Should translators who can only work on one series at a time be allowed to translate more than one ongoing series?


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    This discussion seems to come up in other topics so let’s just discuss it here.


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    @myskaros said in New volume delays in the first half of 2020:

    @lighthawk96 The translator for Ms. Elf works on multiple other series but only has bandwidth for one book at a time, so it will be quite a while before volume 5 will begin translation.

    Sorry, but why is this a thing? Don't bite off more than you can chew. Also, shouldn't that be a question on JNC's part that they can deliver before they are contracted or given additional projects.

    A relative 'small' delay would be understandable because the TL is working on another project to fill the gaps of releases, and I'm sure there are circumstances this or circumstances that, but they shouldn't have that many projects that "it will be quite a while" if they were so limited on time.

    And honestly, sounds like a reply you'd see in Sol Press discord.

    Not saying it's not what has happened, but it shouldn't have happened, by either JNC or the TL.

    Sorry for the rant...


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    @Khaos Translators are not something you can just pick up off the shelf at a grocery store. You can't say 'oh, we're running really busy right now, I'll just hire people off the street and we'll be good to go.'

    And from what I've seen, licenses aren't something you can just pick up whenever you have a gap in your schedule; if you aren't ready to jump when the owner is ready to talk business, you may lose your chance, and be left with nothing at all when your current project ends. Use it or lose it.


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    @Travis-Butler 😏

    Think you misinterpreted part of my post, never talked about JNC licensing.

    None of us are actually part of the process. You can try and justify or defend it however you wish. We could go back and forth forever, but regardless, in the end it shouldn't happen.


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    @Khaos The translator for Welcome to Japan Ms Elf also works on I Shall Survive Using Potions. Both of these are series which have rather slow release schedules in Japan. If he were to work exclusively on only one of those series, they'd catch up to the Japanese releases really quickly, and then he'd be going idle half the year while waiting for new volumes to come out, something J-Novel would've anticipated when signing these series. In that light, it makes more sense to fill his schedule with multiple series, even if it does mean each series is somewhat delayed compared to the Japanese releases.


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    @WaterDweller I disagree with filling the schedule with multiple series. As is, it's been stated it will "be quite a while", not a 'slight' delay.

    Since it is known they only have time for one book at a time...

    I could agree if they were to be assigned to 1 of the slower releases as you have said along with 1 faster releasing series with a slight delay when there is overlap.

    If/when a series is completed then and another, if only done in Japan it shouldn't be an issue as then it would be months between releases.

    Either way done debating.


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    @Khaos
    I'm trying to parse your comment and I'm having a hard time of it

    by definition a 'delay' is changing a scheduled date that would be later than one previously publicly announced (like Sol press is notorious for)

    in this case @lighthawk96 seems to be saying that JNC will not be scheduling Elf5 for a while - if it's not scheduled, it can't be delayed. (if something isn't 'due' it can't be 'late')

    I share your disappointment that Elf5 won't be ready to read soon, but this level of transparency on JNC's part is a feature, not a bug
    so in this case JNC (in order to start on Elf5 immediately)would either have to:

    • change who the translator is working on it, maybe a new hire? (which might NOT be a good thing- could be a ton of work and quality could fall off)
    • take the translator off of another project (which if scheduled might introduce delays on the other project)

    or they could do what they did do: proceed with Potion Loli which was already in their schedule, and add Elf5 to the translator's queue. They refused to compromise quality, and refused to delay on the schedule of Potion Loli and let us know. In however many years that I've been a member JNC pretty much always informs of delays, and delivers on revised schedule if a project is delayed--pretty much the opposite of Sol (who says "coming next week" or whatever multiple times and not delivering, 80k is what, a year behind schedule?)

    as a side note: don't you think JNC pretty much HAS to prioritize Potion Loli? If for no other reason to demonstrate the difference between them and Sol? (FUNA is the author of both 80K and Potion Loli )

    EDIT: I just learned that JNC often obtains licenses PER VOLUME not per series- allocating resources, juggling release dates and predicting when titles come out in japan and ensuring translators are available---when you might not have a license for the project- must be a headache


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    Also keep in mind: it is very possible for a translator to be comfortable working on multiple series at a time... only for life circumstances to come up that make it so they can only work on one at a time. And changing translators is a troublesome matter in and of itself, and at the very least shouldn't be the default answer.

