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Old 2009-02-26, 23:52   Link #41
Mystique
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt122005 View Post
I agree with what has been said above.

Light Novels actually have more pottential to take the entire country by storm than Manga or Anime does. Unlike comics or animation, novels are and have been apart of american culture for a very long time.

The LN publishers of today mostly dont have a clue what they should be doing to help LN's sell.

For one, we should not be marketing to manga fans. Light Novels are not always loved by manga fans, in fact, usually there are huge differences in the minds of LN fans and Manga fans (I'm one of those that enjoys both. XD).

If teachers and librarians were explained about what Light Novels were, then they would LOVE them and actually PROMOTE them. Think about it. Most teachers and Librarians are NOT HAPPY ABOUT MANGA. They want their kids READING REAL NOVELS. If companies were to make educational materials and send them to Teachers and Librarians explaining how they could get their teens or kids to read books that had a manga theme, but were actually novels. They'd be all over it!

And as for average readers that are adults, how do you market light novels to them? By marketing it as an easy to read alternative for the busy worker of today. Tell them that they should read a Light Novel because you can read it in a day (which means if they read a chapter per day, they could read it with almost no sweating in a week). And ofcourse advertise it as cutting edge fiction with storylines that have not been seen in the WEST before and are imaginative and will capture the readers imagination.

And on another note, they also need to go onto TV. Sure they can't afford a commercial yet, but they could certainly schedule an appearance on Opera or another talk show where they could discuss their Light Novels and make millions of people suddenly aware (they'd better get a guy who is a good talker to do it though).

So yea, Light Novels have huge pottential. I certainly hope Haruhi DOES become a, as Yen Press put it, "Household Name". As I hope Spice and Wolf does as well.

-Marr
Okay, give me your sales pitch.
I love anime.
I'm a born bookworm.
I whore over novels but cannot get into the media format of manga/comics, it's just not something my brain compresses well.
I prefer to read line after line and have the movie play out in my mind's eye rather than seeing it on the page with frames, sfx and text.

Saying that, 'what is a light novel?' then?
Where does the 'light' aspect fall into it, how is it different from any random teenage fantasy or Harry Potter book?
Basically, give a quick rundown of 'light novels 101'.

-Thus clueless anime fan and bookworm would like to know
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Old 2009-02-27, 04:23   Link #42
Doraneko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystique View Post
Saying that, 'what is a light novel?' then?
Where does the 'light' aspect fall into it, how is it different from any random teenage fantasy or Harry Potter book?
Basically, give a quick rundown of 'light novels 101'.
Strictly speaking, light novels are simply novels published under light novel labels by certain publishers in the industry. I know it sounds incredibly silly, but this is the most accurate definition you can get.

Indeed the line between "ordinary novels" and "light novels" is getting thinner and thinner with quite a number of titles existing in both sides of the border already.

Generally speaking, light novels tend to come with (1) anime-style covers, with (2) anime-style illustrations and (3) anime-esque storylines. These are not golden rules btw. But you can probably understand that the extra effort on adding these features are for attracting (4) teenagers.

Scrap off the fancy external features, and you get a contemporary Japanese entertainment novel for teenagers and young adults. No more, no less. You might have written Haruhi in Japanese, but if you failed to get it published under LN labels, it would be recorded as an "bunko" i.e. "ordinary pocket-size paperback novel" in any book store's database.

So how about Japanese entertainment novels for youngsters? First, (A) each book tends to be much shorter than your average English novel. This is largely because of the emphasis on portability since most Japanese readers enjoy their daily readings during commutes. For long stories (eg Saiunkoku, Marimite, etc), they are separated into countless paperbacks, again for portability. Bringing your brick-like Harry Potter with you all day makes you look like a nerd and brings you inconveniences, but a regular Japanese paperback can fit nicely into your coat pocket, and can probably bring you more fun than your NDS/PSP.

Second, similar to anime and manga and unlike your average teenage fantasies, (B) they have Japanese as their target audience. This is both an advantage and disadvantage in the Western market. Anime/manga fans probably have enough cultural understandings to appreciate the customs and jokes. But people who overemphasize on the beauty of English prose and try to expect them to be a substitute to English classics will surely be disappointed.

More specifically (and with a growing number of exceptions), they have the following characteristics :

1. Extensive use of colloquial language
2. Plot and writing style influenced by anime/manga
3. Solely for entertainment
4. The writers are not exactly "telling" stories to the young readers, but sharing with them interesting stories written from the viewpoint of an average young reader.
5. "Media mix" - manga, anime and game adaptations/novelizations
(from wikipedia CH)

IMO the best way to understand what a LN is, is to experience it by your own self. Try to get a copy of Kino's Journey (Kino no Tabi). It was the very first LN I read, and I have been sucked into the LN world ever since.

Last edited by Doraneko; 2009-02-27 at 04:44.
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Old 2009-02-27, 05:37   Link #43
Matt122005
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Um, lol, I'll try to answer what a light novel is. But first, let me respond to what Doraneko's explanation was.

Light Novels are not simply Light Novels because they are published under a LN label. Sure, a small number of light novels could fit into this idea, but for many, they are in fact LIGHT NOVELS at their core.

Of-course, that is the question isn't it? WHAT IS A LIGHT NOVEL?

It is a perplexing question, one so difficult, and yet very simple.

For one thing, let me respond to what was said a light novel WAS.

