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Enter the Digital Manga Guild

Back in November, I posted a quick blog entry about the Digital Manga Guild, asking readers what they thought of its pretty radical proposal. Not unsurprisingly, much of the response was wary. Prospective participants were unwilling to trust an untested system with admittedly sketchy details on things like process and payment.

With that in mind, I contacted the folks at Digital Manga Publishing to ask how they’d feel about having someone report from the inside. I proposed that I sign up and take the editor’s test, and if I passed, I’d enter the Guild as both a participant and a journalist, reporting my experiences at Manga Bookshelf, so that prospective Guild members could get a real feel for how the Guild works, where the kinks are, and how the process might evolve during its debut run. To their credit, DMP was very enthusiastic about my proposal, and eager to hear any feedback I might have for them along the way. They also gave me the go-ahead to reveal anything about the Guild I felt necessary, including details like payment.

Last night, I received notification that I passed the editor’s test, so I guess it’s time to begin! I have three important notes before going forward. First, in order to report accurately, I must treat my participation as seriously as anyone else going in. So I’ll be approaching the DMG as a job with hard deadlines and high standards. Secondly, as a journalist, I feel it would be inappropriate for me to accept payment from DMG, so anything I personally make on the job will be donated to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. And lastly, I want to assure any participants who end up working with me that I will never reveal their names in my reports, and that my intention is to report on the Guild and not them.

Unsure if I’d be going forward until I received the results of my test, I took a few notes along the way. We’ll start with those here, with more detailed reports to come as my experience really gets underway.


11/4/10 – Just submitted my pre-registration. The process was easy, though the information requested seems sparse. Since I’ve never edited manga before, I submitted links to my own website, with a bit of discussion on other writing and editing I’ve done. From the form, I get little sense of how much experience they’re really looking for, or if the only thing that really matters is the upcoming test. Time will tell.

11/9/10 – Submitted my editor’s test. Had a little trouble uploading, because the file format the test was delivered in is not one of the formats accepted by their uploader. The webpage promises I’ll be contacted “shortly” but discussion on the forums reveals that they have a high volume of submissions & it might take a while. It might be nice to have a little more clarity on this subject. Also confusing, they are asking people who registered as individuals to form groups on their own, even though we haven’t found out yet if we’ve passed the test. This seems backwards.

1/31/11 – Received notice of acceptance into the Guild!

Dear Melinda Beasi,

Thank you for taking the test, and for your patience in our grading. We are happy to let you know that you have passed the test, and welcome you to the Digital Manga Guild! If you haven’t already, please begin forming a group of at least three (typesetter, editor, and translator) and choosing one member to be your representative. The group representative will handle all communication, projects, and payments, so choose wisely! Feel free to visit our forums (http://www.digitalmanga.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=56) to find other group members. We will be contacting you very soon with the next step, including more details on a Q&A teleconference in mid-February with our President and agreement forms. Congratulations and welcome to the Guild!

Sincerely,
Digital Manga Publishing


My next step is to try to find myself a group. Most of the groupless have gathered in this thread at the DMG forum to introduce themselves and spell out their experience. It’s immediately apparent that there are more homeless editors than anything else, so we may have some difficulty each finding a place. With this in mind, my initial feedback to DMG is that I think some of the groupless editors feel a bit lost at this point. Understanding that the DMP staff is pretty swamped, I hope they’ll be able to provide a little moderation and assistance should things get dicey for groupless participants.

I’ll be posting my credentials over there along with the rest. Anyone want to join up with me? Please let me know!

More updates to come!

ETA: I’ve (sort of, maybe definitely) been invited to a group! More on this in the next installment!

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Comments

  1. This will be fascinating to follow. Brava on the step and good luck!

  2. I’m looking for my own group, but I’m still a little wary about the whole thing. It’ll be good to read your experiences, too. =)

    • I saw on Twitter that you’d passed! :) Congrats & good luck! I’m potentially planning weekly posts (depending on how quickly things move along) in order to share as much info as possible. With a second round of tests coming up (as I understand it) I expect there will be a new batch of potential participants looking for info. Please feel free to comment to my posts, too, if your experiences don’t match mine!

      • Looks like I’m going to need that good luck! Find a group is looking to be impossible for editors. Obviously no one is going to go out of their way to contact me with so many editors floating around, and when I do contact someone I seem to get beaten to the punch. In a way, I kind of wish DMG hadn’t let so many editors pass, it just seems to make things so difficult overall.

