Why you should hire a translator

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post written by Derek Sivers….

I can’t remember how I learned about Derek Sivers (pictured above), but it wasn’t from his fame as founder and former president of CD Baby, an online CD store for independent musicians. (CD Baby became the Internet’s largest seller of independent music, which Sivers sold for $22 million in 2006.)

I learned about him as a blogger and writer. I found his book Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur to be both entertaining and useful and I’ve enjoyed his blog, whenever he takes the time to post (which is not nearly often enough, in my view.)

A blog post of his this week struck a high-water mark in common sense under the headline: “To hone your writing, hire a translator.” Sivers argued that translators charge $10/sentence and that being conscious of that cost will make you a better writer. Here’s how he phrased it:

Long ago, I had my old site translated into ten languages. Because each sentence cost $10, and each paragraph cost $50, I learned to chop every unnecessary word. If you can communicate the same idea with fewer words, it’s more likely to be read and understood.

Sivers understands that what captures your attention captures your life. And isn’t it interesting how the cost of paying for something makes you take it a whole lot more seriously? Chop out those unnecessary words! You don’t need them.