Self-publishing: options for authors and translators

In this episode, Eve and Corinne discuss tools, platforms and methods for self-publishing your own books or books you’ve translated. We delve into the entire book creation and production process, including how to compose the text of your book, design the interior, design the cover, choose a print-on-demand platform and then market your book. This information is drawn from our experiences self-publishing our own books, as discussed in our previous Book Launch episode.

Links mentioned in this episode:
Amazon CreateSpace
Lulu Press
Scrivener authoring software
LyX DTP software
E-junkie digital download service
BookBaby e-book distribution service
Sue Campbell, freelance book designer

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Self-publishing: options for authors and translators

Book launch! Eve and Corinne’s new publications

In this episode, Speaking of Translation co-hosts Eve Bodeux and Corinne McKay discuss their newly-released books.

Eve’s book Maintaining Your Second Language: practical and productive strategies for translators, teachers, interpreters and other language lovers is available in print and electronic versions. It’s a handbook of fun and useful strategies for keeping up a language that you speak at a high level but don’t use all the time (which could even be your native language, or your fourth language!). Eve presented on this topic at a past ATA conference (and for the French translators’ association–SFT), and many attendees commented that she offered all-new tips that they had never considered.

Corinne’s book is the third edition of her popular business book How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator. It’s available in print and electronic versions, or as a direct-download PDF on Corinne’s website. With over 10,000 copies sold, this book has become a go-to handbook for beginning and experienced translators alike, and the new edition features an all-new technology chapter by Jost Zetzsche, translation technology guru and author of the popular Took Kit translation technology newsletter.

We discuss what’s inside these books, who can benefit from them and how we went about creating them!

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Speaking of Translation Book Launch!

Tips from a project manager turned freelance translator

Our interviewee Angela Benoit launched her freelance French<>English translation business (yes, she really is a native speaker of both languages!) after working as a translation project manager in New York for over six years. Angela has now been freelancing for about a year and a half, and she recently shared some of her insights from both sides of the translation industry: How can a translator move from an agency’s roster to actually getting work? Are rate negotiations just about the money, or are there other factors? How can project managers find the best translators, or help the best translators find them? This interview is chock-full of helpful information for translators and project managers alike!

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Tips from a project manager turned freelancer

Exploiting your subject matter expertise

Acting as Speaking of Translation’s roving reporter in Paris, France, Eve met up with and interviewed specialized French to English translator Stephanie Strobel. Stephanie talks about her experience having a very specific area of expertise within translation, and how all translators can benefit from developing a niche of their own.

Stephanie works out of her office in Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia, specializing in hard-core engineering texts and other technical areas. She is a sought-after translator for these types of texts, since, as she says, she speaks three languages: English, French and Engineering!

Listen to Stephanie’s success story and hear takeaways for your own translation business and how you (and your clients!) can benefit from you focusing on a specific subject area and developing your own subject matter expertise.

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Exploiting Your Subject Expertise

Being a freelancer and being a mom

Running a freelance business and raising a family can be a great fit, but combining those roles can result in a lot of stress, and requires planning, prioritizing, and of course flexibility and a good sense of humor! For this episode on being a freelancer and being a mom (stay tuned for our next episode on being a freelancer and being a dad!), Eve and Corinne spoke with two moms who balance their significant family responsibilities with extremely active professional lives:

Elena Langdon is a Portuguese-English translator and interpreter and a former chair of the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. She grew up in Brazil and now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children, ages 2, 4 and 7. Elena specializes in medical, legal and social science work and is an active interpreter and translator trainer.

Jennifer Nielsen is a Spanish-English translator and interpreter and the immediate past president of the Mexican Translators Association. She is originally from Colorado and now lives in Guadalajara, Mexico with her husband and her twin sons who are almost a year old. Jennifer works with Mexican businesses that are expanding into the US market, especially in the areas of law, marketing and academia.

