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Ring-ring: Your Novel is Ready

3 December, 2007

Rin, a 21-year-old nursery school teacher, has become one of Japan’s most popular fiction writers this year. Her novel, Moshimo Kimiga (If You …), is about a high-school romance and a girl’s fight against HIV.

But the most fascinating aspect of her success is that her book started as instalments uploaded to an internet site and then sent out to the phones of thousands of subscribers. Since being converted into hardcopy last January, it has sold more than 420,000 copies. And there’s more: Rin typed the whole story on her mobile phone.

Justin Norrie, who has reported on this phenomenon for the Sydney Morning Herald, says that in the first half of this year, half of Japan’s Top 10 fiction list were composed on mobile phones. These popular mobile phone novels (keitai shousetsu) have made their authors a fortune, selling an average of 400,000 copies.The usual writer of the mobile phone novelist is a first-time writer, who writes under a one-name pseudonym. Stories cover teen issues, eg romance, sex, drugs, etc.

The readership is mainly young females readers who check their mobiles constantly. The mobile-novel is easy to read on mobiles because the authors rely on one-liners, emoticons and spaces (to show a character is thinking). Norrie writes, ‘Scene and character development are notably missing.’

Another mobile-novel, Mika’s Koizora (Love Sky), sold more than 1.2 million copies since being released as a hard copy book last October. The story, soon to be made into a movie, is about a high-school girl who is bullied, gang-raped, becomes pregnant and has a miscarriage.

Why buy a book after reading the installments on a mobile? As the story unfolds, the mobile-readers often email suggestions and criticisms to the novel’s website. Because they feel they’ve contributed to the story, they buy the hard copy as a keepsake.

Maho no i-rando (Magic Island) is a site that provides tools to help readers create their own mobile phone novels. It has accumulated nearly 1 million works since being set up seven years ago.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Dec, 07.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. 16 December, 2008 4:32 am

    Though there’s nothing like the services offered in Japan that allow people to upload a mobile novel here in the U.S., I’ve been trying to write a version of a mobile novel for the last 7 months. Initially I send the text messages to a single reader via cell phone and then post the whole thing to a blog.

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    • Marsha permalink
      16 December, 2008 5:58 pm

      Hi Ian, Thanks for the link to your website. I think the Japanese phone novels are usually quite short. How do you handle writing short, frequent bursts of your novel over a long time period? Any particular writing tricks that work for you? Your experience would make a good article for a magazine.
      Marsha

      Like

  2. 20 April, 2008 5:55 am

    How interesting. I am terrible with texting a few words, let alone a novel. Wow. Now my 22 year old neice is a different story. She’s a wiz. I guess writing a novel on a cell phone really is a young person’s game.

    And here I thought I was on the cutting edge writing one on a blog site.
    Hi Brian, When I write, I pour our the ideas, then edit. I wonder whether the ‘cell phone’ writers edit much at all.
    But think how convenient a texted novel is if we have the digital skills. Whenever we’re at a boring meeting, or on a long train commute, we could instead spend the time productively creating our a novel!

    Like

  3. Marsha permalink
    4 December, 2007 11:04 am

    Isn’t it a crazy story? I can barely create a single message on my mobile, let alone a whole novel. And as if writing a novel isn’t difficult enough doing it the traditional way! Thanks for the link in with your site.
    Marsha

    Like

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  1. Cellphone Fiction? Who Knew… « A Novel Spot

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