Looking for a mentor (as well) English> Spanish
Thread poster: Magan
Magan  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:55
English to Spanish
May 9, 2006

Hello everyone,

Following Brian's interesting post ( I wish I had thought about it before), I am also looking for someone who can give me a hand to get started.

I decided one year ago to be a freelance translator full-time, but after all the hard work, I still find it really difficult and I am about to give up.

I have had a few projects from private clients, however I have found impossible to find any job through the agencies I have contacted (they just don't reply to even acknowledge the receipt of my CV).

I am really determined to make this work, after trying for so long it is hard for me to give up now.

I am looking for someone working in my language pairs who can outsource jobs for me or has so much work that he/she has to turn down projects.

I have experience in the translation of literature, articles, reviews, research material for students and general translation. I will be interested in the same fields or similar that don't include technical translation.

If anyone can give me a hand to get started I would be willing to discuss a suitable arrangement, regarding payment percentages, time, etc. So that the experience will be worth for both, not only for me.

Thank you so much in advance to everyone for any feedback or ideas.

Inma


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 03:55
Spanish to English
A thought May 9, 2006

I don't know about other translators in other places but I definitely have the impression that the greatest demand for work in my language pairs is in technology and law. I have immense respect for those who can do a good translation of literature, but I would suggest that you think about doing legal and/or technical translations if you want to survive as a translator.

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Magan  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:55
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
"Think big, start small" May 9, 2006

Thanks Lesley, for your feedback.

Sadly I must say that I know you are right. I have read it in almost every post related to literature, translators don't earn a living from that.

However, as I am not fully established I wanted to get some confidence starting with something that is not too specialised or technical. My aim in the long term is translating Literature (just for the love of the task, if I get the chance) and probably some kind of work I.T. related (for a living) but that would be in the long term.

I prefer to think that I must think big but start "small", at least, until I get some confidence and a good amount of experience.

Thanks so much for your advice, I know it is an honest one and from experience.

Inma


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Gabriela Lozano  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
For literature translations send CV to publishing companies. May 10, 2006

Hi,
I say that a year is not that much, you should keep on trying. Yes, we do get many rejections or just don't get answers; it is never easy to get started. Keep confident and send more CVs. Also, building new clients and keeping good relationships with the ones you already have is a constant activity that we do over and over every once in a while.

I would recommend to send your CV to publishing companies (books, newspapers, magazines) and even give your card to writers directly. You never know.

Good luck and keep your spirits up!


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 09:55
... May 10, 2006

To the best of my knowledge, you don't get rich from literary translation, otherwise we would all be doing it

Perhaps your CV or cover letter does not give a good impression? (I have not seen your CV/profile, so I don't know) When I started out, I looked at a variety of CVs here on Proz to see how they were laid out and presented. I adapted what I learned from that to my own CV.

I have written a Proz article about mentoring if you would like to check it out.

You need to sit down and draw up a business plan, set yourself targets. (e.g. within three months, you will have earned X amount of money). If you want to go into IT or any other field - start learning about it now! Do a course, read & learn as much as you can, do whatever you can to honestly project yourself as a specialised translator.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-05-10 09:19]


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Bryan Smith
Local time: 02:55
German to English
+ ...
Specialization May 10, 2006

Well, first off, my own such post has yet to produce anyone willing to take on the task. However, it has garnered much help from several people that has been very useful.
Second of all, in the last couple weeks, I have completed a couple projects and been added to the databases of several more translation agencies, and I have been incredibly busy with translations the last two days and will be again tonight with yet another project, although short. Incredibly busy for me is not the same as incredibly busy for a full-time translator, of course, as I also work a full time job during the day, so it does not take that much translation work to render me "incredibly busy", but I feel I am well on my way.
Now for the helpful part. I credit all this to specialization. I work as a software engineer during the day and therefore promote myself as a translator of software and computer related documents. I edited my tag line to reflect my specializations. I clearly list my specialization on the top of my profile page in an eye-catching way. All the translations I have gotten recently have been software related because agencies know that's what I do. It's also nice because they're easy (because that's what I know about). Specialization is great! And when I use the money I will get for the jobs I have done over the last couple weeks to join Proz.com as a platinum member, I can only imagine things will improve. The point is to specialize in a field that has a lot of work and make that specialization unmistakable.
Literary translations are a lot of fun, but as someone else said, if there was an overabundance of work there, we would all specialize in it.
I have not sent out any unsolicited CV's to agencies, but have heard that when you do this, you should expect about a 3% success rate, 3 out of every 100 agencies will hire you. What I have done is send CV's to translation agencies posting requests for CV's on the job board (both here and at other sites). I quote on jobs that I am qualified for and let it be known that I would be interested in further work even if this job is given to someone else.
Either way, it is important to specialize, and in an industry with a lot of translation work. I can attest to that even in my limited experience so far.

Good Luck!
Bryan


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Magan  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:55
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the feedback May 10, 2006

Thanks for your feedback, Orla and Linaza,

I initially started sending my CV (one year ago) to publishers, but after the lack of answer, I started sending to agencies with even less luck, if I can say. When Brian posted his message I thought it would be a great idea, when you are not established it seems nearly impossible to get a chance, however there are here translators constantly complaining about having so much work that they have to turn down projects. So I thought someone might be interested in a deal that would be of interest for both. However, of course I don't give up sending more CVs.

