How I got started in manga lettering

Luck had a great deal to do with how I get into manga lettering. I am lucky enough to have a friend from college who is not only even more manga-obsessed than I am, but far more proactive in going after what she wants. Somehow, she got to know just about everyone in the industry (or so it seems to me) even before she landed an actual job in manga publishing. Around a couple of years ago, one of the publishers she knew was looking for new letterers and set her up with a lettering job. When I heard about it from her, I (of course!) begged to be introduced. Fortunately, the publisher was open to other new letterers and the production manager was kind enough to take a chance on me. I guess I did okay, since they kept sending me work after the first book.

In terms of prior experience, I had about a year and a half of book production management under my belt at the time. I was interested in book design, but had no professional design experience. I also knew Photoshop inside and out, though, again, I had no professional experience and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an artist. I don’t know how much of that they took into consideration when hiring me: I had little experience that was directly related, but I was familiar with Photoshop and book production. Photoshop is definitely a prerequisite; one of the publishers I’ve worked for uses Photoshop and Illustrator; the other requires Photoshop and InDesign. I imagine others use Quark, too, so I’ve become proficient in all of them (though I hardly ever use Illustrator).

But notice my post isn’t called “How to get started in manga lettering” – I don’t know how other people into it, after all! However, it can’t hurt to introduce yourself to publishers at cons to get your name out there (also known as “networking” 😉 ). If they don’t have any openings at the moment (and now is a really bad time, unfortunately), they may very well keep your contact info on file in case they need new people in the future.

Anyone else want to share their stories about how they got into the biz?

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