When you visit your local bookstore, do you look for the cheapest possible book? When considering your next conference, do you choose the one with the lowest registration fee? Of course not: we all choose these things based on a variety of criteria. The most important of these is expertise. Does the author know her stuff? Will the participants be involved in engaging discussions that bring new insights to the scholarship?
Too often those seeking to have scholarship translated and made accessible to a wider audience fail to understand the associated costs of quality work. Translators who are scholars in their own right are uniquely qualified to make valuable research available to new audiences and foster international conversations on new methods and discoveries.
Like you, they participate in conferences and never leave the bookstore empty-handed. They maintain memberships in professional associations (often for both their own academic discipline and the field of translation). Unlike many in traditional academic positions, most of them do not have expense accounts, and many live in places in which the local libraries are not as comprehensive as your university library, especially not if they live in the country of their source rather than target language. They have to cover their costs of living and their own academic interests with the fees they charge. Yes, you might find someone without their terminal degree or academic experience who would cost less, but the adage is true: you get what you pay for.
There is good news, though. You can borrow the new Brill compilation from the library, apply for a grant for the next round of your research, and there are a variety of options for funding of academic scholarship, as well. There are also a few things you can do to prepare your manuscript for translation so that the translator can work more efficiently, like providing the proper information for full footnote citations in the standard format of the foreign language. These things help the translator to calculate a price for your translation that is fair for everyone.
Having a skilled translator or editor work on your text does more than render your ideas in a foreign language. No one (with the possible exception of your dissertation advisor) will read your text this closely! While skilled translators will tactfully read over the typos that escaped you after the fifth cup of coffee, they will not hesitate to point out inconsistencies or vague claims as they work. You can rest assured that rather than getting “lost in translation,” your argument will gain in terms of clarity and eloquence. It comes with a price, but it’s a good bargain.