Earlier this evening, I got promotional e-mail from Digital Manga Publishing that advertised a new concept called the Digital Manga Guild, a site that uses crowd-sourcing to bring un-translated manga to readers. Not only that, but participants in the program are required to apply before they can work on manga and get paid for sales of any work that they do. Here’s an excerpt from the site:
Welcome to the Digital Manga Guild presented by Digital Manga, Inc. — an online open platform where dedicated manga fans can gather to work, talk, and to also be part of a manga revolution. Digital Manga is looking for a few good people to help build an online community of manga localizers to assist in bringing out thousands of untranslated titles to fans everywhere.
With the changing tide of the economy and the high cost and slow pace of producing print editions of your favorite manga, Digital Manga, Inc. has moved forward into this new digital venture to localize and produce manga online! Digital Manga has made agreements with six major Japanese publishers to provide content to our online platform, planned for a 2011 launch. Hundreds of untranslated titles will need to be adapted to the rest of the speaking world. That is where you, the fans step in.
We are in search of groups and individuals to help us with the process, NOW! This entails the need for translators to translate manga from Japanese to English, as well as other languages; editors/rewriters to clean up the translations for a smooth read; and letterers to retouch and typeset text. Once a title is completed, it will be digitally distributed through our platform for purchase. With your help in this process, we can supply more manga faster, to feed everyone’s manga addiction!
Registered groups or individuals chosen to work on projects will be assigned some of their favorite, unreleased titles. By becoming a member, you will be offering services to Digital Manga, Inc, and will be eligible to join our revenue share program. Members who work on specific titles will receive a revenue percentage from all future sales of that book. This means you get to share in our profits. However, no party — Digital Manga, Inc., the Japanese publishers, or you (the localizers) — will get paid until a sales transaction is made. That means, we are all in this together!
Join today to become one of the pioneers in revolutionizing the way we make manga. Pre-registration is open, and Digital Manga, Inc. will contact members to provide further details.
Woah, woah, woah! I have to admit I have SO MANY QUESTIONS right now. For one, will anyone be allowed to join? I sent in an application for an editorial/rewrite position, so it’s up to DMP who gets to work on manga and get paid. How much people get paid is another question I have, as well as how much are these manga going to cost? Is this that new Crunchyroll manga platform thingy we’ve been hearing about? How is DMP getting the licenses to distribute these manga? Who chooses what manga gets worked on? Will fans be able to request titles? Is this a way for scanlators to go legit, and, if so, are they still allowed to do scanlations on the side?
You can sign up as an editor/rewriter, translator (for many different languages, so if you know Chinese or Spanish or some other language, put that down!) or a letterer/touch-up artist, either as an individual or a group. I’ve already signed up myself, so if my application is approved (how long does that take, I wonder? I should update the personal site I gave as a reference to my work this weekend!) I will do my best to share any details I can give in the future.
What do you think, readers? This clearly has the potential to be a big development for the manga industry digital presence and I am super-excited to see what comes of it.
I think this is an amazing opportunity to spread the love for manga! It would be faster and cheaper probably. I guess this is the proposal they made months ago directed to scanlators, but now it has taken a very interesting form.
I agree! I don’t know about how fast it’ll be yet, but it’ll definitely be cheaper (anything that doesn’t have to worry about print costs is infinitely cheaper.)
Definitely many questions. They were talking about a project like this earlier this year. I didn’t know they were so close to getting it ready.
Will probably try my hand as an editor as well.
Best of luck to you! ^_^
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I’m really excited about this. Thanks for posting it on Twitter, I applied immediately. I hope they take me on, though I don’t have the direct editorial experience you have.
I think this might be a way to deter scanlators, since now they can actually get paid for the work, and if they’re too busy with legit work they might not have time to do their scanlations on the side.
My pleasure really, it was super-exciting to be the first to talk about this news. o_o Seems like I’m going to have a lot of competition from the editorial side of things. ^_^ Good luck!
I’m hoping this is a way. Maybe it will slow down scanlations, but it definitely won’t solve the problem of getting the latest chapter of Naruto out to the masses, so not really.
Thanks, you too! ^_^
And oh, definitely not. Big stuff will always get fansubbed/scanlated, regardless of how fast the legit translation comes out.
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I don’t like this revenue share thing they’re doing. Basically, we do all the work, get paid with the scraps off their table, and they get to sit on their butts and enjoy the income.
They don’t even have to invest much into it. Think about it: it’s a win-win only for DGM and the Japanese companies. If it doesn’t take off, they didn’t have to pay anybody to translate, edit, lay out, print, bind, transport, market, package, and sell their product. You don’t get paid a flat rate. And they’ll have all the legal rights to your work, not you. Basically, they’ll have gotten the brunt of the work done for free. Oh sure, they’ll have to pay a guy to maintain the website, but they usually pay those guys chips anyways. And of course, if it does take off, they get to sit back and enjoy the sales without lifting a finger.
Beware the cheery tone of their press releases and remember to read between the lines. If you’re taken in by the “you’re finally gonna get more than just thank-yous!” part of the deal, just go professional. Guaranteed, you’ll make more money. BL is niche genre, and while BL fans buy constantly, the majority of manga readers are not BL fans.
There’s just too many ways to get screwed over by joining this “revolution.” They could pay you next to nothing for all your work. They could take the legal rights for your work (which will probably belong to them by contract) and use it in some way that profits them, but not you. Maybe the contract only pays you the percentage for that book for the length of your contract and not after. Maybe it won’t be required for them to even release it within the length of your contract, so you don’t get paid at all. Maybe it won’t cover other forms of publishing, so they’ll sell hardcopies and you won’t get paid for those sales. And, worst case scenario, they basically have a confession from you that you did illegal work (they require samples of work when you join). They could turn you in, or dangle it over their workers’ collective heads.
Frankly, I’ll take the thank-yous and see DGM off with a nice **** you very much. And if there’re other translators out there that’re willing to work that hard for so little money, they should go get a job and a self-esteem help group. Maybe then, they’ll see they’re worth more than the pay of a Mexican factory worker.
You’re right, it is a little sketchy, but if it feels worth someone’s time for them to do it, who’s going to stop them? Not I. I personally would like to see what they’re cooking up first before I send this project to the depths of hell. Ideally, this project could solve the problem of all the missing, untranslated manga that would never fly in the print world but might be more plausible digitally.
And also, we haven’t seen the contracts or the pay yet. They could be remarkably fair to the parties involved. As far as I know, DMP does not have a reputation for screwing over their people. (Also, it would be extremely illegal for them to blackmail potential workers, just to remind you.)
Right now there are really more questions than answers, so thus it is time to wait and see, not scorn it sight unseen.