How To Break Into The Manga/Light Novel Industry – Notes!

4:30 PM – 5:20 PM (PDT) | Anime Expo 2022 | Friday 1 July 2022

Panel Description: Ever wonder what it takes to work on manga or light novels? Not sure what skills you need in order to go pro? Join us in a cross-publisher roundtable where actual hiring managers…

Credit: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting

Panelists: Jan Cash, J-Novel Club; Kristi Fernandez, J-Novel Club; Ben Applegate, Kodansha; David Goldberg, J18 Publishing + VAST Visual; Payton Cambell, Yen Press

Manga is doing really well in the American market right now. According to Bookscan (, manga sold about 26.69 million copies in 2021, with 10.99 million copies having been sold this year (2022) so far (I believe the date this number was pulled was from May or June).

Some of the biggest names in the US-based part of this field right now are VIZ Media, Seven Seas, Yen Press (and their new imprint IZE Press), Kodansha, DENPA, and the like. There are also a lot of other names to consider, like J-Novel Club, VAST Visual & J-18 Publishing, Star Fruit Books, and more.

What are some of the things you need to get into this industry?

Realistically, translating is essential for most of this work. You need to know some part of the language and–if possible–the culture to be in this industry. Not every publisher will require this, but on the editorial side, it is good to have this as a skill set. (J-Novel Club, for example, does not require you to know the Japanese; Kodansha, however, does require you to be able to read full volumes in Japanese.) NOTE: You do not need a JLPT Score. It’s nice to have but not necessary to prove skill.

In fact, the majority of the panelists started off in translating and recommended freelance translating as a means to enter the field. Quality Control (or, QC) is also a great point of entry–such as proofreading copy.

Some ways to get started in the industry as freelance translators are to email in (though, always include a resume!).

Some contacts:

Sometimes translators will be asked to provide a portfolio. Portfolios can be sampled from raws (with a note that this was privately used—though please do NOT use scanlations or share work you’ve done for a scanlation team).

Portfolios are generally a necessity, particularly for translators. You can use raws, or you can even ask the authors directly for permission to translate their work, like on Twitter. If you have author permission and can prove it, this would be a huge boost to your application. Any experience you might have in this regard is also a plus.

Resumes are also necessary (just remember that they should be one page, not more!).

Creative Writing is a plus too.

Following-up: If you don’t hear anything, you can follow up (really, try to do so only once or twice over the course of a week or two).

If you have questions, ask them. And, if you are rejected for the job, always ask for feedback. Making those improvements before applying again or at another location can help get you into this industry too.

As a final note: it is always better to overmark than undermark and explains editorial decisions made while translating or taking an edit test. Helping the test reviewers understand your thinking and process takes out the guesswork. Though on that note: if something is not there–don’t correct it yourself. Note it and tell the editor (this is for letterers, translators, and proofreaders).


This is the first note to go up follow AX 2022, with more to follow. Please be on the lookout! – Peggy

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