Hear me out… You’ve spent days or weeks working with a team to fine-tune your document before it is published. Now, it’s time to get it translated, so all you need is a good translator, right?
Wrong. If you needed a team to put together the original version, what makes you think a translator working alone will produce what you need? For your most critical documents, don’t trust a translator, trust a translation team. If you hire a translator who will work with another colleague, you’re more likely to receive a translation that has the same impact as the text you produced.
My workflow varies from project to project. For instance, for a recent document that had lots of short, catchy titles, I had a brainstorming session on the phone with my colleague, but I wouldn’t do that for every project. Here’s a typical workflow I might use when working with a colleague on an important document:
Step 1 – My first version: The fact my work will be read by an accomplished colleague shouldn’t make any difference. But I’ll be honest with you: it does. My reputation is important to me, and I know my colleague will pick up on anything that doesn’t quite sound right, or worse, any blatant mistranslations. So I read my work a little more carefully before passing it on. For some parts of the text, I even offer two solutions and leave a note asking my colleague which one he or she prefers.
Step 2 – My colleague’s edits: My colleague reads my work through carefully, edits it to improve the text, and adds additional comments with other ideas.
Step 3 – I go through all my colleague’s changes. Some of them I accept; some I reject; some I replace with a better idea.
Step 4 – My colleague looks at my feedback, and makes additional suggestions.
Step 5 – Depending on how much discussion is still taking place, I’ll either finalise the text or get on the phone and discuss the last few points.
Step 6 – I read through the entire text one last time in English to check the overall flow of the text before sending it to the client.
If it took an entire team to draft your document, or you had five different versions before you produced the definitive one, don’t have it translated by a translator working alone. Find a team.