[THIS IS A NON-PROFIT TRANSLATION BY MAGNAVALON (https://magnavalon.com), PLEASE DO NOT RE-HOST/COPY TRANSLATION ANYWHERE ELSE]
“Yes, this is Jinnai.”
“Thanks for your hard work; this is Kenzaki from Phoenix Bunko. Thank you for the plot of your new work, Jin-sensei. I have finished reading it.”
“Kenzaki-san, thanks for your work. You’re so quick at it, as always. So, how was it?”
“I’ll be going straight to the point—it’s rejected. All of it. I think it’s better for you to create a new one from scratch instead of trying to fix it here and there.”
“…That’s really straight to the point.”
“I hate beating around the bush. Don’t you hate it too, Jinnai-kun? Or, do you want me to keep your head up in the clouds by praising you and then say ‘but I guess it’s still a no-go’ in the end?”
“Well, of course not.”
“I guess a story about light novel authors is really tricky. It’s difficult to package, and simply having ‘a light novel author as the main protagonist’ doesn’t really serve as much of a hook for the readers. We have lots of works like that which flopped hard.”
“Ah… I see. Well, I’ve got hunch that it was not good enough too.”
“To begin with, Jinnai-kun, didn’t you submit a story about light novel authors before? We went through a similar conversation and it got rejected too, as far as I remember.”
“I thought it could work in this current age. See, isn’t there a successful hit which feature a light novel author as the main protagonist lately?”
“That work is selling because the author’s past work got adapted into an anime and sold like hotcakes. It’s a special privilege reserved for bestselling authors.”
“…I, I thought I’d have a chance too since, well, I’m also an author whose work got adapted into an anime.”
“It’s a special privilege reserved for bestselling authors.”
“…Err, I’m fine with it, you know? I understand Kenzaki-san’s character really well. But, there are a lot of authors with a delicate mentality in this world, so I think it would be better if you put in a more indirect way…”
“Frankly speaking, there are many authors who want to write a story about light novel authors.”
“Do you know why?”
“Isn’t it because one would be able to write it without doing any sort of research?”
“Rather, it’s so the author will be able to elaborate their own creative process and writing aesthetics. But in reality, it’s a very niche trope. The author themselves might be able to enjoy writing it, and fellow authors or other people working in the editorials might find the work interesting, but the readers won’t be the target audience. The plot of Jinnai-kun’s new work that I received this time also suffers from this case.”
“Well, there are ways to make such a niche trope interesting. However, personal connections within the industry are indispensable for that. Jinnai-kun, how many of those personal connections do you have? How many author friends do you have who would simply laugh it off when your penname and work got turned into a cliche?”
“In the end, no matter if it’s a manga about mangakas or a light novel about light novel authors, there won’t be any persuasiveness in it or any demand from the readers if it’s not written by someone accomplished enough. Sorry to say, but the name ‘Yota Jin’ doesn’t have such a value as an author yet.”
“With that settled, this plot will be rejected. Also, I believe the first draft submission for the manuscript of ‘Eirasu’’s 12th volume has been scheduled for this month. Additionally, I’d expect to receive the afterword and bonus side story for the 11th volume within this week.”
Well then, excuse me, she said.
The call was terminated with a polite greeting, befitting of a full-fledged member of society. The beginning and the end of the conversation were the only parts done in an absurdly courteous manner, while she didn’t hold back at all throughout the middle. It’s the specialty of my editor, Hiyoko Kenzaki-san.
“…Huff, so it wasn’t good enough, huh.”
I heaved a deep sigh and leaned on the back of my chair. This aeron chair which costed 100.000 yen is a high-class item which has an amazing level of comfort matching its price tag.
Right after I debuted, an elderly senior author gave me an advice that “for chairs, only use a good one,” so I purchased it right after I started living all by myself. I had thought 100.000 yen was pretty expensive then, but considering what I’m getting, it wasn’t really a bad deal.
But even the level of comfort that 100.000 yen has to offer couldn’t relieve my gloomy mood.
Along with the sound of the door opening, a voice so lighthearted and cheerful—as if it’s shaking off the bad atmosphere—resounded within the 1K[i] apartment room. It seems Yuma has finally returned from doing groceries.
“Huff~, it was so hot out there. Even though it’s only April, Kanto is getting hot real quick, isn’t it? It seems my clothes were too thick.”
Her loosely permed, brightly colored hair greatly complements her child-like face with a natural makeup on. A beautiful girl who is 60% cute and 40% pretty—no, considering her age of 20-year old, the term “beautiful girl” doesn’t really fit her anymore.
