Self Taught Japanese: A look back at 2020 and what is to come in 2021

By | January 6, 2021

The start of a new year brings with it a good opportunity to take a look back at what was achieved in the last year, and to plan for the new year. This applies to each of our lives, but it also applies to long-term endeavors like blogs. So I would like to do a little retrospective of Self Taught Japanese to see what happened in 2020, and what might happen in 2021.

As a blog, I kept a pretty good frequency of posting, on average around 1.5 times a week. My yearly viewers jumped 14% from 2019, and this is a great improvement considering the previous year increased only 5%. I was much more active on Twitter in 2020, and as a result gained a few hundred followers, putting me around 1700. I also got around 60% more traffic from Twitter than I did in 2019, though I know referrer statistics are not always accurate.

As a publisher, I published a total of 5 E-books, including my first self-authored book (about particles), putting me at a total of 12 books. I also did my first Goodreads giveaway for my Hayashi Fumiko book, and got a few reviews out of that. In addition, I received some nice feedback from readers about this book, which helped make it the most memorable project of the year. In 2020 I sold roughly twice the number of books I did in 2019, which is a promising trend, and my number of pages read as part of Kindle Unlimited was nearly three times greater. By the end of the year, I had all my books available on Kindle Unlimited, and all available for regular purchase for $0.99 USD (or equivalent price in other regions).

Another first in 2020 was collaborating with a Japanese learning site to list one of my translations in full. I also recorded and produced my first full audio narration of a story I translated. I want to continue to explore different ways to get my translations out besides Amazon. 

Continuing from 2019, I kept up my activity on Facebook, and have been able to drive more book sales and blog hits with periodic targeted posts that stay within the guidelines of various groups. I also had a few discussions with people interested in doing retranslations of my books, or people who want to translate works of an author I have dealt with to a language besides English (if I am lucky some of those might come out in 2021).

So what about 2021?

To begin with, while making a printed book and running another translation contest were both ideas I had in mind for 2020, they didn’t end up happening, so maybe we’ll see either or both of those in 2021.

While one of my personal goals for several years now was to have one of my translations published as a full length book (200+ pages), and though I didn’t end up doing that either in 2020, I actually have been thinking lately in terms of experimenting with the opposite––a series of shorter E-books, at least compared to what I have put out so far. There are many advantages to this, including shortening the average length of a project, and being able to be more nimble and adjust based on reader demand as well as other factors. For print books, clearly it generally doesn’t make sense to create books less than a certain length, but for E-books I think there is much more flexibility. It’s unfortunate I can’t sell a book on Amazon for below $0.99, but maybe that will change in the future. I’m also thinking of putting more of a focus on Japanese women authors in 2021, but I need to do some more research in that area to figure out how that will pan out.

I already have a new translation project at the draft stage (I ended up spending a large part of my holiday doing translation projects, which was nice), and another one planned with the initial research already pretty far along. I’m hoping to do a little more science fiction translation in 2021.

In 2021 I want to do more articles about getting deep into the details of translation, similar to my TransLiterary YouTube series, but more structured. There are some challenges here since much of what I do during the translation process has become nearly automatic, but it will be fun to try to make what I do and think explicit. Analyzing difficult-to-translate passages from my books is one idea.

I’m also considering making more quizzes about grammar, and maybe more posts for writing practice (like my Japanese Writing Lab series). Also I think I need to go through my resource list and maybe add a few more sites. I’m always open to suggestions though about topics for posts, sites to review, or translation ideas.

In closing, I’d like to thank everyone who has visited this blog––whether this is your first visit or your 50th––and helped make STJ the enjoyable project it is. I’d also like to give special thanks to those long-standing readers who have stuck around for years, some of which have assisted me with things such as being beta readers for my books.

Let’s make 2021 a great year of productivity, creativity, satisfaction, and above all fun!

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