November 30, 2007

Translating: Can It Be Made A Full Time Job?

It is not an easy question to answer. Whether or not one can make translating a full time job depends on many things. First, of course, it depends on whether one is confident about his/her ability as a translator and the quality of his/her translation. Then it depends also on his ability to market his service. To be able to make translating a full time job one must be sure that the income from this job can be relied on for a living. Otherwise, one will not be able to totally depend on it as a full time job.

How can we change translating from a side income generator to a full-time job? Firstly we have to be sure that our service as a translator is marketable which means that we feel sure that there will be regular demand of our work from the clients. It is not impossible to do if you are serious about making a living by translating. At present there are many publishers which need quality translators to help them translate foreign books into Indonesian or possibly Indonesian books into English. Once you are accepted as a translator for a publisher, it will not be hard for you to find translating job to do. You will be regularly assigned by the publisher to translate foreign books into Indonesian or vice versa. The fee of course depends on the contract between you and the publisher. In addition to working as a translator for a specific publisher, you can also offer your translated work to various publishers which may be interested in publishing your work of translation. It means that you work as an independent translator, you can work for many publishers at the same time. Well, the choice is yours.

I myself have been working as an independent translator for many years now. Although at times I may be bound by a contract with my client but it is not a permanent contract, it is only a temporary contract between me and my client for a certain project of translation. The contract is over when the job is done. The contract is oral contract based on trust. When the job is done, I will be paid accordingly and the contract is over.

November 28, 2007

Translating As a Side Job

I have been making translating as my side job since my first translation succeeded. I have translated many short stories and a novel. They were all published in national magazines. In addition to selling my work to national magazines I usually get orders from people who need my help to translate their documents. They pay me according to my standard of payment. To some people it may sound too expensive, but I give my customers quality translation which will never be rejected by anyone who reads and understands the language.

At present I regularly get orders from Graduate Students of Sriwijaya University to translate the abstracts of their theses. This kind of assignment helps me improve my skills in translating and enrich my English vocabulary because I have to deal with various subjects of knowledge. I like this side job because it does not take long to finish and the clients appreciate my work because they are satisfied with the quality of the translation proven by the fact that none of my work is refused by their thesis advisors.

In terms of payment, I have never bluntly determined my fee per page of translated abstract. Usually I hand in my translation to the client in the form typed, properly formatted, and ready to be published abstract. They usually pay me in a range between Rp 50,000 and Rp 100,000 which equals US $5 to $10 per page. Well, that is not too expensive to them since they feel it is worth my effort and the quality of my translation. Frankly speaking, this fee was initially determined by my own clients when I received my early orders of abstract translation. Then, when the next clients ask me how much I am paid for my abstract translation, I just honestly mention that my fee is within that aforementioned range of figures.

Since the beginning of my career as a translator I have been properly paid by my clients because I can guarantee them that my work of translation is ok proven by the facts that many of my translated works are published by national magazines. This standard has helped me in dealing with my clients. Since mid eighties and early nineties my work of translation has been valued at over US $5 per page. So, if the present client pays me at the aformentioned rate, it is not expensive because the rate has been effective for more than 15 years. And if they feel that it is too expensive they can go and find other translators who are ready to do it for a lower payment.

Although I have earned a lot from my translating job, I still consider this as a side job because I have never tried to professionally market my service as a translator. Most of the time clients know my services from word of mouth of my former clients. I have never advertized my services. Other sources of information are my colleagues and former lecturers. They brag about the quality of my work without my asking them to do so.