Tuesday means it’s time to share my weekly report on the Digital 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 give potential participants a chance to see what membership really entails before deciding whether to take the plunge.
Last week, I was notified that I passed my editor’s test and that I needed to become part of a group containing at least one officially accepted translator and typesetter in order to be able to work on any manga. I could do this by either joining up with other accepted individuals, or becoming part of an already-established group.
The DMG forums immediately began to fill up with posts from individual editors (and to a lesser extent, typesetters) seeking to form groups, at which point it became apparent that success was unlikely for a large number of newly-accepted members. With translators at a premium, the tone became pretty desperate, and the groupless began asking for assistance from DMP to help resolve their situation. A comment early on from DMP representative starlightmuse indicated that they might have some plan for addressing the situation, but aside from the creation of a new set of search threads, they’ve since made it clear in the updated FAQ that they “will not be taking part in forming groups in any way.”
At this point, it seems likely that a great many editors and typesetters are doomed to remain groupless, and it’s quite telling that of the new group-formation threads, the one entitled “Translators Looking to Join a Group” currently contains no replies at all. Some relief may arrive in the form of latecomers to the testing, as the updated FAQ indicates that there have been new applicants with yet ungraded tests, as well as a group of early applicants who will be taking a second test sometime this month. Of course, there’s every chance that the new tests will simply create more groupless editors, but only time will tell. On the upside, group participation is apparently fluid, and it’s been made clear that individuals are free to work with as many groups as they like, so translators looking to maximize their output and earning potential should find plenty of folks eager to work with them.
Given the general circumstances for individual editors, I must admit I’ve been extremely lucky. Not long after I posted my own little ad in the original group search forum, I was contacted by the leader of an already-established group, asking me to join as long as I could satisfy the group’s privacy concerns. Since I was immediately impressed by the leader’s management style and thoughtful self-expression, I eagerly agreed!
I will not be the only editor in the group, and indeed every role is covered by at least two people, which should allow us to work concurrently on a number of titles while accommodating its members’ busy schedules. Happily, too, the group has been chosen as one of the Guild’s beta groups, so we’ll be working with DMP on the first batch of titles, in order to help them identify any problems with their process. What this means for readers, of course, is that I’ll be able to report on the Guild’s inner workings from the get-go, which I hope might be enlightening for all.
Some of the questions brought up in comments to last week’s post have since been addressed (at least in part) in the Guild’s updated FAQ, particularly those about payment and taxes, though there is still quite a bit up-in-the-air there. When I have real facts to report on those issues, rest assured I will do so.
Signing out for this week! Please feel free to ask questions in comments to this post, and tune in next Tuesday for more!
Jade saysFebruary 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm
Well, there wasn’t as much Dungeon Mastering going on as expected, but this series is shaping up well.
It sounds like an on-line game with everyone scrambling to find healers. Do you think the acceptance process actually helped to create a more professional atmosphere on the forum or has the scramble for translators and groupless hordes broken that down a bit?
Also, is it really nothing but BL books? I could never really get any straight information on that. At first I worried that a deluge of thousands of BL books would implode the genre in the West, but this post really puts into perspective how tough it is for a lot of these groups and we actually should see a fairly natural flow of content.
Melinda Beasi saysFebruary 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Heh, that’s a great analogy. Definitely in the new group search area there is a more professional tone, with partly-formed groups speaking distinctly about the way they’d like to work and what they can offer prospective members and so on (and a definite reduction in LOL-speak).
As for the genre thing, I think it will be mainly BL to start (that’s where DMP’s real base is, after all) but they’ve promised more variety down the line. Personally, I suspect it will be mostly (or all) BL for quite some time. I think it’s actually the best way to start with an experiment like this. There’s a huge amount of popular, unlicensed material, and a fanbase that is always hungry for more. I think, too, (and this is a bit conjecture, but not from out of nowhere) that there is somewhat less history of animosity between BL publishers and BL scanlators than you’d find in more mainstream genres, so DMP has been able to build a shaky kind of almost-trust with existing scanlation groups, whom they surely need to make this work. I think that’d be difficult to pull off in nearly any other genre. There are people who probably have a lot more to say about this than I do, but that’s the feeling I get.
