The Silence of the Agencies …

… who wouldn’t want translators and interpreters to earn a decent living?


No Peanuts! recently received an email from Laura Dempsey, the owner and manager of a relatively new, Ireland-based translation agency, EasyLSP Professional Language Services.

Did we allow agencies to become official Endorsers of the No Peanuts! Movement? Laura wanted to know. And, if so, would we add her agency’s name to the list?

First, just to be clear, No Peanuts! has never had a policy against listing agencies as official Endorsers. In fact, when we first opened our blog and Facebook presence, I personally sent invitations to some 300 agencies, editorial services, and publishers asking them to sign on. I know that some of our other members did the same.

The silence since then has been deafening.

What Laura may or may not have realized was that she holds the distinction of being the very first agency owner to publicly state what ought to be clear to everyone: the No Peanuts! philosophy applies not solely to translators but to the translation industry as a whole. We don’t expect translators to survive on peanuts, and we don’t think other translation-dependent businesses should either.

So where are those businesses? And, more importantly, by not endorsing No Peanuts! what are the vast majority of agencies, publishers, editorial services, and online brokers saying about their commitment to translators?

Why, for example, shouldn’t or TranslatorsCafé.com endorse No Peanuts! What’s stopping publishers from appearing on our list, especially since,  in many European countries, they depend so heavily upon translators for the products they sell? (The figure is nearly 60% of trade books in Italy alone.) Why shouldn’t the American Translators Association or the Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti (Italian Association for Translators and Interpreters) or dozens of other professional associations get on board? Many of their members are already among our Endorsers.

In short, who would be against what No Peanuts! stands for?

Perhaps you might consider No Peanuts! to be Utopian or impractical. Perhaps you think it will never be strong enough to confront the “forces of globalization” (insert dramatic background music here).

But even if that were true, would it hurt anything to declare your support for the principle that professional translators and interpreters deserve to earn a decent living for their work? Even if No Peanuts! failed to persuade a single client of the value of professional translation or to convince a single interpreter to resist underselling his or her services, what harm could come from sustaining a high ideal?

That’s a question agency owners, publishers, and online translation-service brokers ought to be asking themselves. Or, better yet, it’s a question we ought to be asking them before we provide them with the benefit of another minute of our labor.

In the meantime, No Peanuts! invites you to read excerpts of Laura’s frank and inspiring email (which we publish here with her permission). Because if one agency owner can think this way, there’s no reason not to expect it of all of them.


Being a professionally trained and experienced translator myself, I find the decline in “commonly-acceptable” translation prices to be a shame and am trying my best to provide high quality language services (that offer) both a fair price for the translation buyer (and allow me to) pay my translators up to 99% of all profit.

This principle might have been a bad decision from a business point of view, but surely I can at least step up to the industry with a clear conscience. I set up my small translation agency in September last year and now offer over seventy language combinations…. My general approach to pricing is: I ask my translators about their standard or preferred rate, and when sending quotes to my customers I will at all cost push for my translator’s preferred rate, adding a small profit (which also covers) the project management activities that I carry out.

I also ask translators about their minimum rate (the minimum they are prepared to work for) and will never go lower than that, but try to be above their minimum level whenever possible…. I cannot afford to turn many (clients) down at the moment, but I am not prepared to make professionals and in turn the whole industry suffer. However, most of my customers are more than happy with my initial quotes, and they seem not to be chasing the low-cost movement.

Additionally, I do not work with translators who undersell themselves or who present me with minimums (that are too low), and I only work with professional, trained, qualified native-language translators and linguists on all projects…. I believe that the pricing issue within our industry has led many professionals not only to accept bad rates, but also to offer bad rates as a result. This is not sustainable and should at all costs be reversed…. I would like the translators who work for me, and also myself, to be able to be proud of their profession….

I do not know whether or not agencies are able to be listed in your Endorsements page, but if so, I would like to take this opportunity and ask how I can prove to you that my company indeed does support the translator as a professional, a worthy and extremely important factor in our industry.

Laura Dempsey, EasyLSP Professional Language Services


About No Peanuts! for Translators

No Peanuts! supports professional translators & interpreters in demanding & receiving fair pay for their work.
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6 Responses to The Silence of the Agencies …

  1. Lorena Vicente says:

    Thanks for sharing. I think this intro is the key to Laura´s motivation: “Being a professionally trained and experienced translator myself (…)”. She is a translator herself, thus she knows what´s best for us. If you take a look at the “About Us” tags of most big translation agencies, you´ll see Directors/Managers come from the financial/business/management industries, which means they probably don´t care if we want to earn a decent living, they just care about making the biggest possible profit.

  2. Paul W Dixon says:

    Congratulations on your work. The situation in Brazil is really bad, everybody wants a discount on prices that are already low.

  3. malligan says:

    There are unfortunately peanuts for Russian translators again! They don’t understand, what I do at all…but they will not pay much….

  4. Sandra says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing this. I would also like to congratulate you for this powerful movement.

    I learnt about the No Peanuts! Movement when I used to work as a translator. It really made sense to me. Of course I agreed with these ideas. Nowadays I am working in my own translation company and my ideology has not changed. I still support fair rates for translators and for any other professional providers who collaborate with us.

    For us it is difficult to establish fair rates for our providers depending on the country they live in and the combination of languages. Because of that we use the rates statistics from Proz and we offer the average rate to our translators. However, when a new provider registers in our webpage we let them adjust their rates.

    When assigning a project, we look to the quality-price ratio. For us it makes no sense to choose the cheapest inexperienced translator. We would rather choose a fully experienced translator even if that means we need to pay more for an excellent translation quality. That is what our clients deserve and that is what our translators offer to us. We are very proud of our team as we know all our work and success would not be possible without them.

    All the best.
    Sandra G. Alonso
    Project Manager/Translator

  5. It is important to have not just better rates for translators, but also better payment terms. It seems that payment terms of 45, 60 or even 90 days after the completion of work go hand-in-hand with poorer rates. Of course, the better agencies that I deal with also tend to have shorter payment terms.

No Peanuts! doesn't pretend to be a representative democracy. We don't publish comments that denigrate our movement, attack our writers, or show disrespect for translators. All comments must be signed with first/last name and include a verifiable email address.

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