Quote:
similar to anime and manga and unlike your average teenage fantasies, (B) they have Japanese as their target audience. This is both an advantage and disadvantage in the Western market.
I know you must have wrote that without thinking or as a typo. Cause that makes absolutly no logical sense. haha

I mean, no duh a light novel has a target audience of a JAPANESE PERSON. Shall we forget that they are PUBLISHED and WRITTEN "WITHIN JAPAN". I mean, what, you think Japanese authors think about writing novels for Americans or Brittish when they realize they are going to be published in Japan?

And what in the world do you mean by "unlike your average teenage fantasies".

Sorry to break it to ya, lol, but Eragon was written for the WEST. Harry Potter was written for the WEST. These authors never had any idea that their books might become popular enough to get translated into Japanese. So every novel in america written within america or the WEST is going to have been written to target the audience of the country its being published in. This is just common sense.

However, from reading light novels, I can tell you, there aren't alot of INSIDE JOKES depending on the novels you read. I mean, some light novels like Full Metal Panic and GOSICK and Kino no Tabi and Ballad of a Shinigami are easy for a non-japanese understanding person to get into. Heck, GOSICK takes place in Europe, not Japan.

Quote:
More specifically (and with a growing number of exceptions), they have the following characteristics :

1. Extensive use of colloquial language
2. Plot and writing style influenced by anime/manga
3. Solely for entertainment
4. The writers are not exactly "telling" stories to the young readers, but sharing with them interesting stories written from the viewpoint of an average young reader.
5. "Media mix" - manga, anime and game adaptations/novelizations
(from wikipedia CH)
Um, extensive use of colloquial language? Um, I realize you read Kino no Tabi, which yes, does have that, but that's simply because Keiichi Sigsawa chose to. If you read other light novels they can have virtually nothing but very simple words. While others may choose more literary words. It's really up to the author. But it is NOT true to say that light novels as a characteristic use this sort of colloguial language, it is only something that comes about as a choice of the author writing the light novel.

Your second point should have been worded better. Just because light novels have anime illustrations does not mean that they are influenced by Anime/manga. In fact, as a friend of mine told me, Light Novels go back farther than anime/manga ever existed. The entire idea of short novels with illustrations was invented long ago in China (if I am remembering the country he told me correctly). So although Light Novels may have anime illustrations, it is a good thing to remember that Light Novels are being TURNED INTO Anime and Manga for the most part, not the other way around. In a sense, Light Novels are creating the new standards of anime storylines.

The third point of being soley for entertainment is completely eroneous. Sure, the majority are, but not all.

Kino no Tabi and Ballad of a Shinigami (each 12 books so far in series length) are just two to point out that are DEEP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING, and EMOTIONALY TOUCHING, even touching on Philosophy. These are not simply for ENTERTAINMENT, but actually go far deeper than that, adding a meaning to the writing and creating an impact that is long lasting.

But yes, for the majoirty of light novels, they are entertainment (just like the overwelming majority of american novels being published). But this is by no means to mean ALL Light Novels as a whole are this way.

Your 4th point is highly confusing. Are you regarding to "third person (POV)" writing and "first person (POV)" writing? If so, again, you are wrong. Many light novels are written in Third Person, and many light novels are written in First Person. It just depends on the author.

Your 5th point about media mix. Light Novels are for the most part, not adaptions of existing anime and manga, its rather the other way around.

Your recommendation of Kino no Tabi is backed by me as well. It is in my opinion one of the best, if not the best, light novel series released in the US.


Ok, so after correcting whats been said.

What IS a light novel?

Well, its....whatever the author wants it to be. lol

Well, to be exact, here are some basics.

1. It has anime illustrations, even if just one.
2. They are typically between 40-50,000 words (and I don't want anyone saying that this is a novella, cause it isnt, 50,000 words is a typical minimum of a normal length american novel). However, some Light Novels do go beyond 50,000 words. And some can be incredibly thick. So, point being is, Light Novels can at times during a series NOT be LIGHT. lol
3. The writing styles have differences from normal novels you're used to reading. Instead of long paragraphs after another, you can have paragraphs that are maybe only one sentence or two or three. And some times you can have a sound effect like "WHAM" have an entire line all by itself, if you wish to emphasize the effect of the word in the story. Not only that, but the idea of a light novel is to simply say what needs to be said and say no more. The idea is to not be wordy, and have sentences that drag on. You as an author want the light novel to continually move the story forward with every sentence, only enveloping the reader deeper into the story.
4. The planning of a light novel series is very different. One person above stated that it was like taking parts of harry potter and chopping it up into a small series. But this isn't true. Light Novels are not planned by cutting up what would be a big novel into a smaller one. Because for one thing, considering that 50,000 words is the normal minimum length of an american novel, there's nothing too small about a light novel in the first place. Second, a light novel is planned from the beginning to have an ending and or cliff hanger to lead to the second book. The author designs the story to be a series. They dont get an idea for a single novel, and then cut it up, they from the beginning on average plan to writer each books storyline within the series.
5. The stories are different. Now, this may be a weak point, but yet, it deffinitly is a glaringly obvious ones. The imaginitive stories seen in Light Novels are not seen in books in the west for the most part, or at all. But this is mainly due to an overall inability of western authors to allow themselves to use their imagination fully. All they write about is on average what CAN happen and what they have seen. They never try to write stories that are completely imaginitive and unfamiliar to readers. Only a few try, a very small few. So although Light Novels can't hold onto this characteristic forever as exclusive, they are for now known largely for their stories, which can range from horrible, to brilliant, depending on the author writing.

