A little note before we get started: none of the links in this post are affiliate links, nor do I get a commission from any of the authors mentioned. I love reading (and writing!) books about translation; some of my new and recent favorites are Chris Durban’s The Prosperous Translator and Judy and Dagmar Jenner’s The Entrepreneurial Linguist. I really enjoy getting insider tips from people who do the same job that I do, and I think that no matter how long one has been in the business, books like these always have some great suggestions for improvement!
I also think that getting perspectives from outside the translation industry is really important. For example, I think that lots of translators spend most or all of their networking time hanging out with other translators and translation company owners, then complain that they cannot find any direct clients. Reading some non-translation business books is a good first step in expanding your perspective. I’ll give you a few of my favorites and I’m sure that some readers have other suggestions!
- C.J. Hayden’s Get Clients Now is one of my top picks. It’s an ultra-practical guide for freelancers and consultants of all flavors. The book helps you analyze where in the sales and marketing cycle you are stuck: do you not have enough prospective clients? do you get lots of inquiries but too few sales? do you have lots of one-time clients and too few regulars?, etc. You then pick two or three major marketing projects that you want to work on, and ten daily actions that will help you complete those projects. For example, I purchased Hayden’s book a few months ago when I decided that I absolutely had to finish the second edition of my book and get Eve Bodeux’s and my webinar series off the ground. I identified some daily actions such as planning ahead for every day, doing half an hour of research three times a week, spending half an hour a day on the webinar series’ website, identifying two potential sales channels for the book every day, and so on. And hey, one of my major projects is completed and the other is almost there! This book will appeal to people who like concrete action plans and are good at executing them; definitely indispensable if you have a major marketing goal you want to achieve. Just for the record, the second edition of my book had been hanging over my head for two years, and I finally finished it with the help of this book.
- John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Books was my bible when I published the first edition of my book: I’ve written this thing, now I need some people to read it! With about 700 pages (seriously) of tips, there is something for every self-published author in this book. Kremer breaks his ideas down into manageable chunks: how to write a book that people want to read, how to market it online, how to sell to libraries as a self-published author, and so on. With 1001 ideas, obviously not all of them will appeal to everyone, but this book is a fantastic resource.
- During my “aspiring freelancer” days, one of my first business reads was Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer, and I also really like his new book The Well-Fed Self-Publisher. I don’t agree with all of Bowerman’s advice. He’s a huge proponent of cold-calling and I think it just doesn’t fit with most translators’ personalities or those of our clients, but I love Bowerman’s “If I can do it, you can do it” attitude and his emphasis on simple, repeatable actions that you integrate into your marketing plan. In addition, Bowerman gets big points for his willingness to share his own examples: he started out as a salesman for a video dating service (again: seriously) and repackaged himself as a six-figure copywriter within a few years. He also really advocates charging high rates for your services and setting high but achievable income goals. Excellent inspiration here, and his book on self-publishing is well worth a read if you’re an author.
Readers, what’s on your business bookshelves these days?