Book Review: ‘Balance Your Words’ by Sara Colombo

Given that I’m a big fan of Sara’s Balance Your Words blog, it seemed a no-brainer for me to try to get hold of her new book. Subtitled ‘Stepping in the translation industry’ – which gives you an indication of what is to be found within – the book is based on material from her blog (alongside updates, amendments and completely new sections) as it chronicles one translator’s journey into the world of freelancing – and it’s quite a journey.

It is often said that there is no set path to follow into the translation industry, and Sara’s book is just one further illustration of that point; her transformation from a keen university student into a respected professional encompasses ventures into volunteering, nightmare interviews, battling the contrasting challenges of working life in different countries and the endless search for the perfect work-life balance.

Balance

For newcomers to the translation industry, the book provides an excellent glimpse into some of the industry’s plus points, perils and pitfalls from an extremely practical point of view, providing valuable insights into common issues and how to avoid them. Yet beyond that, it also has plenty to offer to established professionals looking for ways to boost their mood, productivity or working results – Sara stresses her belief in the importance of regular exercise and her passion for yoga (while something that does not interest me personally), with all of the perceived benefits that it offers on both a personal and professional level, provides food for thought for freelancers looking to address their own work-life balance.

One stand-out chapter from a personal level was Sara’s perspective on the state of the economy in Italy and the tough conditions (such as the poor client-translator relation) that a freelancer will face when attempting to make a living there. This honest and direct take on the realities of the situation was refreshing yet grim, a sombre account to put my own situation into perspective.

On a slightly negative note, the edition I received (I believe an update is on the way) contained a fair few typos which, as well as proving quite an annoyance at first, came across as slightly careless given the tendency for our profession to place so much importance on linguistic accuracy and with a target audience made up of linguists alert to such errors. However, once I had managed to quieten the pedantic grammarian living in my head, the unique phrasing and the clear development of characteristic writing tics come to represent a welcome part of this journey we are undertaking, ultimately adding a certain sense of charm to the experience.

Overall, Balance Your Words: Stepping in the translation industry proved to be an ideal travel companion – its light, interesting content, its unique journey through the eyes of one translator, and the pertinent topics covered make it well worth a look. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘Balance Your Words’ by Sara Colombo

  1. Sara Colombo says:

    I am glad you liked it, Joseph! The writing process has been challenging but very interesting and I am sorry to say…I missed some typos because I was too focussed and…well…quite nervous about the project. As you have pointed out, typos can be annoying. This is why I decided to re-edit the book and create a fresher version. Which, by the way, might lead to the addition of a couple of new pages. 🙂 Thank You for the honest and clear review, it means a lot! Sara

    • jaltranslation says:

      You’re very welcome Sara! I feel bad for being negative in any way when I really enjoyed the book, but at the same time I wanted to share my entire experience. Good luck with the update, I’m sad to miss out on these exciting new pages! 🙂

    • jaltranslation says:

      Maybe I should reconsider… I find the concepts very interesting but I’ve never fancied giving it a go – I’ve always been more of a football guy but maybe that will change one day 🙂

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