And although the above doesn't fully explain what a light novel is, it attempts to.

And as Doraneko put it so perfectly, you really DO have to read a Light Novel for yourself to truly understand what one is. It's kind of a self revelation that your mind comes to after you read enough of them.

-Matt

PS. I have nothing against novels from Korea, China, India, or UK, etc. And I'd have no problem enjoying a story taking place in their country.

And as for burning old school books. No, I'd never advocate that. lol I'm simply saying that if the class isn't learing to LOVE reading through them, Light Novels offer a great alternative.
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Old 2009-02-27, 12:04   Link #44
Doraneko
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Hey Matt, for most part of your reply, you basically have explained what I want to say in a better way :P.

IMO light novels simply have little difference from Japanese bunko for youngsters, that have been existing well before the birth of the term "light novel" or the "light novel publishers." For example, Umi ga Kikoeru is in every way a light novel spiritually, but is classified as a bunko. At the same time, Sherlock Holmes is recognized as a light novel in Japan, but it is hard to fit any light novel stereotypes into it.

So I'd say the focus of the light novel debate is mainly between the technical side and spiritual side. A technical "light novel" is a novel promoted and published as "light novel," regardless of the content. A spiritual "light novel" is one that appears to be a light novel in terms of content, regardless of its origin or pubisher.

The latter is simply too subjective as a formal, exhaustive definition, so I mostly use the former. For example, most Japanese readers would agree that "Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou" is in no way similar to a light novel in terms of content and package: with a serious oil paint cover, no illustrations inside and a story that strikes most reader as a traditional folk tale for children. But since it is published by Dengeki Bunko, most will still agree that technically it is a light novel.

Other examples of titles that cross the blurry border of "light novel" and "ordinary novel" can be found in one of my previous posts. I spent more time writing that so most likely it is more coherent and you can see where I come from, especially on my viewpoint that why being "Japanese" and being published by "light novel publishers" are the only two definite characteristics of any technically recognized light novel.

You may scream DUH for the "Japanese-ness" characteristic, but the said characteristics is essentially equivalent to saying that "anime is Japanese animation, which differs from other kinds of animation because it is made in Japan with unique Japanese cultural traces". No one screams at the latter definition though . As stupid as it sounds, it is at least accurate.

But then getting too obsessed with technical details and accuracy is in no way useful in explaining a less-than-well-known phenomenon to the general public. It is like saying Newton's law is completely useless by quoting results you gathered at quantum level. So I tried to include some external views, including some glaring stereotypes, after emphasising the more accurate definitions.

Basically, every characteristic both of us have put forward, except the two technical definitions, are easily refutable, but it doesn't automatically means that they are completely useless.

For example, it is equally easy to find examples of serious literate LN and just-for-fun colloquial LN, though for 10 random LN you can get from a book store, most likely 3 or less will be in serious prose. (Try the classics in the early 20th century to see what non-colloquial works should be like.) It is easy to state ad hoc views like "LN can be philosophical or non-philosophical, literate or colloquial, wordy or non-wordy...". But no matter how accurate it is, it is not exactly helpful to those who have no idea of what the whole "light novel" fuss is.

Therefore, to make my explanation to Mystique less abstract and more "useable", I shamelessly quoted from Wikipedia ZH as I stated, which in itself is by no means exhaustive or highly accurate. For accuracy's sake, I included a cover-my-a*s note (which apparently is not on anyone's radar ^^; ) stating that there are more and more exceptions that deviate from the less-than-perfect list. So direct your dissatisfaction to Wikipedia .

Indeed, I even suggested Kino no Tabi as a starter read, and any Kino reader knows that they can rebut any light novel stereotype with so much ease. As for the so-called "unlike your average teenage fantasy", it is simply a response to Mystique's question of "how is it different from any random teenage fantasy." Again, check my previous post for more serious arguments. For a seasoned LN reader like you, I would appreciate if you could comment more on that post. It is much easier for me to have a more intelligent discussion with you on the definition of light novels, when I don't need to be bound by some watered-down stuff meant for newbies .

It may be a bit out of topic, but a number of professionals in the industry have recently suggested that after the rapid expansion in the last decade, LN has reached its peak, and it is both "the best of times" and "the worst of times" for the whole light novel industry. Try to put yourself into their own shoes and see the whole industry by a macro view. You may start to understand their joys, their worries, as well as my viewpoints on what light novel "was", "is", and "to be" based on that.

Anyway thanks for your time and effort in explaining what a light novel really is. Too bad that English is not my first language, and I have to apologize if there are times that my prose becomes too clumsy and difficult to understand.

Last edited by Doraneko; 2009-02-27 at 13:07.
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Old 2009-02-27, 17:29   Link #45
Matt122005
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lol, ok.

Quote:
So I'd say the focus of the light novel debate is mainly between the technical side and spiritual side. A technical "light novel" is a novel promoted and published as "light novel," regardless of the content. A spiritual "light novel" is one that appears to be a light novel in terms of content, regardless of its origin or pubisher.
I like what you wrote.

But it is true, Light Novels are really hard to accuratly describe.

However, it is not true for some people to simply say that the term 'Light Novel' is useless. Hardly.

Just like "short-story" and "novella" and "novel" are all technical terms used in literacy to describe works. So is "Light Novel" a new and emerging term, however more ambiguious.


