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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15 Responses to Life of a (Rookie) Editor: It's Not Easy Being Green

  1. Kris says:

    If you want a seasonal job at a book store, you should start looking pretty soon. They’ll be interviewing soon, and probably start hiring at the end of this month or early in November. Don’t wait until the middle of November to start inquiring.

    Good luck with the upcoming surgery!

    Also, if you’re just short on webcomics, I can probably suggest some if you tell me what you’re looking for.

    • The reason I can’t start looking now is because of that damn surgery. It’s about a week and a half away now and I can’t really look for a job and then say: hey, I’d still like to work for you, but I need to go have surgery now. Be back on my feet in November!

      Such is my luck.

      It’s not just lack of webcomics, but lack of ideas to talk about them. 😛 I could do something a bit ranty on how aspiring webcomics writers looking for an artist gets dissed, but one negative post a week is more than enough. 😛

  2. This might be off-topic but I’m a little curious, when you freelance as an editor do you have to live near the publisher?

    I work in a bookstore myself, but I still wish I could find something that in some way applies to my major ^-^;;

    • I’m not sure about other companies, but I do live in Los Angeles where TOKYOPOP is based and I do have to go into the office about once or twice a week. I really wouldn’t be surprised if other companies demanded that you be in their city or close enough to it in order to work for them.

      At the same time, it’s possible to get jobs in other similar positions within the manga industry. A translator or re-writer can be anywhere. The Korean company I work with is based in Seoul, so we communicate by e-mail. I know one of the re-writers I work with lives in Canada and a translator I speak with a lot lives in Japan! So there you go. 😀

      • Ah, I figured most would require you to come in at least sometimes, but I’m just not up to relocating myself. I’ll have to keep my eye out for any jobs that would let me work remotely, though… =)

        • Ah… that sort of thing might not be advertised as much. I feel that getting the freelance/non-office jobs is rather an inside thing. You should shop your resume around as a re-writer, letterer, whatever it is you think you want to do.

    • lys says:

      It depends on what you’re doing freelance, I think. Or maybe since Daniella lives so close to Tokyopop, they have her come down because she can? But I’m a freelancer as well (I do manga lettering as well as children’s book illustration), and all my work is conducted through the internet and shipping the materials back and forth—I can live wherever I want 😀

      I am sympathetic to your difficulties with finding more work, Daniella. I’m going through a bit of that right now myself… but I love working freelance, when there is enough work to be had! Good luck to you!!

      • That’s true. There’s a letterer I know who does it by e-mail for the most part (she does live near the company she works for, though.)

        I wish there was more work to be had. :< I'm not having much luck these days. Good luck to you too!

  3. Now that you have a working relationship with iSeeToons, maybe you could pitch your editorial services to them for publicity materials. Their website would really benefit from a native English speaker’s expertise. A number of folks have tried to tell them this on Twitter, but they have brushed off the suggestion. Coming from someone they know and trust, however, the criticism might be more meaningful and lead to a job opportunity for you. Just a thought.

    • Not a bad idea. Once I’m done recovering from surgery, I’ll have to mention it to them.

    • Dear Katherine, if I was rude or offensive at Twitter then, I’m really sorry about that. I didn’t mean it.

      It’s hard to hire freelance editor for blog work, even if we(iSeeToon) hire for manhwa script, as I thought. Time has passed, something is changed.

      I might consider your opinion very seriously, even if I’m not sure exactly how we will work.


      • I think Katherine is just looking out for the company’s best interests.

        I know we haven’t gotten the chance to speak about it yet, but if you would like me to re-write or edit the blog posts, I would be more than happy to do that for you.

  4. Brigid says:

    It’s hard to make a living as a full-time freelancer, but if your clients know you are looking for permanent work, you may have the edge when they are hiring. At the very least, you are gaining experience and possible references for the future.

    When I was a book editor (also during a recession), I worked full time and freelanced in the evenings to make ends meet. One thing I noticed was that people tend to change jobs a lot, and a good freelancer is a valuable asset to bring with you. Also, editors are more likely to hire someone whose work they know than a complete stranger. So don’t despair—if you like your work, you’re already ahead of the game.

    • Thank you for the advice, Brigid. :3

      I know you’re right, it’s just hard to weather the storm sometimes. I feel like the way the industry is right now, there aren’t too many full-time jobs around and I’m not the most qualified person who’s out there looking. At the same time, however, I know I’m gaining experience and that it’s just a matter of time. I’m just awful at being patient and I want to be financially independent very badly.

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