This post has been a long time coming, but it’s pretty difficult to write.
I’ve been a manga fan for ten and a half years now. It’s been great fun and, don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere and neither is the blog.
Now that I’ve become a manga editor, things have changed. I read manga differently and not just for work, but even when I’m reading for fun. (It’s hard to turn off the inner copy-editor.) There are a lot of things I must skirt around because I get paid to work for this company or that company. I’ve tried to avoid writing in detail about my clients, with a few exceptions such as a deep love for a title, news given to me by that company to distribute and stuff that was published well before I started freelancing for any given client. This is mostly because this blog isn’t meant to sell the manga that I work on or to directly promote myself.
I think that’s where some people get confused.
This blog was started as an assignment at my alma mater, but I continued it because manga is something I love very much. Doing reviews never quite worked out for this blog, plus there are plenty more up-to-date manga review blogs out there. Besides, I don’t get too many review copies nor do I make enough to keep up the kind of spending a review blog would need. I settled into a mostly op/ed, vaguely newsy style that suits me quite well. That’s where being in the industry helps me out a lot. This blog would still be struggling if I didn’t have that insight.
Sometimes that’s the only thing about being a manga editor that helps me out as a manga blogger. To be honest, I’ve now had more than a few brushes with trouble because of things I’ve blogged or tweeted about. (No, I’m not telling you what they were.) Since then, I’ve become determined to be more reserved about things related to my clients. There’s nothing else to do in that regard. It’s what other editors do, the only difference is that I’m a lot more green than they are and had to learn through bad experiences.
As a manga editor, being a blogger helps me out by making me keep up with the news of the industry. Because of the community I’ve become way more knowledgeable than I was before I started this blog. Would I do that if I was just a manga editor? Probably not to the same extent as I do now.
(I should note here, that these aren’t the only benefits I derive from being an editor and a blogger, but they are the big ones.)
But it seems like some people think that as a manga editor, I’m just promoting my clients’ products because they pay me. That’s certainly not the truth because, if it was, I’d totally demand more money from my clients. I’m a freelancer and while it’s my responsibility not to harm the client’s reputation with my actions, I don’t have to sell each and every book I work on for the client. If I ever say, “you should all read this manga I’m working on,” it’s because I like it as a fan. The thing is that I do get (or have gotten, as my clients are changing) a lot of relatively unpopular and/or low-selling titles to work on. In a few cases I’ve been able to work on manga that I’ve loved for years. Other titles I get to discover that I love them. I like 95% of the manga and manhwa I’ve gotten to work on so far and if they’re one of the few that I don’t like, you won’t hear me say anything about them.
The only other thing that creates conflict between blogging and editing is really time. Editing pays and blogging doesn’t. Being able to make my own money and pay my own bills is extremely important to me as a person, so when work comes along, I have to take it in order to pay my bills and not be one of those post-college twenty-somethings living off mommy and daddy’s generosity.
The bottom line is this: As an editor, there are certain things I cannot tell you or cannot do, no matter who asks or how much I want to say. As a blogger, I try my best not heavily promote the products I work on unless I truly think they have merit or there is an issue that is important enough to talk about. It’s very hard to ignore issues involving my clients on this blog and it’s hard not to want to convince people that manga I work on is worth reading (and not just because I say so) without losing a bit of journalistic integrity, but I’m determined to keep blogging and finding the balance. (I try to always make my biases clear to readers, hope you’ve noticed.)
I’m just a freelancer, but I believe this blog helps me understand more and more about the industry and what I should strive for in every manga I work on. As a blogger, I want to inform people about industry issues when I can and have fantastic conversations and debates with my readers.
But I’m still just a freelancer, a blogger, a human and none of those things are the definition of perfection.
So whether you’re a reader, a friend, a client or a fellow blogger, please forgive me if my two roles clash and I stumble. Blogging and editing are both things I’m (relatively) new to and I do learn best from experience.
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I must say, I started reading your blog precisely because of your role as an manga editor. The “Life of a (Rookie) Editor” series gives your blog a very unique perspective on the English manga publication. As someone who is genuinely interested in the publication industry for comics and manga, I really appreciate the insight. I certainly hope that the conflicts created from your candid essays won’t force you to cut off future posts about life as an editor.
Actually, I don’t think those columns have been much of a problem for me. There have been a few other posts that *almost* got me in trouble, but the rest of the trouble actually came from Twitter and other places.
Besides, most of those posts seem to be about issues I encounter as a manga editor. Usually well after the issues are solved.
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I’ve become really interested in becoming a manga editor myself. Do you think you could tell me some of the requirements you had to fill to become one..? If not, that’s fine. Just let me know. (^ _ ^)