Quote:
The fundamental storytelling/writing characteristics of "Light novel" as a category of novel is basically undefined. The only reason that you can see so many so called "light novels" in Japan is just because there are certain publishers there actively promoting their works to teenagers, and they conveniently label their lineups as "light novels".
I agree to certain degrees. It is true that light novels are not always written in a certain way and vary to different degrees depending on the author.

Sometimes I wonder if the only thing that makes a light novel a light novel is its "anime illustrations, short paragraph style, and imaginative storyline."

Remember though, its the AUTHORS who chose to be published as a light novel. It was the authors who WANTED to have it as a light novel. So in essence, the publisher has nothing to do with this, because its the original author who saw the vision of what his/her book should become. These writers understood what they were writing was a "light novel", and all the publisher did was agree with their assesment.

Quote:
Despite that it is being conveniently lumped with manga in this board, strictly speaking they are completely different in nature. Kagami from Lucky Star will surely give you a big whack if you claim otherwise
*Yells out to the public, 'be wary of Kagami's wrath towards those ignorant of light novels! be wary!* lol

Quote:
You may start by checking out a few titles like "Ningen Shikkaku" or "Kokoro". The "light novel style" of covers may turn you away. But these critically acclaimed literature works, well respected locally and overseas for decades, were published well before WW2 and of course the anime and manga boom.
Right, the important thing is to remember that they came BEFORE anime or manga. Not to mention that the IDEA of short novels with illustrations came even before WW2, much longer. So in essence, Light Novels are the oldest part of the anime industry, and one of the hottest, especially with the youth of japan.

Quote:
Basically the use of anime-style covers is just a gimmick to make the works more accessible to teenagers. It neither adds nor subtracts literature values, as your golden rule of "never judge a book by its cover" has been suggesting for centuries . Get one of the said books, peel off the covers and read the content. Your literature teacher will cry if you still say that that there is no literature value in it.
Well, I disagree on some points. Such as calling it a GIMMICK. For some maybe, but for many the authors genuinly want illustrations. For one thing, its more than just a COVER. There are internal anime illustrations as well. These illustrations aren't just a GIMMICK to attract readers, but are sometimes genuinly desired to accompany the written works by their authors. For example, Toradora!'s author always uses the illustrator YASU for her works because she likes his art style. She enjoys seeing her works illustrated. Keiichi Sigsawa as well almost always uses Kouhaku Kuroboshi to illustrate his light novel series because he likes his art.

However, the art should never imply a lack in literature value. For one thing, a good light novel can be read without illustrations and be just as great. For one thing, the writer writing it doesnt have illustrations, and the publisher who accepts it has to read it without illustrations. So essentially, illustrations simply add another dimension to the reading experience by allowing a visual component to enter into the equation.

Quote:
This is the SDF series by Hiroshi Arigawa, an award winning writer (Seiunshou 2008, long story category) whose portfolio contains a number of "ordinary novels" and "light novels". The three books above belong to the same series. The publisher initially published the first book under the Dengeki label. Later it had been found that the book was doing better in the working adults market, and the publisher eventually printed the sequels under another label catered to adults.
My only question is, did the first book have internal illustrations? And secondly, did the sequals, even though their covers were not illustrated, did they also contain internal illustrations?

Quote:
Another title which has been brought up earlier in this thread, GOSICK, is by Kazuki Sakuraba who has won the Naoki Sanjyuugoshou in 2007, a novel award well respected and well received in Japan. Interestingly, she has also written a number of books published both as "light novels" and "ordinary novels". The following is basically the same story published under 3 different labels. Sounds like fundamental market segmentation strategies in Marketing 101.
Depends, did the light novel version come first? Because if it did, just remember, the author WANTED it to be a light novel. And simply put, the publisher thought to make two other editions that would appeal to non-light novel readers as well, and the author agreed to it.

It's marketing, yes, but its not marketing to MAKE it a light novel, but rather to have it appeal to non-light novel readers. However, again, like the other series, did it have internal illustrations, and were these kept in the other editions?

Quote:
I would say the fine line between "ordinary novels" and "light novels", arbitrarily drawn by certain publishers, is getting more and more blurred. While in literature sense, such a line has never existed at all.
Well, if its published by a light novel publisher, its going to have a light novel cover? no? So isn't that in a sense a distinguishing characteristic? Or perhaps, not the cover, but internal illustrations?

In terms of literature, your right. There are small differences, but nothing truly amazing. Its simply a different way of writing a story, but otherwise, its still just a unique novel. Depending on the book, it can have great literary value.

Quote:
Of course there are light novels of poor quality, just as you can easily find poorly written works in US or UK. But making sweeping generalizations on light novels as a whole based on your apparently limited exposure to the genre, is as intelligent as calling Shakespeare's works crap just because there are porn novels in UK. To me, Japanese literature as a whole is in no way better or worse than English literature. While the latter should not be "underestimated" as you have suggested, it is counter-productive to "holify" it and reject works from other countries just because of differences in writting styles.
I totally agree, we shouldn't 'holify' light novels or reject works from other different countries. Light Novels are simply a unique type of novel that has large appeal. To call all light novels brilliant would be untrue, but to say a large percentage are, wouldn't be terribly wrong, but ofcourse would be either accepted or refuted depending on the reader.

But anyone who calls Shakespear's works crap, simply because of the difference in writing style, is very wrong to do so. Just like light novels have differences in writing style, in Shakespear's time, his plays were in a different writing style, but at the time they were published, it was normal. So you have to be able to appreciate the different writing styles of all writers from all parts of the globe and time.

