Monogatari Novels is an established Spain-based publisher, planning to move into the light novel and Chinese novel market.
They have just announced their first license, which will be released in English and Spanish.
Anhk and Vlad from Monogatari Novels kindly agreed to an interview to tell me about their company.
Could you tell us a little about Monogatari Novels?
Vlad: Monogatari Novels is a publishing company based in Spain, that is expanding to the English market. We’re interested in publishing novels, light novels, manga, manhua, and all types of comics from Asia. We have an emphasis on fantasy and romance titles, including BL and Yuri titles.
When you say expanding to the English market, would that mean you already have some titles published in Spanish?
Ankh: Not light novels, but normal books.
We heard before that Tentai Books previously published titles in Spanish, but found it wasn’t viable. Is there anything in particular that you’re doing to increase your chances of successfully breaking into the Spanish market in terms of light novels?
Ankh: Yes, from what we know they didn’t have a distributor to sell books in bookstores in Spain. The Spanish market is a bit more conservative and people tend to buy books at bookstores. We do have a distributor in Spain and we plan on taking things slowly. There is a clear demand for Light novels from the Spanish public but bookstores are a bit more reticent at the moment. We’ll have to keep releasing them in an orderly fashion and eventually more bookstores will trust our products.
As you’ve mentioned bookstores, would this mean that you’re planning to release your titles physically?
Ankh: Yes, we will release our titles both physically as well as in digital format in both markets, Spanish and English.
Are you planning simultaneous releases or physical at a later date like some other publishers?
Ankh: No, our digital releases will be some time before our physical ones, for high-demand titles such as those that have an anime we will release the digital version beforehand in English. In Spanish yes, they will be simultaneous.
For digital copies, where will customers be able to purchase your novels? Will they be DRM-free on any platforms?
It will be sold on our website as well as in many different retailers such as Bookwalker, Amazon, Google Books, Kobo… There will be a full list of retailers on our website. They’re planned to be DRM-free on our store.
Going back to Monogatari Novels as a company, could you tell us a little about your team, whether you work with freelancers or it’s all in-house, and so on?
Vlad: So, we have a mix of in-house translators and freelancers that work in the industry based in the U.S., Canada, and Spain. We make sure to vet our translators so that the translations are of the highest quality, and that the translators have experience in the medium and genres we’re bringing to the West.
As we have a lot of readers from the industry, I’ll ask on their behalf: Are you hiring any staff or planning to in the near future?
Ankh: Yes, we’re especially looking for Chinese translators.
As I understand it, you’re an independent, employee-owned company. Could you tell us a little about how you established yourself in this area and started partnering with Japanese and Chinese publishers?
Ankh: Of course. We started the company back in 2021 and started publishing books in Spanish. We then started partnering up with Japanese companies in December 2022 thanks to our Japanese agent and in early 2023 we started our contact with our Chinese partners.
You mentioned an emphasis on fantasy and romance titles, including BL and Yuri. Is there any reason that you chose these?
The reason is primarily because we enjoy them and we’ve seen a gap in the market between the actual demand for those kinds of titles and the offer by different companies, especially when it comes to Yuri and in Spain.
We’ve heard that your first license will be a shōjo and historical fantasy light novel called A Weaver Spins a Tale of Blind Love (Moumoku no Orihime wa Koukyuu de Koutei to no Koi wo Tsumugu). Could you tell us a little about this title and why you choose it?
This novel is about a blind weaver that lives in the imperial palace but has supernatural powers. We’ve always been suckers for mystery stories so we were drawn to it. After reading the first two volumes we were hooked and decided on licensing it. The ancient Chinese setting is really nice, similar to other novels we in the staff hold dear such as “The Apothecary Diaries”, published by J-Novel, and it’s something we’d wish to see more in the West, as it’s a really popular genre in Japan and we think there’s also a real demand for these kinds of novels.
Localization style is often a controversial topic, with some preferring more direct translations, and some more adapted to the audience. What is your stance on this for your future works?
We have decided on an adapted style for the audience, whilst maintaining the original meaning and charm.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Monogatari Novels or your future plans?
We are a very motivated team that wants to connect with our fanbase as much as possible. We don’t just want to please them but to also let them have their say in what we license. We want to act as a bridge so they can enjoy the products that they want since at the end of the day we too are fans. We also really want to go heavy into the Chinese market as well as Korean and potentially even Thailandese in the future.
As a more personal question for each of you, even if unrealistic, what would be your dream novel to localize and release?
Vlad: We’re big fans of the visual novel Little Busters, so there’s a certain novel by Jun Maeda we hope to bring to the West, and hopefully meet Jun Maeda in the process.
Ankh: For Spanish: Adachi and Shimamura. For English: Nekogarizoku no Osa, a novel written by Jun Maeda. We’re big fans of all of his works in the visual novel genre (CLANNAD, Air, Little Busters!) and this company actually exists thanks to him since we all met each other through our shared love for his works, especially Little Busters!
Finally, where can people follow you to keep updated on your work?
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.