Comic Books Magazine

20 Things I Learned From The Manga Advice Series

Posted on the 25 April 2014 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

I guess this is the only way to celebrate finishing this project

1) Just in case you might have missed it: in a two month span I ended up talking to people in the manga industry:

  • Advice on Manga Lettering, From Manga Letterers
  • Advice on Manga Translating, From Manga Translators
  • Advice on Manga Editing, From Manga Editors
  • Advice on Manga Adapting, From Manga Adapters

This post is to reflect on what I learned from starting this series. It’s broken down into two sections: the part where I got in touch with people and they share their thoughts, and what manga stuff I actually learned from this project. If you guys learned anything, you’ll get your chance to sound off in the comments below.

So, let’s keep going!

What I Learned From Working on The Project

2) I should have gotten in contact with the publishers. As in, when I originally started this project, I had the bright idea of going through most of my manga series in my bookshelf and look at the credits to find any translators, editors, etc. As I’ll explain shortly, it was fraught with problems. So it only makes sense that when I emailed the general email accounts of certain publishers I actually got in touch with people I probably didn’t think I could. I ended up doing that for editors and adapters. Man, now I personally wonder what the hell I was thinking looking at the back of the manga so much? Now maybe I wouldn’t have gotten in contact with everyone, but it sure beats what I was doing.

3) Man it’s hard to find info on these guys. Which, sure, I guess they don’t have to have their own personal website or easy way to contact them. But I was disappointed that I couldn’t find them. When you do a standard search you’ll see the works they’ve worked on, or for other positions you might not. That’s about it. I was fortunate to find a few plus get some help to find some before I got in contact with the publishers.

The only reason I’m disappointed is because they all hold a wealth of information that not a lot of people know about. And hey, if you have any questions about their work on a series and stuff, you can go to them. As long as you’re respectful and ask good questions, they’ll be willing to help and share. Speaking of respectful…

4) They seem pretty respectful and cool overall. Well, as far as I can tell. They could have easily just said no, especially since for some they could reveal something negative about their company. And well, I did get no response from some, and got a response that did imply it might be something negative or can’t be shared due to company policy (and of course got some late!!!). That was few and far between though. Whether it was the two week lead time (For the most part I gave everyone two weeks, but for translation I think I flubbed on that one and set a deadline) or they just had the time to respond, doesn’t matter. They answered it seemingly honestly and with great thought. Though apparently I have to be careful next time:

@OrganizationASG So I was kind of hoping someone would say something outrageous and provocative, but it was all pretty reasonable.

— Ben Applegate (@benapplegate) March 30, 2014

@OrganizationASG I guess Carl Horn came closest with his comments on piracy, but I still agreed with everything he said.

— Ben Applegate (@benapplegate) March 30, 2014

@OrganizationASG Next time I'LL be the troll. :)

— Ben Applegate (@benapplegate) March 30, 2014

Editors these days have no shame!!!

5) Overall, I wish I asked everyone the same questions. What I mean by that is I wish I had planned the questions a lot better. Initially I did plan on seeing reader response to the letterers post and seeing what would happen there. Let’s just say when C brought up how to get into manga professionally, I didn’t actually consider it. Or maybe I thought I did, but not really. Then of course came the feedback from the letterers themselves, especially to question #3. I axed that question for a reason, though maybe one day I’ll just do a separate post asking these guys their biggest mistakes.

Assuming they won’t charge me millions for even asking.

What I Learned From The Manga Articles 

6) Before that, big thanks to: Annaliese Christman, Abby Lehrke, Sabrina Heep, Melanie, April Brown, Kameron, Allen, Abigail Blackman, Amanda Haley, Simona Stanzani, Adrienne Beck, Alethea & Athena Nibley, Dan Luffey, Lilly Akabe, Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, Lindley Warmington, Pancha Diaz, Carl Horn, Ben Applegate, Hope Donovan, Rachelle Donatos Lipp, John Bae, Lianne Sentar, Ysabet MacFarlane, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, Yoko Tanigaki, & Jane Lui.

If this totally feels like the acknowledgements section of your favorite novel than it totally is and you’ll just have to accept it. Now let’s move on.

7) Clearly, if you want to break into the manga industry, join Digital Manga Guild. It’s pretty clear you can break into the industry with those guys, whether the quality of the work is questionable or not. Even scanlators are welcome! Which isn’t a bad thing for some, but probably a bad thing for others. At least, that’s what I sense. Anyways, if you really want to be a letterer, translator, and editor, go check out the site and go from there.

8) You should also be a letterer. There apparently seems to be a lack of or more of a need for those who would like to letterer in the manga industry. So that might be something to keep in mind, even if it can be boring and stuff. Also, if you want to become a letterer at Yen Press, remember to email them your interest at yenpress at hbgusa dot com.

