Santokyo Den both wrote and drew the content of his yellow paper covered books. Sometimes he would write himself into his stories, for he makes an appearance in the `10 months in the life of a writer`. The reason we know this is because the character `Den` was written on his haori sleeveless jacket, and on his kimono stood the character for `Kyo` written over it haphazardly.
Kyoden (for short) might be asked by a `hanmoto` (or publisher) to produce a work, and would struggle away at his desk trying to come up with an idea for a story. This would go on for 10 months. Kyoden was encouraged through his `labor` by the figure of the midwife. When he turned the page, he is rumoured to have said `ah, another successful birth`, and produced three works while mimicking the crying of a baby.
If one talks about Santokyo Den, he was one of the small scale, fashionable writers of Edo, the model for many others. However, there were times when he would print off 900 versions of his work, only to see a mere 50 volumes sold. Even authors of best sellers had to go through periods in which it was difficult to produce anything. In the field of portraiture, Santokyo Den was quite talented, yet the figure of Tokyo Den that appeared in his books was portrayed with quite a dour expression. Despite this, his snub nose was known as a `Kyoden Hana`, and thus produced a very popular character.
The most successful writer in Edo was a man by the name of Ryūtei Itanehiko. For 13 years he produced 30 volumes of the `Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji` tale, with each volume selling over 10,000 units. This was a love story set in the Ō-oku and based on the Genji Monogatari. When one considers that 1 volume would be read by around 10 to 100 people who frequented the borrowing stores, there was hardly anyone who hadn`t read Ryūtei`s work.
Queues would form outside the front of bookstores before Ryūtei`s books went on sale which often meant that completed volumes couldn`t reach the stores in time. To offset this, copies of the book would be distributed along with binding string, and customers would bind their own books together.
In the midst of the serial of books, a rumor spread that `Itanehiko is ill`. The women of Edo were worried that they might not be able to read what would happen next and made prayers to various gods and buddhas asking for them to alleviate Ryūtei`s suffering. He was so popular that even the women in the Ō-oku prayed for his recovery.
The `Jirai Yagō Uketsu Monogatari` which was popular around the Bakumatsu era (1854-1868) lasted for 13 years and came to a total of 40 volumes. This was, however, written by a group of four authors. Nonetheless its popularity never faded. It seems that as far as readers were concerned it didn`t matter who the author was. If the lead character was good, that was reason enough for books to be sold.
The amount of money put down for the production of a book was, for serial authors, about the same money for a part-time or temporary job. There was no system of royalties, hence everything had to be sold outright, no matter how many versions were printed off. If a work didn`t sell, the author might only be given 1 small `bu`, however there were authors who made around 100 mon per work. They`d made arrangements at Yoshiwara and while away their time in comfort.
Though there may be quite a few authors with the popularity of Santokyo Den, if one didn`t do another job one couldn`t earn a living. Kyoden earned money administering a tobacco and small goods store depicted his store in the stories that he wrote. In the midst of his pictures, the most successful Oiran of Yoshiwara, actors of Kabuki, brides wearing the `tsunokakushi` would come and buy things from his store. It was a good way in which to advertise.
Shikitei Sanba, who wrote the `Floating Floor Beams` and `Floating Bath`, made a living in a chemist store. Takizawa Bakin, who wrote `Nansō Satomi Hakken Den` (`tale of the eight dogs of southern Satomi`), became a writer able to make a living based on his very first story. Until that time, Bakin had made his money working in a geta (wooden clogs) shop. (50-52).