Stylish clothes, just to be expected from female college students nowadays. As if pulling the collar of her shirt, her cleavage dazzlingly came into view and poisoned my eyes. Definitely some huge tits she’s got there. They got a lot bigger ever since the third grade of middle school.
Her relationship with me is… Well, sort of a childhood friend, or an inseparable one.
We were always together from elementary school to high school, but we went to different universities. However, since we were both leaving our hometown and studying at universities in Kanagawa, we keep staying in touch with each other. Since we are both living by ourselves, we are helping each other… Or rather, it’s me who sucks at doing housework that often ask her for help.
And so, today.
My relationship with this childhood friend of mine will turn into a long-term employment.
Starting from this month—strictly speaking, from today.
Yuma Kizuki will start working as the assistant of mine, author “Yota Jin”.
“Here, Yota. I have bought the light novels you asked me to buy.”
Right after putting the ingredients she bought into the fridge, Yuma said that as she handed a bookstore paper bag to me.
“Thanks. Sorry for asking you to buy them.”
“It’s fine, no problem. This is also one of the jobs for an author’s assistant, right? It’s part of the work, so I’ll properly do it.”
As she spoke with a pleasant smile, Yuma held out her hands towards me.
I responded by, *bang*, clapping her hands.
A delightful sound echoed. It’s as if both of our hearts understand each other—
“—Hey, it’s not that!”
Suddenly, Yuma yelled at me. Even though she was supposed to be from Tohoku like me, it was in Kansai dialect.
“Huh!? Why did you hit me just now!? I don’t get it!”
“Eh? What? So it wasn’t a cue for a high five?”
“Of course not, you creep!”
“Creep… Then why are you holding out your hands?”
“Money! I’m telling you to hand me the money!”
Right, of course. I was thoughtless. Receiving the receipt from Yuma who had become the embodiment of anger, I stood up and paid her the money used to buy the light novels and ingredients. It was around 5.000 yen.
“Right, thanks. Wait, I’m giving you the change.”
“It’s fine. It’s just 200 yen, so I’ll give it to you. It’s cheap anyway.”
“Really!? Thank you, Yota. I love you so much!”
“…You really love money, huh.”
In the face of my childhood friend who quickly changed her expression in a breeze, I could only smile wryly.
I opened the bag from the bookstore and took out the light novels inside. There are four light novels that I ordered.
“…Hey, what’s the meaning of this?”
“Hm? What’s wrong? Did I forget to buy something?”
“It’s the opposite.”
She didn’t forget buying any—she bought more. She bought one more book. I only asked her to buy four light novels, but there are five books inside.
“Why is there the latest volume of ‘Dramachi’ here?”
Dracula no Iru Machi. Author: Arihito Fujikawa.
In short, “Dramachi”.
One of the flagships titles of Phoenix Bunko ever since I started my debut, it’s a monstrous work that has churned out outrageous numbers with cumulative sales surpassing 5 million copies. With its anime’s second season and movie in production, the numbers are expected to rise even more.
“Ah, that one. I found it at the bookstore by chance. Yota, if I remember correctly, you have been collecting this series, right? It seems like today is the book’s release date, so I bought it for you.”
Fufun, Yuma laughed. How is it? Aren’t I great? It’s fine to praise me, you know? As if she wanted to say those words, Yuma showed an extremely elated expression.
The thing about me collecting Dramachi is the truth. While I do read the series because I simply find it interesting, my biggest reason is for study and research. I generally read popular and much-discussed works. For a calculating-type authors like me to survive in this industry, research on the market and marketing ability are essential.
But, even I know that today is the release date of Dramachi’s latest volume. It’s a work with a tremendous popularity even after the anime ended. The bookstores are certainly pushing the sales too. The books are definitely displayed in a special corner. Basically, to the point where even someone who is not interested in light novels like Yuma can easily find them.
Yuma’s good will honestly makes me happy. It does, but—
I couldn’t hold myself from shouting.
“Release date… To think you bought it on the release date, what were you thinking!?”
“Eh… W, what? Why am I getting scolded?”
“Don’t buy it… I have endured not buying it even though I want to read it, so don’t buy it… I told you I don’t want to buy famous works like this on the release date.”
“I don’t want to contribute to the initial sales of authors who sell more books than me!”
“Initial sales” is a term used to denote sales which is calculated from the release date to several weeks after. Another similar term would be “early sales”.
In the light novel industry, initial sales hold a very important meaning. Saying that initial sales constitute 90% of it is not even an exaggeration. For a light novel which just got its first volume published, decisions like “a second volume won’t be released” or “this series will be axed on the second volume” can be made just from looking at the sales in the first 1-2 weeks.