Quote:
Will teenagers who hate classic literature with a passion actually read more when more light novels are available?
No, they won't. Not if no one is advertising or making them aware of the fact that light novels even exist. lol

You mention scrapping the anime covers, but um, lol, you can only do that in Japan. In america, we don't have those slip covers like they have for paperback novels in Japan, so you can't scrap the anime covers. lol


There, I replied to your points in your previous post. ^_^

-Matt
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Old 2009-02-28, 06:27   Link #46
Solafighter
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Originally Posted by Imagine_broken536 View Post
No prob there dude. n_n

I haven't heard of any news about someone trying to TL for this title. I might ask my friend to try making a TL for the prologue. It might be hard for him to make a immediate TL since he already have a project. But, I'll try asking him all the same.
Sorry for the delayed reply.

That would be awsomeness!
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Old 2009-02-28, 09:40   Link #47
Doraneko
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Thanks for your reply, Matt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt122005 View Post
Remember though, its the AUTHORS who chose to be published as a light novel. It was the authors who WANTED to have it as a light novel.
Although authors can at least state their preference, I am not very sure if they are always the ultimate decision maker on which label (LN or regular) their work is to be published. For most of the times, illustrators are also arranged by the publisher instead of personally picked by the author.

A writer's bargaining power is based on a number of factors, but mainly lies on their fame (and the sales figures that come with it). For a fledging writer, with no previously published work before and having knocked the door of every publisher to get their work published, very few of them would have a strong opinion on which shelf they want their work to be on.

After a moderately successful first publication, the writer will become a member of the publisher's team of writers. Subsequent publications are made with the input by the editors on the general theme, plot and other elements they deem necessary. It is very similar to the manga scene and unlike the Western novel scene.

Less than successful first publications can make a writer shelved, or in some case, turn them into those that specialize at writing for the ideas of someone else. Again this is very much like the manga scene, where some mangaka has to wait for enough fame and popularity before graduating from the period of drawing someone else’s story. FYI, the more traditional LN labels, like Dengeki Bunko, were initially specialized at making novelizations of games.

It is only when a writer has gained significant recognition in the market and commands a good size of followers, that they will start to gain more bargaining power on the format of their publication, plot, number of volumes to be released, as well as the illustrator of choice. Btw it is highly competitive to find Yasu as your illustrator. If you are successful in getting Yasu drawings in your book, either the editors really love your work or you already have a nice number of regular readers.

The only way to guarantee your work to be published on a LN label is to enter one of the LN competitions and get an award. For example, Arigawa’s “Sio no Machi” (of the SDF series) won the Dengeki Competition and was therefore published as a LN (yea it has illustrations inside). It is the only LN Arigawa has ever written. All subsequent works are published as regular novels (with no illustrations inside).

It is not to say that Arigawa must be sad about that. Given her current widespread fame, it is on her full discretion to decide whether to publish something as a LN or not. But so far her only LN is her debut work. It may be interesting to note that the re-releases of “Sio no Machi” is by the format of hardcover regular novel, so getting the LN is probably a bit difficult.

Also, there is still a weird and widespread thinking in Japan that LN is inferior to regular novels even though the situation is getting much better than before. It is not so different from the way Japanese rejects late-night anime while embraces late-night TV dramas. Indeed, many talented writers use LN as a stepping stone because of the lower entry barrier and later shift their focus to regular novels. Some later develop their field of specialization in the regular novel world, like children literature, science fiction or love dramas. But thanks to their positive influence on the contemporary novel field, the general public is getting more and more comfortable with LN.

You may find it weird that Japanese bookstores offer paper/plastic book covers for your newly purchased books, but they exist for a reason ^^; .

Anyway IMO most authors would love to see their works reaching a greater number of audience. The LN crowd, however large may be, is still a droplet in the vast sea of the general reading public. This explains why so many LN authors, if given the chance, gladly focus more on regular novels.

Quote:
Well, I disagree on some points. Such as calling it a GIMMICK. For some maybe, but for many the authors genuinly want illustrations.
Gimmick is a trick for sales/popularity boost in my dictionary. You are correct that generalizing all LN features as gimmicks is not respecting some author’s wishes, so sorry about that ^^; . But recently there are trends of increasing sales of classics by adding light novel style covers. Even though there are still no illustrations inside "Ningen Shikkaku", I bet Osamu Dazai is already spinning in his coffin lol. The idea of novels written in a easy-to-understand way to appeal to youngsters is by no means a new idea. But the LN features that to a certain degree define LN did not appear until the late 80s and are certainly later than Dazai’s era.

I personally enjoy the illustrations a lot and totally agree that it adds an extra dimension to the story. Some of my hardcore friends go as far as picking LN base on illustrator but not writers o.0 . However, unlike visual novels, light novels can exist independently without illustrations, without disrupting the flow of story or lower the legibility. To a certain extent, “with illustration” is a LN feature catering to the younger ones who appreciate illustrations, while “without illustrations” is another feature catering to the older ones who love sophisticated stories but get embarrassed with anime-style drawings. Adding illustrations simply for capturing the teenage market is registered as a gimmick in my dictionary.

Indeed my whole point of calling cover arts and illustrations as gimmicks is to explain to Yaulen that LN stories can exist on its own merit and should be judged by such. There is no reason to reject LN as “elementary stories” just because its way of presentation is different from its Western counterparts.


