Tag Archives: Life of Editor

Life of a (Rookie) Editor: Making Mistakes

Last month, something happened that I really did not expect to ever happen. I made a mistake. A really big mistake. Don’t ask me why I was so incredulous, I was just feeling like I really had the hang of things at TOKYOPOP.

The mistake was this: somehow the translator’s final script got lettered into a comic instead of MY final script.

In case you don’t know, the scripting process on a manga (for TOKYOPOP, at least) goes translator -> re-writer -> editor. I’m supposed to be the last person who goes over the script and approves it before the layout people conjoin text and art. Somehow the wrong file was sent to the layout people and I got back something that looked like your average scanlation. (No joke. I’ve read enough scanlations and printed manga to know the difference and the difference is large.) It’s not that the translator was doing a bad job, but the point of having a re-writer is to polish the rough patches over and make it sound normal instead of clunky. My job is to refine what the re-writer turns into me further and make sure all the stylistic things I want are in there. (That means, fonts, bolding, italics, etc.)

So basically, I had to re-write the whole entire manga. Except, I couldn’t really do that myself. I had to leave notes for the touch-up people on the entire book and they had to re-letter it. It took me a long time. It took the poor touch-up artist a longer time to fix and there were problems right up until the file date after multiple copy edits.

At first, however, I was freaked out and I couldn’t find a clear way for me to fix it. I asked layout if it could be redone, but their answer was no. So, I sat there, with a copy of the intended script, making notation after notation on the page. I went home for a doctor’s appointment shortly afterward and cried to my mother that they were going to sack  me for making such an awful mistake. I bought a gift basket to apologize to the touch-up artist handling my book. I didn’t know what else to do (and I had a recent discussion with another touch-up artist and close friend about editors being jerks to her, so I felt extra bad.) I was so scared that I wondered whether it would be weird to prostrate myself into a dogeza position to show how sincerely sorry I was for this big awful mess.

But nothing happened. No one pulled me aside to give me a verbal beating or tell me that I was being let go. So I did the only thing I could do: keep working on the book and make it the best damn thing I could manage.

The second worst thing about what happened was that the book was one of my favorite manga of all time. It was a series I started reading in my very early days of fandom and I was ecstatic to learn I’d be editing it (and reading it before anyone else.) So no matter what, I had to make things right. All I could think of is if I ever met the mangaka and explain that I’d fucked up this volume. I’d probably be sobbing on the train ride back to my hotel and everyone on the train would be thinking: what the fuck is this gringo’s problem?

Unfortunately, it was also a very talkative series and a little bit longer than most other manga. I didn’t get to make EVERY final correction I would have liked to make, but no one who reads it is probably going to notice. Despite my overflowing love of that manga, I’m pretty sure only about 100 people will buy it when it comes out. I’m OK with that, as long as I don’t let any of them down as they read. If the talk I had today with the person who copy-edited it is any indication, I might have done a good job yet. She hadn’t read the series before and she was immediately drawn in. It wasn’t even, to me, the most exemplary volume of the series, but since she also said that it seemed I’d done a thorough job, I can die a bit happier inside.

I guess this post has two lessons:

1) You’re going to fuck up. This is life.

2) If you’ve fucked up and you can still fix it somehow, this is the time to be that stereotypical die-hard, perfectionist editor and no clunky phrasing shall survive your red pen.

If you go through number one and apply number two to it as needed, you’ll come out feeling not as bad about it.

Oh man, I am so happy to still have my job. o_o

A few related links:

Being thankful for working in the manga industry, especially in this day and age.

A little bit more about being a comic editor.

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Life of A (Rookie) Editor: The Privilege of Being Paid

A few days ago someone commented on my Ten REALLY GOOD Ways and Not Steal Manga post with a lot of strong opinions about the suggestions I posted. I won’t go into detail about everything this person said, but at the end they made a comment that said scanlations are of better quality because scanlators post the manga out of the goodness of their hearts and professional manga publishing people are only after the money.

Um, what?

But instead of getting angry at this commentator (because that comment really hurt my feelings, to be truthful), I want to discuss how much of a privilege it is to be able to get paid for doing something I love so much.

Why is it a privilege? Well, for one, it’s not my company so I am grateful that I was asked to be a freelancer for TOKYOPOP. There are so many other interns who’ve wanted jobs just as badly, but I’m one of only two people that they’ve hired out of intern positions in recent times. Yeah, that’s something to be a little proud about! But I could lose the work I get from them if I don’t work hard to make every manga I work on as perfect as possible. So I work hard. For pennies.

That’s right, for pennies. Now, I’m not blaming TOKYOPOP here. I *wish* I could get paid more, but they’re also not in the best place financially and I am a rookie editor at best, so the pay is what it is. I take it because I’d rather do this than chase down jobs  at Starbucks or McDonald’s. But then I would be working at McDonalds and how the hell do you think that would make a recent college graduate feel even if they were making twice as much money a month than at a degree-related job? Not good. What the hell did 4+ years of tuition just  get wasted on? So I feel lucky to be working actually related to my degree straight out of college.

