Are there legit translators on Fiverr?


You´ve probably read some blog or other article telling you either what a scam or what a godsend Fiverr is to get all kinds of jobs done for cheap.

The truth, as often, is neither black nor white. Yes, there are scammers, yes, you can get great quality for a, sometimes much, lower price than elsewhere.

Being a translator, working on Fiverr since about a year now, I´ve seen and observed quite a few things and here´s my distillation of that into tips I´d give my best friend if they were an author and wanted to try their luck with Fiverr – the first three my top 3 recommendations for any seller (because if they already fail this ‘general vetting’ there´s probably not much sense in going ahead with them when you as an author need a reliable person to take care of your brain children), the others are specific for translators:

.1. Rather spend some time finding the right seller right away than spend more time later, plus nerves, plus money, to struggle with the wrong one and yet spending some time to find the next one;

If you´re the systematic type: use the search function; if you´re the spontaneous type just browse the category and drift from profile to profile. Make use of the favorite-function – heart the gigs that seem promising to you – if you find many, you can make favorite-categories, so you can group and organize them better

.2. Check everything you can about them: their profile text, their gig description(s), their profile photo and gig photos (right click and google to see if they probably are genuine or ‘borrowed’ from the internet, that happens a lot), their reviews (obviously), whether the country their profile card shows aligns with their local time which you can see if you push the ‘Contact Me’ button on their seller´s page (not so obvious and often surprising)

.3. Contact them. Points 1-2 are good for a start, but by no means is it a safe bet that a seller who passed your ‘vetting’ is the right one – the spelling and grammar of their gig descriptions are impeccable? They may have paid someone to write it for them, or, worse, copied it from another seller who spent time and effort on it.

  • Their profile text sounds great and like just the person you want to work with? Again, they may have stolen it from someone else (happened to me, happened to a lot of sellers on Fiverr).

  • If you contact them, chances that you´ll read a text they actually have written themselves, are higher. Ask something they probably can´t answer with ‘canned responses’, something they need to answer in their own words.

  • Ask them if they are familiar with your genre, if they are okay with messaging you whenever they encounter something they aren´t sure about rather than simply translating it ‘somehow’, or anything else you might find important in working together with a translator. Ask something that can´t just be answered with yes or no.

  • Don´t be afraid to contact several sellers (but write individual texts, so the system won´t think your messages are spam and block them!) and to compare, to find one you really feel comfy with. After all, you are not looking for someone to translate cookie recipes but for someone who will breathe life into your story and characters in a different language or who at least won´t make your readers throw their kindle into a corner in despair and rate your book with 1 star.

.4. Talk about the terms.

The seller´s gig page should give you a clear idea about the price, at least if you are going to give them a Word document, PDFs and other formats usually require the seller to spend (sometimes much) additional time and the price their gig shows usually covers only Word documents.

Of course, if you find a seller you think you´d like to work with but find their prices too high (gigs most of the time will indicate the prices for e. g. 250, 500 and 1000 words) and want to have them translate a whole book, you can try to ask for a better price for, say, 50K words, but it´s not advisable to offer much less than the price the gig has, because prices on Fiverr usually already are low for what you get (at least when you find a decent seller and not end up with one who only throws your oevre into Google translate) and sellers often enough get real low-ball offers and the ones among them who are good and get enough fair offers too, might spontaneously say no even before you could go up to the price the gig ‘officially’ has.

Extremely low prices are usually no good sign, fair or high prices can but don´t have to be a good sign, it depends a lot on how successful you were at point 3.

Talk about the delivery time. Especially sellers who are good and thus tend to have regular buyers and full order books, might not be able to deliver as fast as you´d like it. For my own target language, for instance, common estimations by professionals assume a translation quota of +/- 2000 words per workday, if done well. Of course, there are sellers who work more than 8 hours a day and all weekend,but still, go figure what it means, when a seller offers 1000 words in 12 hours for $5. Either they are new and looking for their first reviews, or they live somewhere with extreme low COL, or they don´t even speak the language you want them to translate into and just throw it into Google Translate, or a combination of some or all if it.

They might not be able to work on your order all the time if it´s a whole book, as they might lose regular clients whom they translate smallish things for, so be realistic with the timeframe you are asking for. If you want someone to exclusively work on your book, you´d better be prepared to offer a better price.

Usually, translators on Fiverr work chapter by chapter, which can be a bit bothersome, but also a good thing, both for ‘Sellers’ as well as ‘Buyers’ on Fiverr. I won´t go into the details here, but you probably can imagine if you think about it. Either way, Fiverr only allows for a maximum ‘gig’ duration of 30 days, so, unless you can find a seller who will agree to work non-stop on your book only (and even then, of course, it depends on the length of your book), this maximum gig duration is kind of a ‘natural limit’ – whether you and your seller break up the work into three thirds to be delivered within 30 days each, into one chapter per week or 30 days or whatever, is left to you.

Don´t forget to talk about any details that matter to you – will you have the translation proofread by someone else or would you prefer the translator to do a final proofreading, before you are going to convert and publish the book, does the translator expect to be mentioned in the credits in any way, is it probable that the translator will have to do some research along the way and if so, what kind and are they prepared to do that as part of their work, or will it be considered an ‘extra’ to pay separately… all this depends on your specific case, of course, so I´ll leave it at this.

.5. If you feel you found a translator you´d be comfortable to work with and are fine with their terms respectively they with yours, it´s time for a small sample order.
It´s a good idea to first order just a short sample, so you can see (or, ideally, check or have checked) if you found a legit seller who does what their gig says they do, if they really are a native speaker, if you like their style etc.

If you´re not really sure about the seller, maybe just order however many words they offer for the lowest possible price on Fiverr, incidentally :wink: $5,

(attention, it will cost you a bit more, which is not the seller trying to scam you but Fiverr´s fees, which pay for the platform you and the seller uses – your seller by the way pays a 20% fee so for a $5 order they only get $4, depending on where they live, even less, because PayPal or/and their bank may charge them for the conversion of $ into their local currency. BTW, it´s advisable to read (the really easy readable and not too long, promise) Fiverr´s ToS and their ‘Help-pages’ before starting your career as a Fiverr buyer, which will answer a lot of questions you will have and may spare you future issues.)

if you are reasonably sure about your chosen seller already and want to see more, of course, you can make your first order 10 pages or even a chapter, whatever you want to invest in the ‘final check’.

If you aren´t sure yet and have several translators shortlisted, you could test the most promising ones by ordering the same short and cheap sample text from all of them and comparing their work (if you can or know or are willing to pay someone who can), and check out their modus operandi, communication and chemistry with you…

It all really depends on how important what things are to you and how long and close and often you may want to work with a translator, how much you want to invest upfront to not have any nasty surprises and so on.

Finally, while there may be quite a few possible pitfalls, Fiverr gives you quick and easy and uncomplicated access to translators, and other sellers, you may also need for your books, in all corners of the world, who do wonderful jobs and are absolutely nice gals and guys too, and a pleasure to work with. You just need to find the right one(s) for you.

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