Quote:
Right, the important thing is to remember that they came BEFORE anime or manga. Not to mention that the IDEA of short novels with illustrations came even before WW2, much longer. So in essence, Light Novels are the oldest part of the anime industry, and one of the hottest, especially with the youth of japan.
We have to clearly define the terms first before we can have a common ground for discussion. Short novels cater to a younger reader base has been existing for centuries in every single country on earth, regardless of the existence of anime/manga. On the other hand, the origin of the term “light novel” is still under debate, but the earliest technically recognized light novel didn’t appear until late 80s.


Quote:
However, the art should never imply a lack in literature value. For one thing, a good light novel can be read without illustrations and be just as great. For one thing, the writer writing it doesnt have illustrations, and the publisher who accepts it has to read it without illustrations. So essentially, illustrations simply add another dimension to the reading experience by allowing a visual component to enter into the equation.
Well said. Exactly my opinion towards LN illustrations.



Quote:
My only question is, did the first book have internal illustrations? And secondly, did the sequals, even though their covers were not illustrated, did they also contain internal illustrations?
The LN version of “Sio no Machi” comes with illustrations inside, but all subsequent re-releases and sequels are published in the hardcover format with no illustration inside.


Quote:
Depends, did the light novel version come first? Because if it did, just remember, the author WANTED it to be a light novel. And simply put, the publisher thought to make two other editions that would appeal to non-light novel readers as well, and the author agreed to it.
The LN version of “A Loli or a Bullet” comes first, but that does not automatically means the author “wanted” to make it a light novel. As long as you are not the one funding the publishing work, you have to bargain with other stakeholders. The outcome depends on the power balance of each stakeholder.

Back to the book, notice that the first two are published by Fujimi. The last one is by Kadokawa. There is also a manga but it is out of today’s scope of discussion

Sakuraba started her writer career as a LN writer in 1999 by winning in the Famitsu Entertainment Award Novel Category. Since then she had been writing purely LN for a number of years. After gaining more recognition by “GOSICK” in 2003, she published “A Loli or a bullet” which marks her shift of specialization from LN to regular novels. She has not written any LN ever since except the GOSICK sequels. But her popularity in the regular novel field has been rising continuously, contributing her to win the Naoki award, one of the top novel awards in Japan.

Considering such a scenario, you can easily tell before publishing “A Loli or a Bullet,” her bargaining power is not exactly high. But how come she can make such a change with a single book? Scrap the cutesy shoujo cover, big-eye illustrations and the fussy title, and you will get a surreal and shocking story of murder and torturing: a complete departure from all her previous works. She also employed a unique technique of presentation to heighten the atmosphere. This book defined her uniqueness and appeal, helped to her to gain popularity outside the otaku niche and transformed her into a veteran writer. The very same writing technique is also employed in her Naoki-Award-novel “Watashi no Otoko.”

So after all these stuff, anyone can see her uber level of bargaining power. As her agreement with Fujimi has lapsed this year, she brought the rights of “A Loli or a Bullet” to Kadokawa. Her choice, as you have already known, is to re-release it as a bunko, without illustrations of course.

Sorry for the long story .

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It's marketing, yes, but its not marketing to MAKE it a light novel, but rather to have it appeal to non-light novel readers. However, again, like the other series, did it have internal illustrations, and were these kept in the other editions?
IMO each novel is inherently unique and has its own merits and own ideal reader base. Marketing can never make a dull book interesting. Instead, it is a mechanism by the publishers to maximize their potential profit by enhancing the existing information, anticipation and impression towards a particular book. However, the result of the publisher’s profit maximization does not necessarily mean a perfect match between the book and its ideal readership.

Light novels, being tailor-made to cater to a more specific segment with high purchasing power etc otaku, tend to bring more revenue in a shot term. Indeed it is relatively easy for the publihsers to adjust their marketing strategies, like creating buzz by some 2ch post or otaku events: cost little but effective. It is also safer in a sense, because poor story quality can be offset by illustrations, especially if the illustrator is a famous one.

To the authors, however, I guess most of them would like their work to reach the greatest number of readers possible in order to enhance the chance of each perfect book-reader match. They will also like the complete freedom in writing what they truly want to write. They derive their joy from recognition and reader’s support instead of merely profit. Therefore, if given chance, most of them will gladly shift their direction to the regular novel field.

The conflicting interests of these two parties are one of the factors shaping the current landscape of the industry. But scrapping all the fancy marketing stuff, packaging and politics away, what you get is a book written for young readers. Its future success still largely depends on the quality of the content.

That is the very reason why I have always been emphasizing that we should treat each LN as just another conventional Japanese novel, and judge it by its own merit instead of the category of label it is currently sorted under. Labels, publishers and classifications are bound to change, but a story with quality can transcend all these changes and deliver.


Quote:
Well, if its published by a light novel publisher, its going to have a light novel cover? no? So isn't that in a sense a distinguishing characteristic? Or perhaps, not the cover, but internal illustrations?
Izuki Kougyoku’s LN debut work, “Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou,” has an oil painting cover, a folk-tale style of story and no illustration at all. It is also the champion of the 13th Dengeki Novel Competition.



I simply can’t think of another objective way to technically define a light novel aside from the label it is under.

(OOT: Trust me, you can’t go wrong with any book by Kougyoku . She’s simply amazing as a writer beyond words . No frills, no gimmicks, just the traditional way of using well written plots and prose to move anyone to tears. If the Dengeki team is so confident to decide that no packaging is necessary to attract the otaku crowd, you can as well feel safe give a try.)

