What's indent? -Komuro, who was appointed CMO of indent after leaving a platform company, talks about "the importance of the original story(gensaku)".

Hi there! This is the recruiting department of indent, inc.

indent inc. is a company that conducts content business ranging from the development of products that support creative writing to the production/publishing of works in various media including novels and manga. In this article, we would like to present an interview with Toshiki Komuro, who was appointed as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in February 2024, by indent's CEO, Yuuki Kamagata.

◉ About Toshiki Komuro

After graduating from a music university (majoring in music composition), he worked in the music/game industry before moving into the manga industry when he joined NHN comico, Inc. in 2014. In 2016, he joined LINE Digital Frontier (LINE before the succession in 2018), and since 2020, he served as the head of the Indie Project Management Department. In 2023, he was appointed as the head of the Content Production Office, to which the LINE Manga Editorial Department and the Indie Project Management Department, as well as the head of the 2nd Editorial Department, which is one of the LINE Manga Editorial Departments. In line with this, he became responsible for the overall original work production under LINE Manga, not only for the LINE Manga Indie. In February 2024, he was appointed as CMO of indent, inc.

Table of Contents

1. About the vision associated with CMO participation 2. The importance of the original story(gensaku) from the platform's point of view 3. indent's efforts to support writers aiming for their commercial debut

1. About the vision associated with CMO participation

Kamagata: Mr. Komuro joined us as CMO in February. We are very encouraged to have you on board as we work toward our goal of "expanding the number of places where Nola artists and their works can spread their wings." Could you please introduce yourself before we begin?

Komuro: Sure, thank you very much. Actually, I am a graduate of a music university, where I studied composition. I have a creative streak in me, or perhaps it could be said that I love to create things. After that, I was involved in the comico service right after its launch and in LINE Manga, so I have spent my entire life dealing with creators. Up until now, my main focus has been on manga, but I was attracted to indent, where I could be involved in the original stories(gensaku) at a place very close to the headwaters.

Kamagata: We first met about two years ago. indent did not have that many writers and works at the time, but I consulted with Mr. Komuro and received his advice.

Komuro: When we first met, I had never heard of indent. But when I heard about Mr. Kamagata's vision, I was surprised to find out that there were people doing such an amazing thing. I had been thinking about creating a platform for creators myself, so I felt that our directions matched. I had been paying attention to them behind the scenes since then.

Kamagata: It's my honor. When you were at your previous job, I contacted you for a consultation, and you invited me to lunch. At that time, I heard that you were writing down in a notebook about "the possibility of writers producing original stories(gensaku)," and you gave me a lot of ideas. A short time later, I happened to hear that you had quit your previous job, and I contacted you to ask you to join us, although it wasn’t quite realistic at that time.

Komuro: That's right. I felt a special connection when I received a message from you, even though I did not tell you about the resignation. When I quit my previous job, I hadn't decided on my next company, and I met with various people almost every day for the 100 days between the day I started using my paid vacation and the day I started my new job. Thankfully, I received offers from many companies. Just when I was thinking again about what I wanted to do, I received a message from Mr. Kamagata. In fact, I was so close to joining a company that I almost decided to join one last time (laughs). But when I thought, "Which company is the closest to creators?” I realized something. Even from a third-party perspective, I felt that the vision I had heard about from Mr.Kamagata two years ago and the way it had actually taken shape were connected. I felt that the direction that you, the management team, and everyone else in the company were facing was correct, and I recognized that in terms of numbers. It made me believe that indent would be increasingly exciting.

Kamagata: We consider writers to be the most important, and we founded the company with the desire to expand the possibilities for writers. That desire remains unchanged to this day. To be honest, we have managed to build a system through hard work in the publishing business, so we are very happy to be working with you at this point in our history

Komuro: Lately, I often wonder how many more years I can contribute to the world. That is why I want to continue to pass on what I have, both in terms of writers and the connections I have with companies. I've only been here a few weeks, but when I talk to publishers, almost everyone I talk to says, "indent is doing such amazing projects?” and that is delightful.

Kamagata: You have accumulated achievements in the past on a huge platform, and you have focused on a place where writers can write commercially. I feel like our mentor has finally arrived.

Komuro: Looking back, I spent about 8 years at LINE Manga. The area I put the most effort into was indies. I think what we, as a company, can offer to the artists is "preparation for batting". Of course, one way of preparing is for the writers themselves to announce their works on social networking sites, but it is still difficult for them to create their own batting cage. We had a service in place before I joined the company, but we didn't have the capacity to operate it, so we launched a project to give writers a chance to bat. I have fond memories of the birth of such representative works as "Senpai wa Otokonoko(My Senpai is Femmeboy)" written by Pom.

Kamagata: Launching a platform seems to take a lot of energy because it is a big business and a medium- to long-term project.

Komuro: It was difficult to gain understanding in terms of launching a new label, but we continued to work steadily. Generating something new tends to bring about complications, but thanks to the presence of collaborators who gave us advice, the process went smoothly from the beginning.

