Monday, February 16, 2009

Advice to beginners: short reckonings make long friends

Negotiating after the fact is unpleasant: better instead to make sure that our customers and us understand the same way what we are talking about.

To avoid misunderstandings, I've added in our price sheet short definitions of some terms that are often confused (editing and proofreading), or that may be controversial (whether the word count is calculated on the source or target, or when a job is charged at rush rates):

Editing: Revision of the translation with correction of mistranslations, omissions/additions, as well as language errors in the target language. Done by comparing the target text to the source text.
Proofreading: Revision of the translation to correct typos and similar errors in the target language. Done without reference to the source language.
Word counts: Word counts are normally calculated on the source text. Exceptions are texts provided as hard copy or in non-editable format (e.g., most pdf files): for these the word count is calculated on the target text.
Rush rate: applied on all projects that involve more than 2500 words of translation, or 7500 words of editing or 10,000 words of proofreading per person, per day.
Weekend rate: applied on any project that needs to be done on Saturday, Sunday or other holiday.

What's important is not so much the specific definitions chosen but rather sharing them with our customers, to avoid fruitless discussions later ("...I sent it to you on Friday, so there was plenty of time to do it by Monday morning: why should I pay a rush rate?").

Also, for each project it is better to make sure we agree with our customer before the project starts. Clarify with the customer any instruction that is not clear, and ask for missing instructions. In the same way, if we discussed the project on the phone, better to send a short e-mail to recap, and ask the customer to confirm:

"Dear John:

It was a pleasure talking to you earlier today. To recap what we discussed: I've agreed to translate project X by Tuesday EOB. The word count is 6,000 words, and the deliverables are clean and bilingual (Trados) files. The rate we agreed is $ y / word.

Please confirm and send me your PO or work order number.

Best regards,"

As we say in Italian, "patti chiari, amicizia lunga".

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. Clear terms at the beginning of a professional relationship can avoid difficult and embarrassing misunderstandings further down the line.


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