9) LEARN. JAPANESE. I mean, I already figured that you have to learn Japanese to work in this business, but it’s a requirement to learn some sort of Japanese. Hiragana, Katakana, the language itself, etc, you can’t work here without increasing your skills there.

Ok I say that like it’s morbid and true, but the advice series proved you don’t have to learn it for certain positions. BUT IT’D BE EXTREMELY HELPFUL.

10) Also will help to learn Photoshop and InDesign. This is basically the sentiment I got from every manga advice series. Have multiple skills, find a way to be helpful aside from what you’re supposed to do. This basically speeds things up and makes everything run efficiently. And learning how to use Photoshop and InDesign is a great asset.

11) Oh, and yes, quickness is appreciated. Because you gotta go fast…gotta go fast…brb I’m retiring for even trying to link this here I’m sorry!!!

(But no, seriously, if you’re quick, you get more work.)

11) Japanese publishers are like your parents. I mean, literally. You’re born. You end up getting babied for a while. Then you grow up, and before you know it, you get to set out on your own and make your own decisions. The problem is some parents get attached and want to make sure you’re safe, and before you know it, you get nagged on everything, like how late you’re staying out and them hoping to call you at least every two weeks, and all that great stuff parents can do.

In this case, the JP publishers own the rights to most manga (sometimes it’s the authors). They baby it by marketing it in their own country, and for about a year or so, all is good. Then comes publishers from other countries calling to license the title because it’s either popular or they think it will sell, or in this case, your baby’s all grown up. It’s time for it to set out on its own and do some good.

But unfortunately, just about everything has to be checked. Almost everything. Even the smallest of issues it seems. I’m certain there are great relationships between most of the publishers, so in a sense it’s not nearly as dramatic as I’m making it out to be. But I wonder if there wasn’t so much handholding on certain things would the series come out faster? Would it be more faithful to the original? There are a lot of questions to ask here, but chances are I’d hear that as something under the table.

12) There’s a 3 to 1 ratio of there being fans of manga actually working in the industry. This is merely a guess, and doubly so since I haven’t talked to everyone in the industry, but it’s a safe bet that there are fans of manga actually working on manga. There will always be those who aren’t, but there is. There’s a perception, especially when publishers and the people working with the publisher can be very negative when shouting down scanlations, that they’re not fans or they don’t know how I want it, etc. But they are fans. But they also have to deal with working in a business. And that unfortunately can be the difference between getting a manga licensed and not getting licensed.

13) This can be a full time job it seems. It just depends on how you manage your budget and how much work you get. And it definitely depends on what position since–

14) Adapters/Rewriters are on the outs. Harsh, but yeahhhh, it ain’t looking good for them. I think the only surprise is that Crunchyroll has adapters it seems, but otherwise, you need to be doing more than adapting to work in the manga industry and be able to make money.

15) Still need to brush up on your English. Even when you think you know enough, it can sometimes be best to keep practicing what you already know. *Takes out Strunk’s Elements of Style*

16) How small are these budgets??? There’s a lot of positions in a company, and time is of the essence. But I mean, geez, tempted to ask what’s the average budget for a company. I’ll probably never get an answer to share publicly.

17) Scheduling is very important. I picked up a book called “Earn The Right To Win“, by Tom Coughlin, head coach of the New York Giants. In that book is a lot of things that I wish I had did when I was in school instead of doing it now, from preparing to communication, etc. One section was on scheduling. The biggest thing that he had was scheduling for the short term and for the long term. He’s obsessed with scheduling, but at the same time, it’s a routine, and most importantly, it’s there to keep things sane. There will be days where everything goes as planned but then there are days where it does not. But because there was a schedule in place, whatever interruption happened is taken care of, with little change in time. That’s basically it: you plan ahead to get things done without wasting time.

This is half why manga are licensed, but they don’t come until next year. The distributors need time to prepare, and so does everyone else working in the company. There are also other reasons, but this is the sentiment I got from the advice series.

There’s a lot more that I got out of doing this series than least expected.


Realtalk, @OrganizationASG's manga project interviews are super. I usually don't read aniblogs, but it's exactly the stuff I'm interested in

— FEEL SO MOOOOOOOOOON (@zetsubouzhainu) March 29, 2014


@Kami_nomi @kaitou_ace Didn't know interested letterers could just apply straight to Yen Press! I'm kind of tempted to do it…

— Siliva (@Siliva) March 4, 2014

@Kami_nomi @kaitou_ace Thanks. (: I realize I've become kind of a lettering nerd in the past few years… It'd be a dream to actually do it!

— Siliva (@Siliva) March 4, 2014

20) This project has given me a lot of ideas for the future, in addition to continuing to reinforce some of the ideas I had at the start of year.

But I’m curious what you got out of this series. Did anything surprise you in what was said? Did a specific advice post catch your eye? Well, whatever you got, feel free to share below!

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