Last edited by Doraneko; 2009-02-28 at 10:07.
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Old 2009-02-28, 15:34   Link #48
Matt122005
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I am confused regarding what you have to say regarding authors in Japan having no control how their work is published?

I have a hard time believing this true....<_<

As I understand it, a writer no matter who he goes through has COMPLETE control over how his work is published. Even if hes totally unknown.

If a publisher believes his work will be good as a published book, then that writer is in control of how it is published.

For one thing, Dengeki Publishes both light novels and normal novel correct?

Well as any writer will tell you, and a publisher, each of the two publishign divisions of Dengeki will probably have seperate publishing submision forms that go to each individual section.

In other words, if they recieve a submission in LN division, thats because the writer wants it as a LN and the publisher, if they want to publish this author, will do so as a LN. But if its sent to the other normal novel division, the publisher knows to publish this as a normal novel.

The exception is if a publisher believes the story is not LN material or normal Novel material.

But as far as I know, in almost any culture that publishes novels, a writer is in full control.

And yes, I realize that most of the time, illustrators are chosen by publishers, but were not talking about them, this is about the writers.

Point is, the writer chooses which division to send the novel to, and depending where it arrives, that division will publish it as what they publish (either LN or Normal Novel).

-Matt
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Old 2009-02-28, 20:35   Link #49
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Originally Posted by Doraneko View Post
Also, there is still a weird and widespread thinking in Japan that LN is inferior to regular novels even though the situation is getting much better than before. It is not so different from the way Japanese rejects late-night anime while embraces late-night TV dramas.
Is it really that weird? late-night anime is mostly otaku-oriented, filled with moe, loli, or fansevice (or a combination of all). It's just natural for non-otaku people not to be interested in such things (or even to be grossed out by them).

A fairly good number of LN labels target the otaku too, and therefore also include the sort of content already mentioned. Imagine the embarrassment of being seen on the street reading a book with a loli on the cover; I would need one of those paper/plastic book covers you mentioned too then
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Old 2009-02-28, 23:48   Link #50
Doraneko
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Originally Posted by Kazu-kun View Post
Is it really that weird? late-night anime is mostly otaku-oriented, filled with moe, loli, or fansevice (or a combination of all). It's just natural for non-otaku people not to be interested in such things (or even to be grossed out by them).
"Weird" is just a personal opinion anyway .

Well I have lived and worked in Japan and outside Japan. In my home country people simply don't give a sh*t on what you are reading as long as it is not porn. Attaching book covers on your book will only make you look silly, girliy and like a primary school kid.

On the other hand. People don't give a sh*t if you read porn magazines on Japanese trains, but if you openly read some moe LN without book cover, good luck to you.

At least don't let your colleagues see you, or else you will be the next topic of jokes and laughters in the office.

Buying LN from Japanese bookshops is a pain too . I don't want to get into the details, but the fact is that most Japanese otaku get their monthly dose of LN through online shops.

On the other hand, I have to get LN from specialized shops in my home country. The otaku salesgirls are so open that they will say "oh it seems like you like lolis! Btw we have a new 18X loli game, wanna give a try?"

Weird or not, it is simply a different way of thinking that there is no way except accepting it.
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Old 2009-03-01, 00:38   Link #51
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Originally Posted by Matt122005 View Post
I am confused regarding what you have to say regarding authors in Japan having no control how their work is published?

I have a hard time believing this true....<_<

As I understand it, a writer no matter who he goes through has COMPLETE control over how his work is published. Even if hes totally unknown.

If a publisher believes his work will be good as a published book, then that writer is in control of how it is published.

For one thing, Dengeki Publishes both light novels and normal novel correct?

Well as any writer will tell you, and a publisher, each of the two publishign divisions of Dengeki will probably have seperate publishing submision forms that go to each individual section.

In other words, if they recieve a submission in LN division, thats because the writer wants it as a LN and the publisher, if they want to publish this author, will do so as a LN. But if its sent to the other normal novel division, the publisher knows to publish this as a normal novel.

The exception is if a publisher believes the story is not LN material or normal Novel material.

But as far as I know, in almost any culture that publishes novels, a writer is in full control.

And yes, I realize that most of the time, illustrators are chosen by publishers, but were not talking about them, this is about the writers.

Point is, the writer chooses which division to send the novel to, and depending where it arrives, that division will publish it as what they publish (either LN or Normal Novel).

-Matt
Unfortunately that is not how it works, it's more like the relationship between record companies and artists (or manga authors and publishers).
The publisher gains publishing rights and holds control on how it will be marketed and/or which label it will be published under .
The publisher also retains management rights of the author and demands exclusivity of their works before anything is published. That is why novels are mostly grouped by publishers and not authors.
This is because most authors are discovered through writing contests. The winners are given a chance to have their work published but within the contract it also limits the right of the author and certain rights are transfered to the publisher in exchange of publishing. Author applying for a contest is also required to waiver their right to the applied work they presented for the contest so the author is required to forfeit the right to have the applied work if he decides not to sign the contract. It's all written within the terms and condition of any writing contest sponsored by a publisher.
Both publishing rights and management rights can be bought back by the author but with a high price.
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Old 2009-03-01, 01:43   Link #52
Doraneko
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Tri-ring has explained the LN system perfectly. Indeed it is really more like the manga/record scene and is radically different from the Western novel scene.

A Japanese writer can of course send his work to whatever contest he likes. But in the process, it is possible that he has also unwillingly relinquished a portion of his rights (terms can be nasty in novel competitions). Until the writer becomes famous with enough bargaining power and the initial terms expire, the publisher makes most of the ultimate decisions regarding the work. Of course, out of courtesy, they will consult the original writer and get his opinions first. But how much these opinions weigh in the whole equation is another matter.

