Life of a (Rookie) Editor: Working Outside of Manga

Last week, I managed to gain a new client. As you can imagine, I’m pretty happy about it because it means I don’t have to panic about money post-Tokyopop. They aren’t a manga publisher, but I’m just glad to have work that doesn’t stop me from editing manga.

The other day, I mentioned my new job, copy-editing for a magazine, on Twitter. A friend asked if I wanted to remain in manga or whether I just wanted to edit in general, and the resulting discussion touched on this important question: Can a manga editor work outside and inside manga at the same time?

I don’t think I need to tell you readers that I’d love to work on manga all the time. But the reality is that when Tokyopop shut down suddenly, my clients couldn’t give me enough work to fill that hole on such short notice and I wasn’t feeling confident or experienced enough to solicit other manga publishers to hire me on as a freelancer. I felt it was time the face the facts and accept that I might not be able to work  exclusively on manga and pay my bills each month.  So it was only natural to pursue editing jobs outside of manga publishing.

I  admit I was a little nervous about whether someone with experience in such a niche publishing industry could be hired to edit elsewhere. Editing was comfortable for me, but was there someone out there looking for a person to just edit and would they continue to let me freelance elsewhere? Do manga editing skills even apply to editing for other publications?

Editing manga is so much more than copy-editing. You have to watch the artwork as well as the grammar, plus you have to worry about how things sound to a reader because of the translation that takes place. While this “ease” of reading is something any editor usually has to look for when reading over any kind publication, it’s especially important and difficult when working on manga.

That being said, standard copy-editing skills are used extensively in editing manga. The copy-editing classes I took in college not only taught me how to fix grammar and spelling, but how to shorten a sentence without losing its meaning (very important skill if your dialog doesn’t fit into a word balloon. Also great for writing back cover copy, etc.) and other things. I first applied to my internship with Tokyopop with good faith that those skills I had learned while getting my B.S. in journalism would be able to get me through it. (And they did.) It’s often said that knowing how to write well can get you anywhere you want to go. I guess the same is true if you know how to edit.

Like any job, I had to learn a lot of other stuff in order to edit manga professionally, but I’ve even found that the manga-specific stuff could be applied to editing other things. My new client asked me if I could suggest design fixes as needed, and I felt confident that I could because I had handled many cover designs and scoured pages for art errors. Editing manga also taught me how to use a certain computer program that allows me to work from home without wasting time by sitting in LA traffic and trying to pick up assignments in person. My new client listed that as a job requirement.

Of course, this is just editing for manga and editing for journalism. Editing for academia is very different, as my friend pointed out, and if I was trying to get into that kind of editing, working on manga wouldn’t look good on my resume. (Or vice versa.)  I would have to agree with her on that specific point because academia is strict. But there’s no reason I cannot work on manga and with my other client, especially since I know all the writing style guides that my clients use.

It would be fantastic if I could make all the money I needed by working in manga publishing. The reality of it is that I’m (again) so incredibly lucky to be doing something I love so much when most people my age cannot even get a job in their field. I’m even more lucky to have gotten more work in a related field in my time of need, which means I gain more experience that look good on my resume. If I hadn’t gotten that work, I probably would have been forced to quit editing manga to pursue a job where I could earn a better living. After all I’ve put into my manga editing career, it would be a real shame to be forced to drop out now.

So, can I edit manga and other stuff at the same time? I don’t see why not!

About Daniella Orihuela-Gruber

Daniella is a freelance manga editor and blogger. She likes collecting out of print manga and playing with her puppy. Yes, someone got her a puppy already.
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4 Responses to Life of a (Rookie) Editor: Working Outside of Manga

  1. Pingback: Everybody is reading A Bride’s Story this week! « MangaBlog

  2. mina tena says:

    Wow! I honestly am thinking about becoming a manga editor after college and you make it sound really worth it! Please, can you recommend any colleges i should go to in order for me to become an editor too?

    • Honestly? I wouldn’t recommend becoming a manga editor to anyone anymore. It’s a tiny, tiny industry and very few people hold such jobs. The chance of you getting a full-time position as a manga editor is incredibly small. If anything, I would go to a school with a heavy liberal arts focus and an intensive Japanese course. Double major in Japanese and English, and take a lot of journalism and graphic design classes. Master InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, and you could be a letterer as well to get more work.

      But as for a specific college, I couldn’t really tell you. Ask your college counselor to help you find a school with great English and Japanese programs and you should be fine no matter where you get your degree.

  3. mina tena says:

    Thank you! And i know it may be hard to become an editor but its worth a shot! At least you gave me an idea on what i should be looking at, so i am grateful!

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