We started ARTLIT – The Romanian Association of Literary Translators in 2014, from a shared frustration that our fees were very low (the average was about 2,5 euros/2000 characters), the contracts were unfair and sometimes simply disregarded. We felt a need for a new, more proactive association. It took us almost a year to make all the necessary paperwork and get all approvals from the authorities. Our goals are to organize this profession, defend our rights and, most importantly, raise fees.
Admission of members:
The basic requirement is that applicants have at least one literary or scientific translation published or about to be published (having a signed contract with a publisher), literary translation also including plays, screenplays or magazine articles. Applicants must submit an application form and agree to respect the Association’s ethical code. There is no quality review of applicants and no different levels of membership. All members have equal vote rights.
Some of the challenges we faced in the early years:
Making members pay – we send a reminder twice a year and sometimes individual reminders, because one of the most common reasons is that members simply forget to transfer the membership fee.
Too great expectations – it can be difficult for members to understand that progress will be slow and that getting involved in the Association’s activities is vital to its development.
Given that we are all volunteers in the association, it’s hard to maintain a constant energy and good spirit.
What we are good at so far:
Visibility: we managed to organize interesting workshops and events with no expenses at all, relying only on generous people and institutions we know.
Sharing information/ Raising awareness: about fees, negotiations and good/bad practices from various publishers; we discovered it is of great importance to share information.
Patience: We learned that change is very slow and you need to wait so that the message of the association can spread organically.
If we were to start again, I think I would have liked us to be better in fund raising so that we could afford paying at least a part time job for someone to help us with writing content for the site, organising the events and keeping the correspondence with our members or potential members. I know now about how much energy a volunteer translator has and I also know that we need to have constant activity.
One of the achievements is that our members got to know what a fair contract should look like and therefore, have become more daring when they negotiate their contracts. A lot of us have become aware that accepting very low fees and abusive contractual terms is doing damage not only to themselves individually but also to the profession as a whole.
Lavinia Braniște – founding member and former president of ARTLIT