Kamagata: Even with the heavy burden of promoting new possibilities within a company, Mr. Komuro paved the way. I hope that having such a person on the management team will be a source of hope for both indent and the writers.

2. The importance of the original story(gensaku) from the platform's point of view

Komuro: What you want to make and what sells are different, but the kind of work that sells isn’t necessarily ‘good'. Companies simply say, "Write something that will sell," but I wonder what that is. It goes like: Hmm, it is not enough to imitate benchmark works, but originality is also necessary……oh, or is it better to create something that I think is entertaining……? On the other hand, if the work doesn't sell, no one will be happy. I have to somehow find the right balance of compromising. That’s why when I interview the creators about the work they want to make, I may ask them, "Why not add a little bit of the trend?" or "This kind of story is popular these days."

Kamagata: While I think the writers and their works themselves are important, it is always difficult to find a way to make them fit in with the market. On the other hand, it is not good if either party has too much power, so I hope we can build a relationship based on a sense of mutual trust.

Komuro: I agree. I hope that the world will become a place where works that shine with the individuality of the creator can be widely sold. I believe there will be a market where the Nola writers can expand their activities, and my mission is to connect the writers with companies.

Kamagata: In that sense, last month we reported on our "Total IP Development Package" initiative. With the anime and comic markets growing overseas as well, I hear foreign companies and audiences comment, "Japan has a lot of good works indeed." That is why we want to invest in this project as a new business. I think it is difficult for new companies to take the plunge, so I believe that just having them think of us as a place to consult when they are considering IP will make a difference.

Komuro: indent's challenge is something that other companies cannot do easily. The reason we can do this is exactly because so many writers are using Nola, and so many works are uploaded on Nola.

Kamagata: That's right. When we talk about good works, we tend to focus only on those that sell well, but I think what defines a work’s quality is whether people enjoyed reading it or not. If your friends around you enjoy it, it is a good work for them, and in the case of commercial works, I think the editors judge that. In that sense, I hope we can help the writers to be matched with a label or editorial department that likes their style and appeal.

3. indent's efforts to support writers aiming for their commercial debut

Komuro: This is a very important theme. Creators are lonely and busy. But when it comes to commerce, you have to do marketing to make a sale. They have to worry about things like, "I want people to read my work, but there's a chance that what I want to create won't fit." But no matter what direction you take, if you focus on commerce, I think you should watch what's going on in the world. There are artists who are afraid of putting their work out into the world, because of the possibility of being criticized. But the most frightening thing is that there is no wind at all. Having no opinions, good or bad, is scarier. That's why I often tell them that "just putting your work out there is good for promotion and marketing." It's hard and it's tough, though.

Kamagata: I used to be a writer myself, so I understand the tension. indent’s online publishing platform “Nola Novel” was launched and is operated with the idea of creating an opportunity to be seen by companies and editors. We have been working with an increasing number of companies since then.

Komuro: Up until now, you had to analyze the characteristics of each publisher before submitting your work, but if you register on "Nola Novel," the type of stories that publishers want are written right there on the site. It’s good, huh? Writers are busy writing, so to give them an awareness of the style that the editorial departments are looking for is a part of what we platformers should be working on.

Kamagata: Yes, that's right. It is faster when you could have the companies tell you what they are looking for, rather than trying to analogize trends. I think it reduces hesitation from writers.

Komuro: Many people who are active as commercial writers are early adopters. It is very important to jump at new things, to try new technologies, to register and touch new platforms.

Kamagata: In terms of trying new things, we want to lower the hurdles as much as possible through Nola. If we go bankrupt as a company, we would be betraying the writers, so we have to maintain a balance. However, the goal we are aiming for is different. We currently receive a monthly or annual fee from writers, but the most ideal situation is not to receive money from writers, but to provide a place for writers to write, and when we release works born from this place, we can grow as a company together with them.

Komuro: Right. In addition, what is important in making a commercial debut is to write with an awareness of what the work will be published as, whether it is a webtoon, a comic book, or a book. However, I think it is too demanding for writers to write with that much thought in mind. That’s when you should look at the "Editorial Board" of Nola Novel, so you can write with an understanding of the final form of the work.

Kamagata: I hope to add a function with which writers can test their work. Ideally, we would like to provide feedback and impressions of works submitted with the Editorial Board hashtag. To that end, we have a system where writers can see a footprint given on their work and episode pages by the editors. We hope that this will give writers a chance to find out for themselves why their works are not being read and what they need to change.

Komuro: In the future, I would like to provide writers with information on how to make use of Nola Novel.

Kamagata: Nice. Our goal is to be a company that can grow through co-creation with authors, eh? If you are someone who cares about original stories(gensaku) and authors and wants to participate in projects that expand their possibilities, I would be very happy if you would take a look at our employment page.

indent, inc. is looking for members to work with us to grow our business, including "sales staff" who will pave the way for writers to play an active role, "editors" who will work with writers to create works, and "planners" who will work on business growth through our platform. If you are interested, please feel free to apply. All of us are looking forward to working with you.

*Company names and product/service names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

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