I was talking yesterday about the need to team up with a good proofreader when you are a newbie. But in fact, two pairs of eyes see far more than just one pair, so the proofreader becomes a need even in the case of experienced translators. Nevertheless, proofreaders should always be paid for their work; that’s the only way to maintain this service.
I personally don’t like acting as a proofreader. Reviewing something translated by someone else may be quite an upsetting experience.
First of all, you may encounter a translator who is quite new in the field and whose work is just chaos. First reaction is to throw up your hands in horror. Then you speak with your client. If your client is reasonable (and let’s knock on wood, mine are and trust me, maybe because I assign guilt with the same largesse I assign praise), he will give you carte blanche to charge whatever you need to charge. In these cases, what you need to do is to charge by the hour, because correcting/reviewing a bad translation may be more time-consuming than just translating the text itself. This has a simple argument: choose several juicy examples, backtranslate them (so that your client may understand them, in case he is foreign), and then present your proposed version and argue (with reason, dictionaries, and grammars) why it’s better. Few clients withstand that.
You may also find yourself arguing with an unreasonable client. In that case, you have two options: reject the job on the grounds of its (lack of) quality or work for free. Personally, I am so simple I believe they call it work because it must be paid for. But everybody is free to decide.
Someday, I’ll talk about the concept of firing clients… :-)
Until now I’ve written about agencies that contact me to proofread work. They are the same agencies that I translate for, so I know for sure they add value to their translators’ work. I don’t mind they charge their clients the earth. They pay my rates in both cases: translation and proofreading. Obviously this arrangement is profitable for them, and for me too.
What happens in the case of final clients? Same thing, although this time there is no middleman (agency) at all. You are the one in charge of managing the project, translating it, finding a proofreader, paying for his/her job, and delivering a finished product. In this case, the priority is to deliver a FINISHED product, ready for publication if necessary.
When I have a final client, my rates go up by 50-75% to cover additional expenses, such as project management and proofreading.
Remember to treat your proofreader with care. Ask for his/her rates, tell him/her about the deadlines you have, and do not forget to talk about your payment conditions. In the case of final clients, the proofreader works directly for you, so you will have to negotiate conditions with the proofreader the same way you negotiate with any of your clients. And you must respect those conditions meticulously. You cannot argue “I’ll pay you when I get paid by my client”. Your proofreader doesn’t care about your client; YOU are his/her client.
Get used to working with several proofreaders specialized in different fields and choose them for their suitability. Ask them to explain changes you don’t understand. Work with people you trust and admire…
:-) Sorry for my preaching today.
PS: If you work for an agency as a translator, what’s expected is that they will get a proofreader for your work (after all, you have not included the rate for an independent proofreader in your rates). But that does not give you carte blanche to submit your work without your own proofreading. I usually do two revisions: spellchecker, that is quite bad (see the entry entitled “De pautas y putas“, in Spanish, that deals specifically with that topic), and a “manual” proofreading (the usual ones, with a printed copy and a marker).