We pulled Jennifer and Elena away from their extremely busy lives and asked them for their insights on:

  • Maternity leave: how long to take off and how to talk to your clients about it
  • Child care: what their child care situations are, and whether they try to work with their kids at home
  • Managing the uncertainty of freelancing with small kids: what happens when the kids are sick, or the babysitter is sick, or there’s a snow day?
  • Client relations: how much their clients know about their personal lives
  • The boiling point: how do they avoid being overwhelmed by stress and exhaustion, and what do they do when they are overwhelmed?

If you’re a freelancer and a mom, we think you’ll really enjoy this episode!

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Being a freelancer and being a mom

Being a freelancer and being a dad

Hot on the heels of our Being a freelancer and being a mom episode (which logged almost 1,000 downloads in its first week!), we’ve put three freelancing dads in the hot seat. We asked them about many of the same topics as our freelancing moms: how they managed taking time off when their kids were born, how they handle work, child care/school and family responsibilities now, and what they tell their clients about their family situations. We think you’ll enjoy this episode (lots of inspiration and creative ideas for other freelancing dads!), and thanks very much to our guests:

Miguel Armentia has academic degrees both in biochemistry and translation, and became a full-time freelance translator in 2008. Miguel translates English and French into Spanish and specializes in medical and IT translation. In addition, Miguel is a member of the IT Commission of Tremédica (the International Association of Translators and Editors in Medicine and Applied Science). He is the dad of two daughters, ages 1 and 3 1/2.

Jonathan Downie is a conference interpreter working between French and English, as well as a researcher, writer and speaker. He is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he lives with his wife and two children who are 1 ½ and 3. He is currently finishing a PhD on expectations of interpreters at Heriot-Watt University and writing his first book, 10 Challenges for the Future of Interpreting, as well as serving on the board of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

James Perry is a French-to-English freelance translator and lives in a Scottish Highland glen with his wife and 8-year-old adopted daughter. He is an Associate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. James specializes in subtitle translations for French media companies. He translates current affairs programmes, documentaries, cooking programmes and films: these include police thrillers and romantic comedy! He loves the variety and the fact that he is always learning.

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Being a freelancer and being a dad

Insider tips for working with translation agencies

Corinne interviews translation industry veteran Steve Lank about the freelancer-agency partnership and how to make it work well for both sides. Steve earned his MA in Spanish Translation and Interpreting from Monterey Institute and has worked in the industry for 27 years; from 1998-2011, he chaired the ASTM subcommittee responsible for developing and publishing ASTM F2575-06 Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation, the first standard of its kind in the United States. Steve started out as a freelance Spanish-English translator and ESL teacher, and subsequently rose to senior management roles in translation companies in the US, Ireland and Spain. He currently serves as Vice President for Translation Services at Cesco Linguistic Services, working from the Washington, DC office.

Steve emphasizes that while he’s spent most of his career on the agency side, he still considers himself an advocate for translators, and feels that the agency-freelancer relationship can be a win-win if both sides can learn to trust each other and acknowledge that each party needs the other. <Speaking of Translation agrees!> Steve has also given numerous presentations for freelance translators who want to establish themselves in the industry.

We put Steve in the hot seat and asked him:

  • Chicken/egg: how can beginning translators find their first clients?
  • What’s up with downward price negotiations? Why do agencies apply them, and how can translators best handle them?
  • What are the top dos and don’ts of translator resumes? What errors pop up again and again? How can a translator stand out among the many unsolicited applications that an agency receives?
  • How about following up on agency applications? How often should freelancers follow up, and using what method?
  • How does a translator turn a first-time client into a regular client, and become one of an agency’s preferred providers?
  • How about the increasing emphasis on specialization in our industry? Is the “learn by doing” mindset OK, or do translators need more formal training in their specializations?

We think you’ll find Steve’s answers enlightening and helpful, so listen away!

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Insider tips for working with translation agencies