But at the same time, I am pretty stressed about money. If I had a few more clients, I’d be considerably less stressed about money. Am I actively pursuing new clients so that I may make more money? Yes, but I am being very stupid about it. How so? I’m only pursuing other manga publishers. Because I really want to work on nothing but manga. I have been so spoiled from working with TOKYOPOP and iSeeToon. When I meet other people and they ask what I do, I get the most awesome responses when I tell them. All the manga that I buy are now tax-deductible. Excuse my language, but how fucking awesome is that to me? So fucking awesome.

You see, I’ve only been an editor (internships included) for a little over a year, but I’ve been a manga fan for about 10 years now. When I learned I could get a job working in manga, my reaction wasn’t really a “woohoo, I get to make money off of manga” so much as a “woohoo, I can do something I really love for the rest of my life.” The only part about getting paid that really helped was to convince my skeptical mother that my hobby had become legitimate.

Now, I don’t know the life stories of everyone in the manga industry, but I can tell you that most people I know don’t do it because they hate manga and they only want the moola involved. As far as I know (and I’ve heard this from so many different people), you just do not get into this industry because the pay is good. In fact, I hear people saying the pay is shitty (and/or the fans make it a shitty job sometimes) all the time. I’ve never once heard someone say the pay is good, so why are all these people in the industry to begin with? Surely they have enough skills to find similar, better paying jobs elsewhere. But you don’t see them actively talking about how they’re trying to find something better to do with their lives than manga publishing. Why? Well, probably because they’ve got some deep, affectionate feelings about manga too. If they were any other way, why have I drooled over manga with so many different people in the industry?  I really fangirled (or boyed) with a lot of these people at some point or another. Why would you do that if you weren’t actively interested in the medium? I cannot come to any other conclusion than these people are passionate about manga.

If we industry people were really so obsessed with money, I think all of us would try a lot harder to find other jobs and leave all the hard work to the scanlators. Getting paid to do our jobs is really just the icing on the cake.

For everyone who isn’t convinced by this because manga prices are so damn high these days, let me explain why this is. Manga in Japan is cheap because they have a more open culture about reading comic books. Their market can afford to print 3 million plus copies of One Piece because there are 3 million plus people in Japan who will buy those copies of One Piece. There are not 3 million plus people in the US who will do the same, so if you want manga at Japanese prices, you have to work hard either at finding deals or encouraging more and more people read manga so that manga publishers here can make prices lower and still pay their employees. So if your manga is $12.99 or higher that’s because the publisher knows that you and maybe 2,000 other people are going to buy it and those extra copies no one bought are going to sit around in their warehouse forever. If your manga is $8.99 it’s because the publisher knows that way more than 2,000 people are going to buy it so there are going to be fewer unsold copies that cost them a lot of money. I hope that makes sense.

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Life of a (Rookie) Editor: It’s Not Easy Being Green

Just as a preface, there might not be another Webcomics Wednesday for awhile as I’ve run out of general ideas. Perhaps going to Alternative Press Expo in a few weeks will help me pick up some new material, but the Wednesday after the convention I’m having my gall bladder removed. It’ll be a fairly minor surgical procedure, but I will be staying at the hospital overnight and might be too loopy to blog for a few days afterward. I’ll try to coordinate some guest posts to keep you folks entertained.

Meanwhile, it’s been ages since I posted about how my life as a manga editor is going. As a warning, this post is going to sound a little dismal, but do not think I’m giving up. That is absolutely not the case.

I love being a manga editor. I really really love that part. The difficult part is being a freelancer. I don’t make a lot of money yet and when I talked to another freelancer friend who works in manga (albeit a different, more labor-intensive position), I got super-jealous to find out what she made. I basically realized then that I’m probably never going to make enough money to survive off freelance editing alone, at least not in the long run. If I were to get a full-time position, that would be another story.

It’s really tough being in my position, especially in this economy. Like most people my age, I’ve graduated college at a horrible time and jobs are hard to come by. Most of my friends who aren’t still in college or  have already managed to wrangle themselves something cannot not find a better job than pouring coffee at Starbucks most of the time. Very few of us have been able to build enough experience to easily get jobs and many jobs want lots of experience these days.

Making things worse for myself, specifically, the manga industry is a really niche industry that’s been hit hard recently. Go!Comi and Aurora have folded, CMX shut down, Viz had massive layoffs and Del Rey Manga just kind of folded and passed the baton to Kodansha USA. There aren’t a lot of places left for me to find work, even on a freelance basis. There are so many things I’d like to do, start my own publishing business or my own comic book store. But with horror stories happening left and right, this doesn’t feel like the right time. Not to mention, I’m not experienced enough to handle either at the moment.

That’s one of the reasons why I’d love a full time job. I want to experience how a publisher works more before I start a business. Either that or I’d love to get a job at a bookstore in order to better understand how they work. (But I can’t do that until after my surgery… maybe bookstores will be hiring for the Christmas rush then!)

I’ll stop complaining now. I’m still working on ways to make a better living, it’ll just take a little time and doing, like most things do, and I’ve got the rest of my life to do it!