Grace saysFebruary 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm
I’m actually a Japanese-English translator who just applied to work freelance with Digital Manga, which is a different story, I suppose. However, I’m also curious about Digital Manga Guild. I opted to apply for a freelance position since I assumed it would be less messy than trying to coordinate with a group, plus I was thinking you’d get better pay as a freelancer. I’m not looking for a major source of income here, but it would also be good to get paid well for work. Then again, I haven’t done anything community-oriented with manga/anime in years, so it could be fun. Any thoughts? Thanks!
Melinda Beasi saysFebruary 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm
Well, I am not at all familiar with DMP’s terms with freelancers, so I can’t offer any advice regarding pay. I *can* tell you, though, that there are a hell of a lot of groups at the DMG looking for translators, so you’d certainly be well-received.
Grace saysFebruary 8, 2011 at 4:52 pm
Ha, alright. We’ll see! Thanks. :)
kireipan saysFebruary 8, 2011 at 7:05 pm
Your group sounds like a…scanlation team ^^; Which I think is what DMP were hoping to hire from the start, not individuals but groups ready to churn out the translations fast. DMP save themselves a lot of work by leaving it to the group to delegate roles, possibly to organise schedules, to do their own ongoing recruiting work; is this what DMP had in mind when they made the decision not to assign work to individuals but to groups? It fosters community spirit but it sounds like extra work, especially for group leaders, that Guild members won’t be renumerated for… How involved will DMP be with groups? Or will they give a group a title and a deadline and leave them to it? Much less hassle and probably more pay to be a freelancer – the advantages of being a professional and not amateur, I suppose.
Have DMP said anything about what platforms they plan to release these digital titles on? Will be keeping an interested eye on your experiences ^^
Franzeska saysFebruary 9, 2011 at 9:36 am
DMP has said that they won’t get involved in group issues. Each group will have a representative, and that’s the person DMP will deal with and pay. I suppose some groups may end up agreeing to divide the money unevenly depending on actual work done.
Melinda Beasi saysFebruary 9, 2011 at 9:41 am
DMP was absolutely targeting scanlation teams for recruitment from the start, and I assume that’s where most of the original groups came from. My (vague) understanding of how this will work, is that groups will be given a package of titles to work on at their own pace. Yes, it’s very different from freelancing as an individual, though I admit I’m personally rather psyched about the collaborative opportunity offered by working as a group. I’m sure it varies group-to-group, but I was very much taken with the collaborative process described to me by my group leader, and I’m really looking forward to working that way. I think it will be quite rewarding from a creative and artistic standpoint. Only time will tell if that extends to monetary rewards as well, of course.
As for platforms, I believe the plan is mainly digital, though they have mentioned the possibility of print. I suspect that depends on how popular the titles turn out to be.
kagenshou saysFebruary 9, 2011 at 7:38 pm
Hi, : )
In your article, it says “the group has been chosen as one of the Guild’s beta groups”, do you know when your group is starting the project?
Melinda Beasi saysFebruary 9, 2011 at 7:45 pm
I’m afraid I don’t. I don’t believe my group leader does either. We’re in “wait and see” mode for the moment. :)
kagenshou saysFebruary 9, 2011 at 10:22 pm
Oh I see. This is getting very interesting and I am looking forward to read your weekly report. Thank you. : D
TheBigN saysFebruary 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm
Nice to give an update in your travails with the DMG. I myself have to take a second qualifications test in order to possibly become an editor, so it’s a continuing process on my end to hopefully get positive results on the matter. Good luck with your group! :)
Harumi saysFebruary 16, 2011 at 5:48 am
How were the beta groups chosen?
Btw, I’ve received an e-mail about the teleconference… Will you be signing up for it? (^.^)v
Franzeska saysFebruary 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm
Maybe Melinda has a better answer, but from what I’ve seen in the forums, it looks like they randomly selected some people signed up as groups instead of individuals. (There were two ways to sign up on the site.)
(I love these posts, Melinda. I’m signed up too, but it’s great to see what other people think about DMG.)