September 12, 2015
Recently, a new client called a colleague who provides editorial services. The results of this relationship have been the following: the pay is low, they do not pay on time (they must be reminded that they have not made their payments), their texts are poor (full of mistakes and errors), and they allow her little time to do her work. It seems a good example of the kind of client one has to get rid of.
On October 2011, I posted in this blog what I think is a good client and a conclusion. To me:
- Accept and pay fair tariffs.
- Pay on time.
- Provide good-quality texts.
- Ask reasonable deadlines.
- Tell exactly what they want, because they know what they want.
- Are always available for consultation.
- Respect their translators and value their services.
- Establish respectful, honest and transparent relations.
- Give their translators credit for their work and respect their copyright.
- Establish long-term relations.
If you find clients that are not like this, you better stay away from them.” 
Four years later, I mention this subject again because it is still valid that bad practices are the facial composite of bad clients.
 Cf. “Translation Tips: Clients (2)”, October 15 2011.
[Image: Abraham Bosse. A Printer’s Shop, c. 1642, etching.]
July 18, 2015
Last January, I posted: “In the business of politics, common sense tells that, if you want to be elected, you should promise lower taxes. But, if you want to be reelected, you simply do it.” 
I think I was not wrong. July’s announcement of a new income tax reduction in Spain before this year’s general elections seems to confirm this idea.
The new income tax reduction from 19% to 15% for freelancers has now been added to the previous reduction from 21% to 19% approved in January 2015 before municipal elections.
Although this fiscal policy did not have the government’s expected electoral results in those elections, we will have to wait for the general elections results to see what happens.
Whatever the motives might be, tax reductions are always welcomed.
 Cf. “2015: New Taxes,” January 10 2015.
[Image: Paul Vos, The Tax Collector, 1543, oil on canvas.]
June 27, 2015
Barcelona: Sketches to Remember, my translation into English of Gonzalo Rueda’s Barcelona: Esbozos para recordar is already in local bookstores. It is an original 62-page illustrated guide of some of the most significant places in this city, with short descriptive and historical texts. It includes more than twenty interesting locations, such as Roman and medieval sites, churches and palaces at the Gothic Quarter, the Cathedral, La Rambla, the Church of the Holy Family, Modernist buildings, Montjuïc, museums, venues of the 1992 Olympic Games, Camp Nou soccer stadium, etc.
his “Introduction”, the author explains that it is “intended to enjoy recalling a visit to this city [and that it is] also a gift or an invitation for those who have never been here.”
[Image: Gonzalo Rueda: Barcelona: Sketches to Remember (trans. Fernando E. Nápoles Tapia), Larousse Editorial, 2015.
June 20, 2015
Like every year around this date, Madrid’s Book Fair opened May 29 until June 14. On this occasion, it had the bad omen of a 2.5% decrease in the number of books published in 2014. Sales in this sector have dropped 40.6% since 2008.
According to official figures, the 74th edition hosted 322 publishers, plus distributors, specialized and general booksellers, and official institutions.
Once more, translators were practically unnoticed. No matter how much I searched looking for translations and translators, I only found a few passing references.
On the contrary, there were a lot of press comments about the presence of politicians. “What visitors find mostly around these days on the Fair are politicians. The time when writers were the stars of this event are a long way off (…),”  wrote a journalist just a few days after the inauguration.
However, the Fair had a positive economic result with a 6.1% sales increase for a total of 7,904,000 euros. 
 M. J. Espinosa de los Monteros: “¿Caminar o pasear por la Feria del Libro?”, [Walking or Strolling at the Book Fair?] El País, June 6 2015.
 Cf. “Translating Backstage,” June 23 2012; “Madrid’s 2013 Book Fair,” June 29 2013; “Madrid’s 2014 Book Fair,” May 31 2014; “Madrid’s 2014 Book Fair (2),” June 7 2014; “Madrid’s 2014 Book Fair (3),” June 14 2014; and “Madrid’s 2014 Book Fair (4),” June 21 2014.
[Image: Fernando Vicente’s poster for Madrid’s 74th Book Fair.]
May 9, 2015
Sometimes, clients are in a hurry. And when this involves urgent translations, their rush is more reflected on the way they present their orders than on the deadlines they request.
Professional translators are capable to meet urgent deadlines. They are prepared to do so, even if this type of translation in not usual.
What actually complicates things is the ambiguity in requesting an urgent translation when there is hurry, since it is a frequent cause of confusion.
