We're often asked how we manage to release so many projects every week, and it seems to be often wrongly assumed that we simply have a big team - we don't. Let me tell you a little about the secret to our productivity: it's all about our fine-tuned workflow!
We only work on series we love, but that doesn't mean we only love what we work on. There are other great series out there that, in a perfect world, we could potentially pick up, but our plate's pretty full right now as it is. We only have so many members and so much time. Of the 10 weekly series we carry, 7 are from one single magazine (update: with HxH on hxhiatus, it's only 6 :( ). We get those in raw format every Thursday - all at once. Pretty much all of us either go to university or have a proper job; we outgrew our nerdy high school selves 5-10 years ago. We're nerdy adults now. Busy, nerdy adults.
But how do we really do it then? Having almost all of it fall on 1 day is the main reason, really. What doesn't fall on that day comes in on the weekend, when most of us are free anyway. When you know weeks and months in advance when you need to be around to enjoy your hobby, it's pretty doable. Some of us have arranged their classes and seminars so that Thursdays are free, others go to work a few hours later or come home a few hours earlier. Some of us work from their home offices, and are their own bosses, so even taking all of Thursday off is possible. It's a combination of being able to predict when you're going to be needed, communication about it and then the willingness to make real-life arrangements work out for it. It's manageable because we keep it limited to a few busy days of the week. Of course, the key to all of that theory actually working is having an amazing team of very reliable people who make time no matter what, week after week.
The process itself is then pretty straightforward. Let's look at Thursdays - we get our seven series, sometimes eight (every 4th week we get a ~45 page Boruto chapter on top of it all now) and make them available to our translators, most of which have one series to work on. There is one that carries three (update: two now, damn you Togashi ruining my point - yay after-the-fact-edit humor though) on his shoulders alone. But he's a vampire who doesn't sleep at night, so there's some special advantages there. For our Shokugeki no Soma translator though, for instance, raws come in around midnight his time and he's a financial analyst - so he needs his beauty sleep, of course. That, incidentally, is the reason why we take longer to release that one than the rest; it's only completed after he's back from work the next day (update: which is why we switched to another translator, who, no worries, is also a big fan).
While the translators' quills are scratching away, the cleaners get started on their magic. Sadly, WSJ is printed on 100-fold recycled paper that wouldn't pass for toilet paper in most households, and with as little ink used as possible. Which is understandable, considering their weekly circulation is in the millions and magazines are typically thrown away after reading anyway, but yeah, doesn't make it any easier for us. So, the cleaners do their thing, and ideally start cleaning pages that require redraws, so we can start on those as soon as possible, too.
Redrawing is necessary all those times you have text not inside bubbles or on a white / black background, but actually placed on top of art. It wouldn't even be all that bad, if Japanese wasn't written top-down and right to left... so it's impossible to just cover it with English text, and we often spend the longest time removing that text and then applying the Photoshop tools and drawing skills we have at our disposal to make it appear like there was never any Japanese text there to begin with. That is, literally re-drawing the image behind the text. It does help though, of course, if that page is already typeset and you only have to redraw the bits that are still visible from beneath that.
We prioritize cleaning and redraws for series based on two factors: ease of translation/cleaning and personal preference. Bleach is done first because it's usually got less text than your average ingredients label. It's usually light on redraws, too. We've got a few huge OP/HxH fans on the staff, and the TLers tend to finish those quickly as well, so those are done next.
So, to summarize:
Receive scans -> simultaneously start translating and cleaning -> prioritize cleaning the pages requiring redraws -> prioritize cleaning the series that are translated sooner -> use translations to typeset pages -> finalize redraws with the English text on them while the non-redraw pages are being typeset.
Oh and the other important thing; we've been working with a group channel similar to IRC for a while now, so all our translators share their dedicated channel and whenever anything comes up they have trouble translating with, they can always buzz the others and get some advice or ideas. It's really useful both in terms of speeding up finding solutions for problematic lines but also in the actual final quality we produce because there's so much input by all our people.
We don't really have any particularly strict internal hierarchies, everything is pretty horizontal. For translations, though, we have some translators who "rank" higher in that they either have more years of experience with Japanese or their fields of study in university are actually useful (take voxanimus for instance, who took Japanese at the graduate level and is a linguistics major, pretty ideal for translating if you ask me). These guys and gals are there to provide help with complex structures or even TL check entire chapters. The difference, by the way, between TL checking and proofreading is that a TL checker looks at both the translation and the original text and often rewrites lines entirely or finds possible misinterpretations and whatnot. Nevertheless, although voxanimus is the main TL checker, we also get his One Piece translations TL checked by eucalyptus - nobody is above or beyond checks and quality controls. (Update: Incidentally, eucalyptus recently took over OP from vox 2 weeks ago while she's completely free from university duties). We just really try hard to get everything as correct as possible. Ego is just not an issue within our ranks.
Not that we don't proofread and quality check as well. Every redraw is double-checked, and so is the typesetting. The releases on a whole are read by a bunch of people, our staff has some pretty intense fans for these series after all. We spend hours discussing arcs, plotlines, characters and whatnot in the chat. So whenever we find something off or that could still be improved afterwards, it's also brought up and the page is updated. Plus, we do read your comments, a lot more than you might think. Partly to make sure we don't miss any mistakes that you all do us the favor of pointing out, or to answer questions when they may arise. Mostly because we like hearing what you all have to say. Really.
So yeah, basically the process is repeated throughout the day, with some people coming and others going. And now to get to the actual point why I even bothered to write this all up; We'd love some extra hands!
Are you interested in joining our team? You can not only help us improve the quality further, release faster and lighten the workload on our team but also join a super cool club of really hardcore fans (and, surprisingly, pretty fun people) - we do have a lot of fun, otherwise we wouldn't bother coming back week after week, and we're willing to teach you all you need to know to be of use. We went out of our way and prepared a forum entirely dedicated to showing you the ropes, no matter which position you're interested in. As of now, not all sections are completed, but you can find out all about the status and positions we need to fill right over here.