It’s been quite a while since my last installment of this feature, largely due to the fact that my DMG work itself has required a great deal of my time. Now that I’ve completed a number of my current assignments, I’d like to take the next few weeks to break down my experience, and also to look into how the Digital Manga Guild is being received so far by the online community, both members and fans.
Readers may recall that Guild members finally received contracts back in June of last year. Then in late July, after great deal of angst and discussion, the group I’d joined finally fell apart, due to the others’ reluctance to sign their DMG contracts.
Though I’m not able to get into the details of my former group’s dissolution, I can tell you that the other members’ decisions were less driven by issues with the contract itself (though these certainly were a factor) and more by an ongoing dispute with DMG management about some of the group’s qualification tests, about which they’d been given conflicting information from the start. Overall, lack of effective and accurate communication between DMG’s caretakers and its members is what killed my original group, something which continues to be an issue for the Guild (I’ll talk about that more later).
In September, I put my name back into the pool of editors without a group, though I wasn’t especially hopeful about snagging one.
Given the overwhelming number of groupless editors in the mix, I thought it likely that my own reporting was pretty much done, and with that in mind, asked the active group BLBangBang if they’d be willing to write up a report on their own experiences, since I had failed to get far enough to actually begin work. They submitted their report in early October, just a few days after I was contacted by Morgan, leader of the group Purple Prose Killers, who thankfully invited me to join her team.
Though I’d finally found a group (again), it would be a while before I’d have real work—at least that’s how things originally stood. The PPK had already received their first batch of assignments, and the work had been distributed and signed off on with the DMG. I’d get my own stuff to work on the next time around, Morgan said, and in the meantime, I offered myself up for final proofreading or anything else the group might need.
A few weeks later, it became clear that the group’s existing editor was going to have difficulty making deadlines for all three of her titles, due to some unexpected personal conflicts. I agreed to take over two of these titles (Keiko Kinoshita’s Yuri Sensei is in a Good Mood Today as Well and A Lovely Day with Yuri Sensei) to help out, though we were told by DMG that I wouldn’t be able to receive credit (or payment) for them, as the paperwork had already been signed. Since I wasn’t accepting payment anyway, I did not see this as a problem. My priority was getting some real working experience so that I could continue my report. (Also, as a big fan of Kinoshita, I’ll admit I was pretty psyched.) In the meantime, DMG assigned us an additional title “for MJto work on,” so I’d have something official to show for myself.
By the end of November, the group’s original editor was entirely MIA. In early December, she was formally removed from the group, at which point DMG agreed to redo the original paperwork so that I would officially be named as editor on all three titles.
Though I’d been working on the two titles I’d taken over, suddenly I had four books on my docket, and the first deadline (for the title I hadn’t been working on) was approaching fast! I was officially named editor on Syuko Nishimura’s Career Gate on December 6th, with a final submission deadline of January 15th. Though the original editor had completed the first chapter, I decided it would be more consistent for me to start from scratch.
Much panic ensued.
Check in next week for the next article in this series, “Process, process, process”!
Angela saysApril 3, 2012 at 8:30 am
Members going MIA seems to be an all-too-frequent problem with DMG. Our translator just dropped off the face of the earth partway into our second project, and we had to scramble to find someone new.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 3, 2012 at 8:40 am
Oh, what a nightmare! Given the translator shortage, that’s a much hairier situation to find yourselves in than what my group experienced. One thing I’m definitely unclear on is if/how a group would be penalized if they were unable to make a deadline due to this kind of disappearance. I’ll have to look over my contract and see if that’s addressed.
Angela saysApril 3, 2012 at 9:00 am
Well, I know for us, DMG understood the situation (she also bailed on another group and ditched a separate project she was doing on her own for DMG) so they said we could have an extension on our deadline if we needed it. We were able to find a replacement translator pretty quickly (I think having actual projects really helped us) so we still finished on time, but it was nice to know they were willing to cut us a break.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 3, 2012 at 9:05 am
That *is* good to know. We, similarly, requested an extension on the deadline for our fourth title, mainly because though we had two translators working on them, the disappearance of the original editor log-jammed things getting through me and on to the letterer (which we only had one of at the time, too, though now I believe we have another). Basically, we’ve been in a major crunch at every deadline, and they’ve been non-stop since January. Things should work more smoothly from now on, but one person’s disappearance significantly affects the entire group.