Also, the Oricon charts that everyone loves mostly contain the data of initial sales.
For an author who is especially concerned with Oricon charts like me, it’s not an exaggeration that initial sales make up more than 90%, or even the entirety of light novels.
“The fact that you bought this today means… you have contributed to Dramachi’s initial sales. Damn, you’ve done it… It will definitely come out with an even more ridiculous number of sales on Oricon… With this single copy included in the equation, it will definitely come out with a ridiculous number of sales added with this single copy on Oricon…!”
“I, I don’t get it.”
“Hm. Well, someone like you who is doesn’t care about the light novel world wouldn’t be able to understand this suffering.”
“What I can understand is how you are a person with a small caliber.”
She only understood the most essential of things.
That’s so considerate of her.
“To put it simply, you don’t want to contribute sales for a hot-selling work by a hot-selling author, right? Then, isn’t it fine to purchase secondhand books?”
“Nonsense. As a pro light novel author, why would I buy secondhand light novels?”
I don’t have anything against the practice of secondhand markets. However, buying secondhand books won’t contribute a single yen to the author or the publisher. As someone who has entered the publishing industry, I have steeled my resolve to buy as many books in a brand new condition as possible.
“In order to contribute to the light novel industry, I want to buy as many books in a brand new condition as possible. However, I don’t really want to buy brand new books of the works that are selling more than mine—as I was stuck between my love for the industry and my feelings of jealousy, the compromise that I finally decided upon is a mental control method of ‘buying the books from authors who are selling more than mine two weeks after the release date. For every light novel author with a small caliber all over the country, feel free to copy me.”
“…Don’t talk about things like that with such a smug face.”
“And so, the sole weakness of this mental control method is that to a certain degree, I couldn’t buy any book until my own work started selling. At the time my debut work was axed in the third volume, almost all the other light novel authors sold more than me. I couldn’t even buy a single light novel on its release date… Looking back, it was really bothersome.”
“There is a limit to getting caught in one’s own trap, you know!”
Right after her retort, Yuma exhaled deeply.
“Huff… You really never change at all, always being so crooked in a lot of ways. Even though you have become a proper adult… This is why you became a loner in college.”
“I, I’m not a loner. I, it’s because of that; see, I’m the type who picks my friends carefully! It’s just because I keep on carefully selecting my friends!”
“Just realize already, Yota. It’s not a matter of you picking your friends, but rather of you getting picked by your friends.”
“Or rather, not getting picked.”
My heart got smashed by her relentless, point-blank remark.
The fact that I am a loner in college is true, so I have nothing to say in return. Someone once said this: “A friend in college is a friend for a lifetime.” If that’s the case, what should a person who doesn’t make any friends in college do? What? Is it already decided that I will be a loner my whole life?
In the first place, making friends in college is too much of a hurdle.
During school, since we were being forcefully crammed into a box called classroom, there were a lot of chances to get along, and there were even cases where someone would call out to you even if you remained silent.
However, colleges are especially harsh for people with a passive nature. Even though a lot of riajuu events are being held here and there, nothing will happen if you don’t actively participate.
How to say this; it takes lots of calories overall.
While there are people out there who can easily fit in that sort of social disposition without breaking a sweat, it’s impossible for someone like me. It’s not like I wanted to put on airs, but I don’t really have any willpower or guts to try matching the pace of my surroundings.
After all, I don’t really hate being alone.
That’s why I chose being an author as a profession anyway.
“Since it was so painful living your life as a loner in college, you took a temporary absence and became a shut-in, right?”
“That’s wrong! Stop assuming the truth as you please! Haven’t I already explained to you that it was because I was busy with the anime adaptation!?”
“Ahaha, was it?”
Yuma chuckled, and then,
“But Yota, you are really awesome.”
She said those words with a distant look.
“Even though you are a college student in the same year as me, you are actually working, earning money, and even paying your taxes properly; you are already a full-fledged member of society.”
I’m honestly troubled, suddenly getting complemented like that. That’s too much of a contrast right after bullying me for being a loner. If you got me down and then praises me like that… that would make me too happy, damn it.
As I was getting embarrassed,
“What’s up with that, all of the sudden? That’s creepy.”
Being unable to say nothing but abusive words, I said those words.
“Hey, what’s that for!? Even though I went out of my way to praise you!”
Yuma puffed her cheeks. Although we did continue quarreling a bit after that, it was over when we both got tired and went back to minding our own business. That was the relationship and sense of distance that Yuma and I, two childhood friends with a long-term relationship and nothing else, had.
[i] One room apartment with kitchen; a type of Japanese apartment layout.