if there is some explicit information on that so that you don´t waste your time. Check the Blue Board as well to be on the safe side but have in mind that not all great companies offer jobs here on Proz (no statistics about them on Blue Board).

Good luck!


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