ZepysGirl saysApril 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Disclosure: I’m Morgan, Group Lead for Purple Prose Killers
Last Fall/Winter was really just a comedy of errors, wasn’t it? ^_^; I am sooo glad we’ve got that all sorted out now. After this Thursday, come hell or high water, I will finally have time to *breathe* for the first time in 4 months. And yes, we do have a 2nd typesetter now—- she’s the only reason I’m going to be able to finish What? Sensei on time (our group’s 4th title). She’s been handling most of the cleaning & rotating for this book.
Also, in regards to contracts for each title—- I really wish they weren’t so ironclad. Things happen. Peoples’ schedules can change drastically. We shouldn’t need to get to the point where we’re booting someone from our group before DMP allows us to give credit where credit is due. I know you didn’t mind, Melinda, but it really bothered me that we couldn’t modify the contracts the first time I asked. And it’s *still* really bothering me that our second typesetter is helping me out so much on What? Sensei, but her name won’t appear in the credits. :(
Another thing that bothers me is that no one on their end thought it would be insane to put two of our deadlines a week apart from each other. Some groups may be fast, but no one’s *that* fast, which is why the normal deadlines are a month apart. It shows that they’re not really giving much (if any) attention to individual groups. I even got a slight reprimand when I requested an extension, which is vexing because I feel like they shouldn’t have expected us to do a book in a week in the first place. >__< And they don't give us feedback on our tests, so I still have no earthly clue WHY I failed—- but that's another rant that I'll try not to bore anyone with. =_=;
…man, I talk too much. xD I'm really glad to see you writing this series again, Melinda. Even though we admittedly talk a lot already, I do like seeing the write-up.
kireipan saysApril 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm
Wow, expecting you guys to finish a book in a week is insane. I’d already gotten the impression that DMG management is shambolic but I didn’t realise they were so unreasonable as well. What on earth is the rush? It’s not like they have printer deadlines to meet or something, they don’t even announce a schedule for titles in advance so there’s no public expectation to meet. I can’t see why they couldn’t give you a an extension on an already ridiculous deadline. To actually reprimand you for asking? Slave drivers. Couldn’t your group have refused that particular book?
DMG really needs to treat their people with more respect if they want to hold on to any of them. Or is it precisely because they think you’re expendable and replaceable? With a crowd-sourced system like the DMG you would expect a high turnover rate of freelancers but they’re doing nothing to hold onto existing people and everything to put off potential newcomers…
ZepysGirl saysApril 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm
Sorry, my comment may have come across as a little harsh to DMP. ^_^; I honestly believe the close deadlines were an oversight on their part, not someone on their end honestly thinking “Hey, this is a great idea!” So it’s more like inattentiveness than slave driving. xD I’m pretty sure their “We understand the circumstances you are under but we ask that all groups follow the initial schedule assigned as much as possible.” stance is just the go-to wording for whenever a group needs an extension. It’s not like they didn’t let us change the deadline.
It’s my fault too for not recognizing the situation sooner, in any case. It took me until we were almost upon the original deadline before I had to give up the pipe dream of finishing it on time. OTL And even though they don’t have printer deadlines or a public schedule, I’m sure there’s stuff going on behind the scenes that we never see. I feel bad about the whole situation, basically.
kireipan saysApril 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm
I don’t think you have anything to feel bad about! When you took on the role of group leader you took on the job and extra responsibility of managing your group and projects, something I’m sure many group leaders won’t have had experience in doing, and with your first assignments you had to deal with disappearing members and shoddy deadline scheduling, I’m sure you deserve a pat on the back for getting through it all.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm
She really does.