Galateo Per Traduttori:
Regole e segreti per un rapporto di successo con le agenzie di traduzione

reviewed By Giada Gerotto

Galateo Per Traduttori: Regole e segreti per un rapporto di successo con le agenzie di traduzione (Italian for A Translator’s Etiquette: Rules and Secrets for a Successful Rapport with Translation Agencies) is the latest joint publication by Marco Cevoli and Sergio Alasia, managing director and owner, respectively of Qabiria, a language consulting company based in Barcelona, Spain.

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Qabiria Studio self-published the book in September 2022 and it is currently only available in Italian, though it provides a wealth of information that’s useful for speakers of any language. It’s on sale via Qabiria’s e-shop and also available at some major online retailers, both as an ebook and in print.

This 130-page collection of best practices for translators holds clarity as a guiding principle from the very beginning.

With a fairly self-explanatory title, A Translator’s Etiquette comes along with an equally clear-cut introduction. Building on their long-standing career, the management team of Qabiria is putting their experiences both as clients and as suppliers to the service of professionals in the translation industry.

The intro closes with a simple promise: Leveraging the suggestions in the book will help the reader achieve long-standing and fruitful business relationships with translation agencies.

The book compiles the materials the authors offered as part of an elearning course for the European School of Translation, a translation school based in Italy.

The book is divided into two sections — the first focuses mainly on making a good impression, and the latter half focuses on living up to that first impression.

Getting started on the right foot when cooperating with agency clients is the first section’s focus. The second provides tips and tricks to follow when a cooperative relationship is already in place, to build customer loyalty and make the relationship beneficial on both sides.

The authors set out to explain why somebody would choose working with a translation agency over a direct customer — that is, the benefits of working with agencies. To be fair, the book does, however, provide an in-depth review of the cons of working with agencies as well. An overview of the diverse language service provider industry, from huge MLVs to tiny mom-and-pops, brings the reader to the meaty bits: setting your application up for success, taking — or not taking — translation tests, and making money.

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The second half of the book deals with the most valued soft and hard skills in the market. This part could quite easily be renamed “How to Become Your Agency’s Favorite,” as it provides a wealth of useful information for getting on your client’s good side. The words you would bump into most often throughout these final pages of the book are communication, flexibility, communication, organization, communication. And communication. Absolutely no doubt on what seems to matter the most out there.

Feel like you have a picture of Galateo Per Traduttori now?

This book could not be further from some of the saccharine self-help books and empty motivational talks about the human side of business that we so often see in this sphere. Instead of the shallow, inspirational mumbo-jumbo we hear so much of these days, Galateo Per Traduttori provides actionable and practical steps toward furthering one’s career in the language services industry — the authors frequently refer to this book as a “manual,” but don’t just take their word for it. Reading through the pages of Galateo Per Traduttori, it becomes clear that this book actually is an invaluable resource for novice and seasoned translators alike — “manual” is perhaps one of the most appropriate words to describe this work.

You can find step-by-step processes for organizing your projects, guidelines on certain red flags to discourage you from working with a given translation agency (bonus tip from me: If an agency has two or more red flags, run for the hills), and even a ranking of the must-have skills to become a successful professional translator.

In short, the book absolutely lives up to the expectation that the authors set in their introduction: championing productivity, organization and entrepreneurship in an industry that’s historically been permeated with a somewhat naïve sentimentalism.

Perhaps the one area in which this book falls flat is also one of its strengths. The book’s reliance on experiential information — while certainly a strength — turns experience into rules. This lends the book an encouraging yet perhaps overly soothing quality, potentially giving newbies — or even to professional translators who haven’t yet found their place in the world — a look at the industry through rose-colored lenses.

Now here’s a final tip for the readers from me: Go through this book and make it yours. Adapt the content to what suits you, become a productivity champion, and remember the industry is so diverse that individual paths may largely vary from one another. Learn to know the industry and find your place in it. Enjoy the journey.

And I know what you may be thinking after that last paragraph — for somebody who laments the naïvely sentimentalist content permeating this industry, I sure do sound a bit like a motivational speaker myself.

Giada Gerotto is a community manager and knowledge manager for Creative Words.

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