Earning the second volume
This is just something I've been thinking about recently, it came up up partially in the alternative licensing topic but I thought it deserved its on topic so I decided to make this one.
I thinks its fair that when an author launches a series you need to truly earn your second volume. If volume 1 doesn't sell then you don't get a volume 2 I think that's fair.
But how do we apply that when we are translating an existing series. Currently the system here is set up so we have a certain amount of confidence that regardless of how well volume 1 does we will get volume 2 but is that really fair. If say Sam licenses a series and no one here really cares for it and doesn't sell well should J-novel club or really any publisher feel obligated to translate the rest of the series. I realize the English light novel community has had issues with this in the past like with Shakugan no Shana which only had 2 volumes released and then it stopped but at the same time if the publisher wasn't making money off it are they really obligated to continue.
On the other hand their is a trust issue, if a series is say 10 books long and the community knows this and vol 1 is released, if the community isn't sure it will get volume 2 for sure then it might scare them off from picking up volume 1 in the first place.
Another point is locking a translator to a series, a translator can only work on so much at one time and if by chance a series is poorly received here he could be stuck working on an unpopular unprofitable series for who knows how long. If that was the case could their not be a case made for abandoning that series so he could move on to something we could potentially like better.
These are just a couple points I've been thinking about and I thought I'd like to hear some other thoughts on this.
I think there will always be some series that just does not sell and loses the company money or not popular enough, I hear Occult Nine is kind of like that; However, there should be many many more series that make the company money and a few that give lots of money or are really really popular. I feel like it is much better, in the long run, to keep translating a series that is doing poorly. as this builds trust and people will more likely buy your books as they know there is nothing to fear about a series they love getting abandoned (whether the series they love is popular or not).
I think it would be a complicated business decision. I would be truly curious to know exactly how much value the reputation of "never abandoning a title" is really worth. Obviously there's a fair amount of vocal anecdotal evidence here, but this community is also probably quite biased. Another thing to keep in mind is that the series may be cancelled or die off in the original Japanese at any time, too.
A community not buying a book because subsequent volumes might not come is really just a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's why companies constantly telling you current sales affect future sales is important, even if sometimes annoying / frustrating. Sales are your opportunity to vote... your wallet is the only vote that really counts.
From what I've gathered from various JNC Curiouscat answers, it seems the "trust" issue of completing translation on books extends to the relationship with Japanese publishers, too.
This is just my opinion from someone with no formal business knowledge, but I think having some underperforming titles in a catalog is a good thing for any media company (JNC, anime licensors, etc.). Their very presence helps make a catalog more appealing overall, which will attract more customers even if they don't buy the titles in question. (This is especially helpful when a subscription model is available like with JNC.) Also, I think there's an extent to which by showing support to "low-selling" genres, you might grow that genre's audience to the point where it becomes more profitable. Again, though, I'm no businessman, so grain of salt and all that.
Falcade last edited by Falcade
No, earning the second volume in English translation would be absolutely terrible imo. The light novel community is a niche as it is; we shouldn't push away more people.
That, and I'd be loathe to think we wouldn't get more than 1 volume of Rokujouma just because it didn't break even.
@falcade Even though I love it Rokujouma it is kind of a bad example in this case due to how right upfront we were guaranteed the first 22 volumes automatically due to the fan translation. Still I get your point.
Hosikuzu last edited by
I remember Nick Mamatas (editor over at Haikasoru) once said that licensing series was a tricky proposition for them, especially longer ones, precisely because they can't really afford to keep publishing books that don't recoup what they cost, and that it would be a blow to reputation from both sides (readers and Japanese publishers they partner with) to drop something halfway.
LoGH is one of the only things I ever recall seeing them poll (potential) customers on, almost certainly because they needed to gauge whether it could be a successful title for them before they went into it.
@eternal-wanderer Speaking of Rokujouma, I'm wondering what the release plan for volumes 23-current is going to be. Warnis will have all of the B-T material completed fairly soon.
@paul-nebeling Wasn't there talk of potentially a print box set kickstarter once it is finished? Now J-NC has print ability I'd like to know how viable that is.
@smashman42 I would definitely be interested, but only if the series is completed.