  3. While the group idea is great once you’ve got one, there’re some big issues in finding others to work with at this stage. Excluding those who joined as a group, tight now it looks like everyone’s doing the same thing, posting their info in the hopes someone else will contact them first. I think it would’ve been a benefit to have Digital Manga grouping people together at random based on their roles and then individuals can get a taste for the work-style and request to be shuffled again should their randomized group not work out.

    Those issues of course and the fact that going from forum posters, the skew of positions looks to be about 60% editors, 30% letterers and 10% translators. Tricky match-up there!

    But I look forward to groups already forming getting their first assignments to see how it goes :)

    • Yes, the ratio of available participants does seem to be pretty skewed, and I think that could get messy. I’ll be interested to see how/if DMP handles the situation if there are a lot of homeless editors and letterers left over.

      • henohenomoheji says:

        “Q. What about the “groupless” people, as the numbers per position is not even?

        A. We truly want the Guild to be a group and community initiative, so it will be up to you on finding your own group or joining another as a secondary or third. ”

        So it will be all up to homeless editors and letterers. and then DMG will create more homeless editors and letterers according to their second chance plan.
        That’s how I see.

  4. Yep I also got accepted in the DMG as an editor. ^_^

  5. I was actually thinking of joining as a translator a month back. But since my adviser threw me tons of Japanese readings for my thesis… I’m going to wait until this semester is over before I actually do join. :> I’ll follow after your lead!

  6. I’ve thought about signing up, but work is keeping me busy right now, though the prospect of going through the trouble of taking the editor’s test and then being ultimately left out (assuming I pass) because I can’t join a group is a little disheartening.

    • I think the fate of groupless editors is probably the biggest concern I’m seeing expressed in the forums (and elsewhere) right now, so I’ll be interested to see how/if DMP plans to manage it.

      • Too bad I never joined a scanlation group and learned lettering or thought to study Japanese in college (instead of nothing since my university did not require foreign language study). I might just take the test anyway and if I get left out, at least I tried.

  7. Ah yeah every time I go through the ‘looking for group’ thread, I feel like gathering everyone’s details and making a list..>.>

    I wonder when the groups will get their first assignments. ^^

    • I suspect there are people making just such a list! :D

      • …I am actually making such a list. xD
        Because I’m a masochist, I wanted to know the exact ratio between Translators/Editors/Typesetters. I’ll find a way to post it on the forums when I’m done.

        I signed up as an Editor/Typesetter, but it looks like I might have to sacrifice editing in order to find a group. ._.

  8. It’s great to see someone talking about this! I’ve been wondering what people think, but everyone’s still so wary that it’s hard to even find discussions.

    • I’ll do my best to keep everyone posted on how the process continues. I do recommend the Guild forums for more conversation! Obviously most of the people there have already signed up for the Guild, but you’ll still find quite a bit of skepticism in the crowd.

  9. Congrats, Melinda! :D I’m really looking forward to reading about your experiences. I’m another person who’s been meaning to take the editor’s test, but like Cait, I’ve been too busy with work. I’d still love to get involved (assuming I was accepted), but it’ll be good to get a sense of how DMG operates before I try out. It’s already helpful to know that the onus is on participants to form their own groups, and that there are quite a few homeless editors right now — though I’m not entirely surprised it’s turned out like that.

  10. This is great! I would love to know the books you will be working on, then grill you if there are any splleing arrors! All kidding aside, it would be cool to see your name credited in the books ’cause I’ll actually know somewhat who the production staff was :)

  11. Fascinating! Great idea to report on the Guild from the inside! Looking forward to your updates, I’m a BL fan and so have been keeping an eye on Guild news since the start with more than a touch of wariness; will be particularly keen to see how DMP tackle quality control, how they’ll let fans ‘vote’ on titles and how the payment part of it works out.

  12. Confused But Interested says:

    That is awesome! Some questions I hope you will be reporting on that I think really make or break trying this out would be the tax implications. In terms of getting paid, would it be considered contract work. Do you have to fill out a W-2 from the company? How are they managing state taxes for out of state people since I know they are based in California. Are we getting paid based on Profit or Overall Sales? Are we able to audit their numbers or are we supposed to take their numbers as fact? I hate bringing that last point up, but I’ve been cheated out of money before and by the time I found out, I couldn’t really do anything about that. Live and learn.



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  1. [...] Manga Guild, Digital Manga Publishing’s new, community-based publishing experiment. As I explained in a post last week, I’ve joined the Guild as an inside reporter (with DMP’s consent) in order to [...]



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