[THIS IS A NON-PROFIT TRANSLATION BY MAGNAVALON (https://magnavalon.com), PLEASE DO NOT RE-HOST/COPY TRANSLATION ANYWHERE ELSE]
The model for my penname “Yota Jin” is, needless to say, the taiyoushin.[i]
Turn “taiyoushin” around, and you get Yota Jin.
In the internet, this nickname of mine has been gathering respect and awe… but more often than not, it is used to make fun of me, with people calling me “Sun God-sensei”.
Since my real name is Yota Jinnai, I tried coming up with a nickname that can make the best use out of my real name, and I stumbled upon this in the end.
When I was in high school, I won the Newcomer Award Grand Prize from one of the long-standing light novel labels, Phoenix Bunko, and I had been juggling both schoolwork and my writing job as a part-time author.
Debuting as an author in high school with one’s first submission, not to mention as a Grand Prize winning work from Phoenix Bunko which has published a lot of legendary works before, there may be some people who thought of me as a genius who only appears once in ten years.
At that time, I also thought the same way and was in particularly high spirits.
However, that conceit of mine crumbled in a blink of an eye.
My Grand Prize winning debut work, ”Regalia Heart”—was axed in three volumes.
The number of sales for each volume was respectively 16.000 copies, 10.000 copies, and 8.000 copies.
It wasn’t selling at all. Despite being pushed as the work which had won the Grand Prize, it wasn’t selling. The “Honorable Mention” Prize winning work which was released on the same month sold a lot more than mine. It was originally planned that my work would have been axed on the second volume, but through the editor’s judgment that “it would be unsightly if a Grand Prize winning work is axed on the second volume,” I was allowed to continue writing it until the third volume. Hence, the third volume’s 8.000 copies are PX Bunko’s minimum amount of printed copies. Printing more of that would just cause them to suffer a deficit. And so, the work that wasn’t even worthy of getting 8.000 copies printed was axed without being able to receive a continuation.
My second work, “Never Ever Happy End”—was axed in two volumes.
The number of sales for each volume was respectively 14.000 copies and 8.000 copies.
It suddenly got the minimum amount of prints on the second volume. It sold even worse than my debut work which wasn’t selling well at all. It sold that bad. Its Amazon ranking on its release date was only in the five digits.
As the experience of getting my work axed twice left my body and heart in tatters, I kept on trying to come up with a new work with my editor, Kenzaki-san, and—
My third work, “Eiyuu Goroshi no Last Waltz”—gathered popularity among readers, and through the blessing of fate, was adapted into an anime last year.
Although the anime itself wasn’t selling very well, the original work’s sales received a huge boos thanks to the anime adaptation. With currently 10 volumes published, I received words of appreciation from the editorial department, saying that “if you want to continue, feel free to keep doing it”.
This may sound crude, but the more a work sells, one’s annual income will also increase. The more one’s annual income increases, of course the tax I have to pay to the government will also increase.
With my work selling a lot more thanks to the anime adaptation, the tax measure that I didn’t need to think about when my work wasn’t selling well is now something that I seriously need to consider.
One may call it a “shriek of happiness”, but to be honest… I can’t help but think “Really!? Does this country really want to extort this much money from me!?”
Progressive tax is really scary.
Tax measure was one of the reasons I thought about hiring an assistant. By adding the assistant fee to my expenses, I will be able to hold my income. After consulting my tax advisor, I was told that there won’t be any problem even if I consider the expenses of hiring just one assistant.
If I was going get my money which I didn’t use taken by the government, I might as well hire an assistant to help me take care of things and enjoy a comfortable daily life as an author.
Coming up with that idea, I ended up asking my childhood friend Yuma who was looking for a part-time job.
After finishing Eirasu volume 11’s store-exclusive bonus side story, I turned my head from my laptop and heaved a sigh.
I looked at my watch. It’s 16:30—alright. I finished two side stories in an hour. This is a good pace. Assuming one short story is worth 5.000 yen, completing one in half an hour will earn me a 10.000 yen per hour.
Yeah, not too shabby.
By the way, 5.000 yen for each side story only applies for Phoenix Bunko. I don’t know the price for publishers with different levels.
“Yota, I’m done arranging the bookshelf.”
Yuma called out to me. As I took a glance, countless books which were randomly crammed on my bookshelf are now neatly arranged as if it’s a bookstore’s shelf. All the books that were supposed to be scattered all over the room are also placed in the bookshelf.
“I sorted it according to the author’s name, is it fine?”
“Ah, it’s perfect. Thanks.”
“Good grief… You are an author yourself, so treasure those books, will you? You should have put them back after reading. Why are you leaving them scattered all around?”
She said it as if she was scolding a kid. No, I get what she meant. If someone is saying the obvious, no one will be particularly vexed about it.
“Then, what should I do next?”
“Let’s see… I wonder. How about making dinner?”
“…Hey, Yota. I am supposed to be the author ‘Yota Jin’’s assistant, aren’t I?”
“And yet, all I’m doing is cleaning, taking care of the laundry, shopping, and cooking… Like, isn’t my job basically that of a housekeeper?”
“No, even if you say that… The only reason I hired you was for tax measure, after all.”
To be honest, I don’t really know what an author’s assistant should do.
It wasn’t an employment based on my needs, but one for the sake of tax measure.
There is nothing to do.
A mangaka’s assistant would surely be tasked with helping with the manuscript, but what about authors? Oh well, it will just add up gradually.
“Huh, well… I guess it’s fine. Your mom told me to take care of you, anyway. Being able to earn money while taking care of you is already a huge profit for me.”