One of the ways to retain your full control is to set up your own publishing house and LN label. fund the cost and do all the marketing on your own. But that is too far-fetched for any newbie writer who just want his story to reach the public.
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Old 2009-03-01, 03:39   Link #53
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Wow.....that really is different......wow

I still wouldn't mind though. You still get published. lol

-Matt ^_^
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Old 2009-03-02, 09:49   Link #54
Doraneko
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Maybe back to the topic of light novel recommendations... ^^;;

I have always been wondering if there is any decent book club online with an emphasis on Japanese light novels.

Say, participants can choose a certain light novel at the start of the week/month, and they can then discuss the content in depth in forums or chatrooms.

I would be grateful if anyone can shed some light on this
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Old 2009-03-05, 09:40   Link #55
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I just want to thank Doraneko for mentioning this wonderful title in one of his posts. I wouldn't have given it a second thought if I haven't seen it on your post. Well, The cover art was done with an oil pastel (maybe paint) and there aren't any illustrations. I'd confess that I tend to buy new light novels by the cover art for most of the time. Then, I'd go check the plot summary and see if it suit my tastes. Upon picking up this title, I told myself that I'd see if only words were enough to move me...and yeah, It did. Deeply too. n_n



ミミズクと夜の王 (Mimizuku [Great Horned Owl] and the king of the night)
by Kougyoku Izuki

Plot summary:
Quote:
A girl arrived at the forest of night where demons lived.
Her temple was the branded with the number "332" and both of her arms and legs were caught in a chain that wouldn't come off.
The girl who called herself "Mimizuku" came and offered herself to the beautiful king of demons,
With only one wish upon her heart.

"Could you please devour me?"

The girl Mimizuku who wanted to die and the king who hated human.
Everything started during one beautiful night.
-----It was the story of a girl, destruction and restoration, beginning from the brink of despair.
The story was simply amazing. It takes you deeper into the story as you read on. Also, the lead character, Mimizuku's character setting was very different from the usual leads. She used to be a slave living in a town of thieves and cut-throats. She undergone extreme cruelty which made her emotion go numb, and her thoughts became unclear. The plot was dramatic and it evokes different emotions as you progress with the story.

Tears flowed from my eyes as I read the last chapters. I'd say it was great reading it, and I would be confident to recommend it to the light novel readers. Definitely one of my favorites now. n_n
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Old 2009-03-05, 11:45   Link #56
Doraneko
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My pleasure to spread the love towards Kougyoku's stories :P.

Mimizuku is a unique specie in the light novel world. On a shelf full of light novels with cute and attractive covers, it may look incredibly plain at a glance. But frankly it is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read.

Despite the story being relatively simple and short when compared with many popular light novel series, you can feel the author's painstaking efforts and love in crafting the characters and giving them true emotions. Kougyoku spends as much as one year on each book she has released: an incredibly slow turnover rate indeed in the LN industry. However this may also be a contributing factor to the high standard of quality prevalent in all of her works.

Mimizuku is the first book in her man-eater series. The second one in the series is MAMA, and the last one is 雪蟷螂 (Yukikamakiri) which was just released a few weeks ago.



MAMA is as good as Mimizuku and I would sincerely recommend it to you. As for 雪蟷螂, I haven't got it yet, but the readers' comments are overwhelmingly positive. I very much look forward to reading it.

Btw it is interesting that Kougyoku's books are incrementally moving closer and closer to the general "light novel style" in terms of appearance.

Mimizuku: a complete departure from the norm, with no illustrations inside and an oil painting covers.

MAMA: comes with a stylish cover with slight manga influence, a colour foldup with anime style drawings, and no illustrations between pages.

Yukikamakiri: comes with a cover that screams light novel. Readers report that there are pretty good illustrations inside too.


With a "normal" cover and no illustrations, Mimizuku can easily lure booklovers in the general public who enjoy well-written and moving stories to enter the light novel world. Incremental increases in light novel features can disarm their stubborn resistance towards light novels. After finishing the whole series, most of them should have been "converted."

Well, seems like every single step in the light novel publishing business is highly strategical .
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Old 2009-03-06, 06:51   Link #57
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Oh yeah, more Kougyoku Izuki titles! XD

I'd be more than happy to go for them n_n (goes to my favorite net-shop to order)

I agree that Mimizuku would be perfect for persons who doesn't like much of the usual light novel titles. It would give them something else to think about.
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Old 2009-03-07, 13:28   Link #58
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Im starting to like this theard.

Very soon, i will (try ) to write a recommendation about my 3 current favourite novels, which i have in my shelf. Sadly, uptill now, these are the only novels(and some mangas) i have and i want increase the number.

Later on, perhaps some of you people, who seem to know a lot novels and a lot about novels, could give me some suggestions.
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Old 2009-03-07, 13:42   Link #59
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I'll definitely have to check out Kougyoku Izuki's titles as they're receiving so much praise. Maybe these'll be the novels that allow me to expand away from just anime related novels.
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Old 2009-03-08, 05:53   Link #60
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Later on, perhaps some of you people, who seem to know a lot novels and a lot about novels, could give me some suggestions.

There are some interesting titles that've already been introduced, like Ore no Imouto, Gosick, C^3, Mimizuku, etc. I bet they're great stuff to add to your collections.
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