What do a translators need to carry out an urgent job? They need more than a deadline, of course. They need clear instructions of what the client actually wants.
Unclear assignments generate complications and delays. Clients who take time to phone or write an e-mail with precise information of what they need save time, and assure that their translations will be delivered rapidly and with no interruptions.
That is the first step—theirs—to achieve punctuality and quality.
[Image: Pieter Brueghel: The Tower of Babel, oil on a panel, 114 × 155 cm (1563).
May 2, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, I lectured on “The Experiences of a Freelance Translator” for the students in the Master in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Translation at Pompeu Fabra University’s IDEC, in Barcelona. Two fundamental aspects in the training of translators of any specialty were brought together: education and experience.
More than 50 years ago, when I was taking my first steps in this profession, we did not have translation courses like today, and practical experience was basic when selecting one of these professionals.
This situation has changed. Students come to master and postgraduate courses more prepared than ever. Today’s education compensates the lack of experience in beginners, and provides labor markets with professionals that are fit to produce good translations since they start their careers.
Experience—only achieved with time—is beginning to occupy a second place during the evaluating process of translators, who are now better trained.
But there is a contradiction: while qualification goes up in Spain, salaries and tariffs go down.
[Image: Giovanni Bellini: St. Jerome (patron saint of translators and interpreters) Reading in the Countryside, 1505, oil on canvas.]
March 21, 2015
This is now a good question. Because, in the past few weeks, one major publishing house in Barcelona, has e-mailed its independent contractors informing them about its decision to apply new—lower—translation and proofreading tariffs.
Manifest protests and concerns by its contractors led to an explanation justifying this measure on a 36% drop in the book market since 2009. It is convenient to remember here that literary translation tariffs in Spain were already the lowest in Europe before the economic crisis began. 
These announced new tariffs are included in a general policy to reduce production costs in Spain by applying lower salaries with a consequent lower consumption rate that is already manifesting itself in that 36%.
Logic seems to suggest that when a consumer society buys less, lowering its purchasing power generates lower consumption, and not the opposite.
Answering the dilemma in this post’s title does not take much thinking.
 Cf. Esther Allen (ed.): To Be Translated or Not to Be, PEN / IRL Report on the International Situation of Literary Translation, Institut Ramon Llul, Barcelona, 2007.
[Image: Eugène Delacroix: Hamlet and Horatio in the Cemetery, 81 × 66 cm, oil on canvas, 1839.
March 14, 2015
This week, I finished my first two big assignments for 2015. One was a Spanish-English translation of an ilustrated Barcelona travel guide; and the other, a collaborative English-Spanish translation of a scenic walks’ book.
About a year and a half ago, I posted with this same title about my perception of the new trends in what our clients wanted up to 2013’s third trimester. I quote: “What drew more my attention […] are figures related to subjects requested: travel guides and cookbooks represent 69% of the total.” 
I will add today that, the following year—2014—, we worked on a total of 30 travel guides and 4 cookbooks. If this trend continues, they will again be an important source of income among the subjects requested.
 Cf. “Real Trends,” September 28 2013.
[Image: Albert Dürer. Traveller and Dog, woodcut, 15th century.]
February 7, 2015
For some years, Spanish publishing houses have been establishing the rule of laying out translations of some titles on the same page design of the original book. It is some sort of “exact copy” that does not take into account the different lengths of the original and the translated text.
Translating then becomes something more than that. It is both translating and editing to shorten the translated text to adjust it to the original space with the consequent loss of part of what was written by the author.
I do not know if losing text to save space this way makes sense. There are other ways to solve it. But I cannot stop feeling like Procrustes, the classic mythical ancient Greek character who chopped off portions of people who did not fit into their beds.
[Image: Theseus slaying Procrustes in a painting at the bottom of an Attic red-figure kylix, c. 440 BC.
January 10, 2015
In the business of politics, common sense tells that, if you want to be elected, you should promise lower taxes. But, if you want to be reelected, you simply do it.
Coinciding with the next municipal elections in 2015, and regional and general elections in 2016, the Spanish government seems to have chosen the latter. Beginning January 1 2015, freelancers and professionals will be paying a 19% income tax instead of 21%. Value added tax will remain 21%.
This lower income tax —still one fifth of professional incomes— is barely noticeable in the individual economy of freelancers. We will have to wait to see its electoral effect.
[Image: Paul Vos, The Tax Collector, 1543, oil on canvas.]