Yuma said it as she shrugged her shoulders. Being my childhood friend, Yuma gets along well with my parents too. My worrywart mother had asked Yuma who excels in housework to look after me who can’t take care of myself properly in a playful manner.
“But Yota, hiring me just for tax measure means… you earn quite a lot, don’t you?”
“Hmm, well, maybe.”
“…Frankly speaking, how much do light novel authors earn?”
Putting her hand in front of her mouth, she asked with a whisper. Even though I knew that it was a joke from her tone, after thinking for a while, I pulled my work desk’s drawer and took out a clear file inside.
“Eh? Wha, what is this?”
“It’s a copy of my tax report last year. My annual income last year is also recorded there.”
Since being an author is a sole proprietorship, I have a responsibility to report my annual income in a given period every year. It’s what people call “final income tax return”.
“…Wa, wait a minute! I, I was just kidding! I can’t look at this, I’m telling you! It’s your personal information, isn’t it!?”
“I don’t really mind, no need to be so bothered by that. In fact, please look at it. I am thinking of having you help me with sorting the receipts, calculating my expenses, and handling other tax-related things in the future.”
“Eh… C, can I really do something like that?”
“I will let my tax counselor handle the difficult stuffs, so no worries.”
After several seconds of silence, Yuma corrected her sitting posture and sit in a seiza.[ii]
“E, excuse me.”
“Why are you sitting in a seiza?”
“N, nothing in particular.”
After shouting with an excited voice, Yuma reached out her hand to the table in the center of the room and took the clear file containing the report.
“Let’s see… Last year’s annual income is… 2.500.000 yen, huh? Hm, it’s a bit lower than I expected. Even though I thought you released quite a number of books last year, I guess being an author is really—“
I couldn’t resist to butt in.
“You are missing a digit there.”
“Missing a digit, wait… One, ten, one hundred, one thousand—“
Yuma returned her gaze to the report, confirming the number of the digits with her finger.
And along with a shriek, she opened her eyes wide.
As she hysterically raised her voice.
“25 million annual income!? You earned this much last year!?”
“I, isn’t that great!? 25, 25 million…”
“Well, it’s probably amazing, I guess.”
25 million—when thinking about how much a college student who just reached 20 would earn in a year, it’s probably an amazing figure. However—
“…But still, it’s not something to be celebrated without reserve. There are lots of people out there who earn more than me, after all. It’s a figure I can’t earn without getting an anime adaptation.”
No matter how good you are, there is always someone better.
There is always someone better.
When looking at the earnings of a light novel author during the year that the anime adaptation aired, 25 million isn’t even a big amount. After all, it’s the kind of timing that would make someone think, “if I don’t start earning money now, when would I?”
The anime adaptation wasn’t a big hit, unfortunately, and despite the original work’s sales getting boosted by the anime’s airing, the series’ cumulative sales were more or less 700.000 copies. It couldn’t even reach the status of “1 million cumulative sales”.
It’s still a long way.
As an author, it’s still a really long way to go—
“B, but, isn’t it just four years since you started becoming an author, Yota? Thinking about it that way, you are quite amazing alre…”
“This is not a world dictated by seniority, so it means nothing. For example… You have met Dramachi’s author Fujikawa-san here before, right?”
“Yep. That tall and stylish person, right?”
“…Right. That person who is tall despite being a light novel author, stylish despite being a light novel author, good-looking despite being a light novel author, sociable despite being a light novel author, doing marathon as a hobby despite being a light novel author…”
“What’s with that vexing way of speaking…? Err, if I remember correctly, Fujikawa-san is your junior by a year, right?”
“Correct. Even though it’s just a year, he is still my junior. And that Fujikawa-san’s annual income last year surpassed 70 million yen.”
“His income a year before that also surpassed 50 million yen, I think.”
He is an author with over 50 million cumulative sales.
I guess someone like him can just sit back and relax. Despite not even releasing half the number of books compared to me last year, I can estimate that he earned over three times more than me.
And I’m telling you, Dramachi is Arihito Fujikawa’s debut work.
On top of being my junior by a year, his debut work got an anime adaptation, both the anime and the original work sold like hotcakes, he is also tall, stylish, good-looking, and… Ugh, how to say it. There is nothing I could do but curse the gods, right? It can’t be helped that I don’t want to purchase his latest book on its release date.
Maybe it’s because I’ve witnessed the accomplishment of a best-selling author who lives in the realm of the gods like that with my own eyes. I can’t even feel conceited with only a 25 million yen level of annual income.
“Some light novel authors are really that amazing, huh. But… how do you know about Fujikawa-san’s annual income, Yota?”
“That is… some sort of a special privilege for people in the same industry.”
Right after I debuted, Kenzaki-san gave me dark warning: “you can’t ask another author about their number of sales”. For an author, the number of copies printed basically translates to their yearly income.
For example, it would be absurd if a salaryman was asked “by the way, how much is your yearly income?” by someone they just met. An author’s sales are the same thing.
Regardless—if it is someone working in the industry, it’s possible to roughly surmise their annual income. Calculating it from their projected sales should do the trick.
Of course, since there are authors who take on other jobs like writing a game scenario or giving lectures, this is nothing more than a rough estimate.
“Choosing author as one’s main profession means their annual income will always be calculated by their fellow authors. It’s miserable, really.”
“…No, the only miserable thing here is that personality of yours, always getting fixated on other people’s earnings.”
Eh, but of course anyone would be curious, right?
[i] “太陽神”, literally “sun god”; reversing the kanji will create “神太陽” (Yota Jin).
[ii] One of Japan’s traditional ways of sitting which involves kneeling on the floor with one’s buttocks resting on the heels, back straightened, and legs folded underneath the thighs.