Your idea of newspapers and magazines didn't cross my mind before, so it would be a good idea to check it out.

Orla, even though you haven't seen it, I think you might be right about my CV. As I have always juggled occasional translation work with my full time job. The CV was set up for IT work (that is what I used to do), since last year my CV have changed numerous times trying to adapt to translation. Although I guess it needs a lot more work.

I know one can not live on literary translation, so I haven't closed myself to the opportunity of general text or translation work that is not technical or too specialised.

I have read ages ago your article on Mentoring (but I will check it bak again) in the last twelve months I think I might have read every thread, article and tips that are on the website. I have gained a valuable knowledge, I can't deny it, it is just the frustrating feeling of being in front of the computer all the day waiting for responses to my CV, following leads of potential companies, potential websites that might have potential information, while no money is coming in, makes you wonder why on earth have you specialised in languages, when you can't even get a job.

Thanks a lot both for the good tips. I will be having a look at them.

Inma


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Gabriela Lozano  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Other ideas May 10, 2006

Hi, thinking further about Publishing Companies, I know you live in the UK, but the Publishing Companies that would require literature translators would be those in Spain. Perhaps you should consider sending your CV to these and not directly to the ones in the UK. Books from English writers come to Latin America translated by Spanish Publishing Cos. Those publishing children's books could be your target.

I believe that good translators specialized in literature are also needed, and there are not many. Although many of us would love to do literature, few of us have studied philology or literature. I don't completely agree with the idea of turning your background down to do technical translations... there are people who studied technical fields who are better qualified for that; you are better qualified for literature. I would worry about a technical translator translating literature. You know that old saying: "¡Zapatero a tus zapatos!"

Well, it's just a personal opinion. Not to diminish the importance of others' opinions.

The best to you all!


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 09:55
Being brilliant at languages is not enough - specialist subject knowledge is crucial May 10, 2006

As well as being a translator, I am also a translation project co-ordinator for an agency's Irish office. I get CVs every day as well phone calls from wannabe translators looking for work on spec, so I believe I can see both sides of the story. You would not believe the amount of poorly-written CVs and e-mails I get.

I think that a translator's CV is a lot like an actor's CV, where you list the projects you have done. It requires a change of focus on the part of the translator because you are not an employee looking for a job, you are sending the equivalent of a flyer advertising your services. Think about the all the flyers and pamplets that get delivered to your house - I bet you either keep the useful ones (like the local takeaway ) or throw them in the bin. The same applies here.

Spending time on your CV, your internet site, your Proz profile WILL pay off eventually, but you need to give it 2-3 months before you start hearing back from people, that's just how it goes.

Don't restrict yourself to mailing your CVs to English or Spanish speaking countries either. I've had quite a few German to English requests from Dutch agencies, for example.
I do think you should push the IT aspect of your CV a lot more. It may not be 100% what you want right now, but it's the kind of work that will pay the bills and come up more often than translating a book that might only notch up relatively poor sales figures.

[Edited at 2006-05-10 22:10]

[Edited at 2006-05-10 22:13]


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Magan  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:55
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Very useful ideas May 11, 2006

Hi everyone,

Brian, I was wondering if you had had any luck with your call, but I still hope that someone might answer your post as it seems that some translators have found mentors one way or another when they started, so it is just the chance that someone interested sees your post.

I am happy that at least you have been busy with some projects. Regarding specialisation, you are 100% right. I have my degree in Philology and my specialisation is linguistics, literature and translation itself, although is not a field that pays.

I have some studies in IT and specialisation in Database, but I don't feel confident enough, although I don't discard the idea that it would be an open option in the near future.

Linaza, I am really happy to find someone that knows what Philology entitles, usually when I say I have a degree in Philology, people wonder what on earth I am talking about.

I have some friends in my group of writers (also translators) that have advised my to let the agencies know that I am also a writer, as they seem to prefer writers to translate literary texts. It seems to work for them, but it hasn't work for me so far. At the beginning, with my background in literature I thought it would be easier (degree, writer myself, member of writers' groups, literary reviewer, and member of a critique group where I provide regular feedback to writers on improving their manuscripts for publication), yes, I thought it would be easier.

I have sent my CV to English Publishers publishing bilingual books, but it hasn't cross my mind actually, to send it to Spanish publishers, so that is really a good tip.

Orla, I really appreciate all your points. I use to share office with the head of Human Resources and hear every day coments on awful CVs. So, knowing it already, I should have put more care on mine.

To point my specialisation towards IT, is something I have been advised a couple of times. So I don't discard the idea, although it is something I don't feel very comfortable with at the moment, but I see your point, I would probably get my work from there and not from literature.

Thanks so much to the three of you, I think this is helping me to make a more clear picture in my mind of what it is that I am doing wrong and also you have provided really good tips.

Thanks,

Inma


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:55
Member
English to Spanish
Other possible specialization alleys May 11, 2006

Although technical specializations are in good demand (thankfully for me, also a chemist), there are other possibilities not to rule out. For example marketing (being a writer should be a bonus point). Or whatever you are interested in and naturally inclined to read about, say History, Art, Politics, whatever… No matter what you choose to focus on, I really believe that stating some sort of specializarion (as prominently as possible and backed up with facts if available) is a must these days when your CV has to stand out from thousand others.

Best of luck and don’t dismay!


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