Have realistic expectations regarding price and deadline
While it is not possible to state how much a translation should cost or how long it should take to complete there has been an increasing trend towards clients offering rates of €0.03 per word for translation and €0.01 per word for proofreading or editing which are simply not feasible in many western countries. Many potential translation clients also seem to believe that it is realistic to expect a translator to produce 10,000 words of complex marketing or financial text per day. While translation memory tools have enabled translators to work faster 3000 words per is often a more realistic target when producing the quality professional translators aim for.
Understand what you need
Knowing why you need a translator is key to making sure you get the right service. If a translation of a text about up-coming events is to be used in your in-house news letter then a gist translation might be enough. If a translation of your annual report is to be sent to potential investors then a polished translation which uses the correct terminology and structure in the appropriate language is required and if your hotel website needs translated to attract guests from other countries then the translation will need to be localised so your would-be guests feel as comfortable as possible using your site.
Provide the translator with as much information as possible
Related to this second point is the fact that sending your translator a request stating “2000 word legal text to be translated from Spanish into English” does not provide enough information. What type of document is the text: a contract, a court deposition? Who will be reading the text: lawyers, their clients, judges? Why do they need the translation: for information purposes, for legal proceedings? The answers to these questions will dictate how your text is translated and, in some cases, who translates it. If it is not possible for you to answer all these questions ask your translator to take a look at the text and see if they can help you or if they can suggest someone who might be able to.