    Right now, from what I can gather, in any circumstance where translators only work on one project at a time, they're only switching between two titles at a time and not more, so it seems like JNC has decided that working on two projects one at a time is acceptable for their release cadences.


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    @Jon-Mitchell I disagree with your definition of delay. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/delay).
    But I do understandwhat you're trying to say but at the end of the day, fact is the TL is known to have time to work on only 1 book and has been assigned multiple others.

    @stardf29 As I said in the first post, I'm sure many circumstances excuses could come up, but it was also stated 'multiple others' projects, so more than two.

    I do understand things happen and I also agree not to change TL, whats done is done, but what I am trying to convey is that it shouldn't have gotten to this point. It's more than likely going to happen again, I'm sure, but at the same time that is no reason not to call it out or express dissatisfaction when it does.
    ✌️


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    @Khaos said in New volume delays in the first half of 2020:

    @stardf29 As I said in the first post, I'm sure many circumstances excuses could come up, but it was also stated 'multiple others' projects, so more than two.

    Except that, because JNC explicitly lists the translator for every volume on the series page, you can go through every single title and find that “Hiroya Watanabe” is currently working on exactly two titles: Ms. Elf and Potions.

    If you want to get technical, you could say that the Potions manga counts as a “third” project, but that was being released alongside Ms. Elf so it’s probably not a huge factor.

    There’s also the possibility of unannounced licenses being currently worked on but since you’re not talking about licensing then there’s no point in talking about that...


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    @Khaos
    You pretty much said what I had said in the Elf 4 thread that I was told was not to be discussed by JNC administration. I don't really get it. I know that they are trying to grow the site, which is a good thing, but they are doing it at the expense of postponing releases on ongoing series. We already had to wait months to get volumes 3 and 4 when it was put on hold and here we are again. And while we have these problems, JNC is still adding new series to the que. Can someone please tell me what the endgame here is and how long of a wait there is going to be for us to get the second half of the story that was left "To Be Continued" in Elf 4?


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    It makes perfect sense for JNC to decide to have a single translator work on multiple series if they're not going to be fully busy working on just one series. It would be inefficient for them to do otherwise. That can occasionally result in a book in one series being delayed, because a book in another series became available to be translated in a similar time frame or because something comes up that slows down the translation, but you're still going to get more content faster that way than leaving a translator idle. JNC does need to make intelligent decisions about which translator works on what in order to minimize the risk that a series will be delayed, because its translator is busy, but it's unreasonable to expect that they're going to be able to completely avoid problems, and they need to use resources like their translators efficiently, or it's just going to cost them money and slow down production overall. And depending on the situation, they could even lose a translator if they can't get them enough work. So, restricting them to only work on one series when that isn't enough to keep them busy hurts both JNC and the translator.

    Honestly, I'd say that having occasional delays due to a translator being on multiple series is just one of the prices that comes with JNC trying to publish books as quickly as they do. Much as people like to complain about how slow Yen Press is, the way that they spread out their releases allows them to absorb issues like this far more easily without disrupting their schedule.


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    @lighthawk96 said in Should translators who can only work on one series at a time be allowed to translate more than one ongoing series?:

    what I had said in the Elf 4 thread that I was told was not to be discussed by JNC administration.

    I only want to point out that I said it should not be discussed in that topic, and anyone was free to make a whole new topic for it.

    No one said the entire topic is off limits in and of itself, just the location where it was being discussed was not a place for that discussion.


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    @Jon-Mitchell said in Should translators who can only work on one series at a time be allowed to translate more than one ongoing series?:

    as a side note: don't you think JNC pretty much HAS to prioritize Potion Loli? If for no other reason to demonstrate the difference between them and Sol? (FUNA is the author of both 80K and Potion Loli )

    They don't really "prioritize" any one series. @DeiLight moves from Holy Knight's Dark Road, to Tearmoon Empire, and then back to Holy Knight, despite the fact that Tearmoon is a huge bestseller, likely much more than Holy Knight. He does go back and forth, so as not to prioritize one. Yea it sucks for us Tearmoon fans, but I prefer the impartiality.


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    I don't really know how in particular JNC runs its business, so this is just going out there as a hypothetical, but if translation work is done on commission (scaling per job) or royalty-based, then there could end up being cases where translators are given less popular series as a backup because they will make less money doing them. They would keep the secondary series in their back pocket for if there is a hiccup in the main series, or they get far ahead in it.