On a more positive note, I’d like to introduce my second client, who will be debuting their first line this month, iSeeToon. They are based in Seoul, Korea and will be publishing webtoons for the iPhone and iPad (manwha/webcomics that are run through a sort of flash player is the best way I can describe it.) Their first webtoon will be Magician, which I did the English adaption for and edited. I hope you guys will check out their blog (just click the link on their name) and try out the webtoons when they come online.

On that note, I should probably get back to doing some other iSeeToon work so I will leave you with a link to the ANNCast I was on last week. Thanks to Zac Bertschy for having me.

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: Job Security

As a freelancer I have a lot of worries about my job security. And a lot of other things. But that’s normal for freelancers, or so I’m told.

What I wish I didn’t have to worry about is my area of specialty potentially becoming obsolete. If I could work solely for manga publishers, I would be one happy freelance editor, so I’d rather pursue those jobs rather than something in another field. Lucky for me, I don’t have to worry as much anymore because my (current and potential) employers are beginning to fight back against the one of the biggest things holding their success back: SCANLATIONS.

Now, I’m not totally against scanlations. As Erica Friedman of Ozaku pointed out scanlations were a solution to a problem. Manga lovers didn’t have enough manga on the market and there were plenty of series that weren’t sure to see a licene. But now, timelier releases, free digital manga and a large, diverse amount of manga titles are more prevalent. Manga aggregators take the top spot on Google instead of the legitimate manga sites and now our solution has turning into a problem, especially since manga doesn’t get taken down when a manga is licensed anymore. I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that those scanlations are hurting sales when three companies were shut down and another one laid off nearly half of their employees in the last month!

Because of the coalition formed by Japanese and American manga publishers, manga aggregators will hopefully be wiped out or forced to go legitimate, like Manga Helpers is attempting to do. (Honestly, considering their previous forays into legitimacy, I smell BS.) If the coalition is smart enough, they’ll only topple the aggregation sites and maybe a few of the larger scanlation circles that put out new chapters of some of the top licensed titles out there. But there will still be a few small scanlation circles doing the unlicensed or the never-to-be-licensed manga that’s one of the best things about scanlations in the first place: the unique gems that we’ll never see (or won’t see yet) on the bookstore shelves.

And I’ll still have a job because my employer won’t go under from too many fans who love manga too much to pay for it!

For a little bit more on how scanlations hurt not just publishers, but the creators themselves, read this blog post by Helen McCarthy.

Just to keep you updated on what I’ve been working on lately:

August:

Junjo Romantica vol. 12

Karakuri Odette vol. 4

Gakuen Heaven -Endo- Calling You

Kyo Kara Maoh vol. 7

Lagoon Engine vol. 7

I’ll also be in Georgia until next week visiting my boyfriend’s family, so my apologies for late replies to comments or on Twitter. I’ll be busy seeing Atlanta for the first time!

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: The Joy of Being Published

Have I talked about how awesome seeing your name on a published piece of work is? If not, then let me explain the joy…

People instantly have more respect for you. I am not kidding. Tell them you’re a published writer/editor/artist/whatever, then somehow you get street cred. Even aspiring writers and artists admire people with actually published work. It’s a big accomplishment. And when you think about it, it really is, getting ANYTHING published takes a lot of time and money from somewhere. People admire scientists and other non-writerly types with major published studies in some related journal they’ve probably never heard of. YOU have something to show for yourself. You’re not so hackjob that no one’s heard of because obviously someone published YOUR thing.

I won’t lie, it’s a huge ego boost. It’s hard to avoid getting a big head.  After all, having people read stuff with MY name on it is what got me into journalism in high school, made me decide to be a journalism major and eventually led me to going into the manga industry. Sure, there were a lot of other reasons like hating my high school Spanish teacher and really really loving manga, but seeing my name on a published book keeps me there no matter what. I could compare it to ecstasy, but that would be overdoing it. It just makes you feel like you’ve got something to really really brag about AND it’s your job.

Seriously, though, even my MOM wants to read manga now. And show it off to her friends. If you asked me 10 years ago if hell would freeze over before my mother cracked open a manga, I would have said “YES” with no hesitation and maximum emphasis.

Not quite enough yet for a new banner, but it feels so awesome.

Making the joy of being published even greater this week, Fruits Basket Fanbook Banquet got onto the New York Times Bestseller’s List.

I also found my name in Aria vol. 5. Ironically, my first name was spelled with only one ‘l’ (which is more common in Latin American countries where Daniela is a popular name, but it’s not the way my mom named me, you know.)  Before you ask me why I didn’t copy edit the credits page, let me tell you that I’m fairly certain that it was misspelled after I finished my internship and therefore I wasn’t there to catch it.

Oh, and I got to work on Hetalia volume 1! (I loved it.)

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: New Books!

With all the craziness happening in my life as of late, I forgot to mention that I found three new books with my name on them! Yaaaay!

So if you’d like to indirectly support me, or at least let Tokyopop know that the stuff I work on is awesome, please buy these books!

April:

Songs to Make You Smile by Natsuki Takaya (4/27)

Karakuri Odette vol 3 by Julietta Suzuki (4/27)

NG Life vol 5 by Mizuho Kusanagi (4/27)

My bookshelf is growing!

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