    That would result in certain works being prioritized (since both JNC and the translator would make more money on the more popular series) without having an official priority system.


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    Ok, let us do the beginning...

    First of all, the title of this post is WRONG because, despite not knowing how the TL job is assigned, IF A TRANSLATOR CAN WORK ONLY ON ONE SERIES AT A TIME then stands to reason JNC can't do anything about it.

    In second place, I am sorry that Ms. Elf V5 can't begin, but that's something no amount of whining can solve.

    Thirdly, if you have a translator that can do multiple translations but is only doing one he might be able to take on another one, but it would be a new release, as I am sure some of the hiatus are expected (I guess Miss elf is one of those), and the only way to change TL would be for an Act of God (like the TL getting horribly sick).

    It had to be said, and it was, now REJOICE!


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    @lighthawk96 said in Should translators who can only work on one series at a time be allowed to translate more than one ongoing series?:

    And while we have these problems, JNC is still adding new series to the que.

    The licensing of new series does not have anything to do with a particular series' translator only being able to work on one title at a time. After all, any new series can just be contracted either to someone with room in their schedule for another project, or a completely new translator.

    @alfonso_rd_36 said in Should translators who can only work on one series at a time be allowed to translate more than one ongoing series?:

    First of all, the title of this post is WRONG because, despite not knowing how the TL job is assigned, IF A TRANSLATOR CAN WORK ONLY ON ONE SERIES AT A TIME then stands to reason JNC can't do anything about it.

    Except that JNC can do something about it: not give them additional projects. The question being asked here is whether they should implement this sort of policy or not.

    This topic really shouldn't be about existing cases of a translator working on one out of two series at a time. As far as I'm concerned, those situations are set in stone, and no amount of complaining will change that. This also shouldn't be about cases where a translator starts with being able to handle multiple series but later on ends up not being able to due to life circumstances; that's just life and a part of accepting that translators are people too.

    What we can discuss is, whether in the future, JNC should make sure a translator can work on more than one series at a time before giving them more than one series to translate.


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    @stardf29

    Yes, as I said, my comment stems to the perceived badly wording title, as I assume that, once hiring the translators, either JNC and the individual either agree on how many series at once he (or she) can work at once, or JNC informs of a certain minimum of projects that should be tackled at once and it's up top them to accept or decline the job offer

    nothing more, nothing less

    (BTW, this has been one of the most boring replies I've ever done here, that makes me sad...)


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    Well... All of this being said... If a translator can is assigned to multiple series but can only work on one at a time... Then JNC most definitely needs to plan for better stopping points in a series. Stopping on a TBC when the material is out and available, has been since 2/22/20, then you REALLY shouldn't put off a TBC to pick up on another one while people hang in limbo for months on end.

    Potions vol. 4 ended at a completion and could have been put off to let Elf vol. 5 to be translated. And should in my opinion as I have found Potions to be getting dryer and dryer content wise as the volumes progress. The story really just isn't going anywhere. But I digress on that issue.


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    I'm sure there must be something I am missing:

    • JNC has a finite number of translators/editors that can be assigned to tasks
    • JNC licenses books as they get released (I presume JNC has right of refusal if they are already doing the series... but for current series; the entire franchise isn't licensed at once)
    • releases in Japan are NOT 100% predictable /on a 'X volumes-per-month' type schedule
    • sometimes series end (get cancelled/dropped by original publisher, or author)
      given those 4 points, how can JNC NOT have this type of case occur? it seems to me that it would be inevitable. Translators are talent not Uber drivers, you can't just provision any old one to whatever gig comes up. I've heard that it's preferred by JNC to have the same team working on volumes with a series, but if you want to keep your talent utilized at however # of hours (or words) /week you need to have a 'pipeline' of work for them to do...so you assign more than one series to each translator even without exactly knowing when each book will be available to translate.
      I'm speculating that I can draw a parallel to an industry I do know something about: provisioning delivery engineers in IT

    anyway I imagine it's a juggling act to license enough work for the talent to do, and enough talent to get licenses published (and generate revenue) and keep consistent on who does what so that quality is high --- when there are so many variables. Kudo's to JNC for how good it's been so far - I for one don't want to jiggle anyone's elbows when there work to be done


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