Self-publishing in the Chinese language is not exactly one issue with self-publishing in China, although as an author who writes in Chinese or wants to have a Chinese-translation for your book, ideally you want to target both oversea Chinese-speaking readers (over 50 million according to wiki in 2012
) and those residing in mainland China(1.3 billion cell-phone users in China in June 2015
and 25 million people in China only read on their mobile devices according to Reuters
While you may have heard about the content censorship in China and how you have to pay for the editing + printing out of your own pocket, on top of a long and grueling process and a very small royalties share when it comes to the traditional paperback publishing, what about the self-help digital publishing channels in China? Yes, there are such things but there is a catch.
Assuming you or your translator/Chinese-language-book-agent understands Chinese perfectly, I am going to expose you to two major self-publishing platforms in China:
is the digital-publishing arm of Intellectual Property Publishing House Ltd, a national publisher of China. The front page of Laichushu spans a glaring yet welcoming message to you as an author, indicating you are the 26,407th(last time I checked) author presumably going to register for their service.
Is it free? We all have to ask. It depends. It depends on the quality or rather the judged quality of your book by their editors. In another word, the aspiring author’s work needs to be proven. Before a new-starter in the writing business screams off to dive into the arms of Amazon KDP, it is worth a little time to make sure we turned every stone here on Chinese soil. Surely there has to be a selection process, first to make sure the content of your book not go out of the lines stipulated by China’s publication laws and secondly publishing your book will see a profit. How is this different from a traditional publishing process?Well, it takes less time- 2-3 months- in comparison, and there is the option of paying for part of the cost yourself to get it published.
By and large, there is an lowered threshold and the authors can see the whole screening/editing process with their own eyes, as opposed to the traditional practices- being kept in the dark and having not much say in the design or editing of the book unless you are such a hot deal that every publisher fight for your next book. Just like Amazon or Kobo, Laichushu also has a book marketplace yet I can’t find out exactly how many sales of books are made every day.
provides self-publishing platform service for book authors or columnists. It opens to everyone who is committed to upload more than 10,000 Chinese words per month. Once you completed your book, the pricing is up to you. You might feel more assured about the selling prospect with Douban’s underdog-favoring recommendation algorithm , not to mention the high-quality reader concentration on Douban. Douban has been the largest base for middle-class young people who love a “bourgeois” life style (life-style philosophies more than merely material possessions, artistic movies, non-fantasy books, success teachings, higher education and etc. characteristically appeal to them). The most popular self-published books on Douban sold more than 8,000 copies in a month. Authors receive 70% of the book sales revenue. By the way, there is a screening process for your content as well but mainly for censorship reasons. As a major information distribution service provider, Douban has to strictly adhere to China’s publication/ information distribution laws.
What if you can’t be bothered with the hassle of those two Chinse platforms (they don’t have an English operation yet)? Or you might want to have more freedom in writing whatever you feel like to write, whether it touches a nerve with any government or not? That leaves you to the oversea Chinese reader market. Then the first thing that comes to your mind is probably Amazon KDP. Here is the thing: they don’t support Mandarin publishing. The list of supported foreign languages by KDP
includes Japanese or Manx, the relative minor languages considering the staggering number of Chinese-speaking readers in or outside of China. What‘s the reason for that? I wouldn’t speculate. The reality is that as self-publishing authors of Chinese books or Chinese translations, Amazon KDP can help you convert your documents into epubs or even make a paperback book for you but won’t put it behind their kindle-shop windows.
You might want to check out the detailed process Derek Murphy has gone through himself
. In that article, he also dropped names of tools he used to edit, format and convert his documents into an epub file, so there are practical tips to absorb aside from his frustrations with Amazon on this issue.
One interesting exception to the abovementioned “No-Chinese” rule with Amazon Kindle that I have come across is of author Faith Huang. Apparently, she was able to self-publish her first book (Project 30 Chinese edition) through Amazon digital services. Yet it remains a mystery how she managed to pull that stunt.
Since there is such a demand for one-stop publishing service that converts your document to ebook forms and brings your ebook to a valid marketplace, you can bet on finding a start-up that does just that. Fiberead
makes the grand entrance here. No upfront cost with one-stop service that even includes translation. What’s the catch? They take away 70% of the sales revenue and it is implied that they will select which book to publish. It is not exactly like Amazon KDP where there is no standard for the content. But if you know your book will sell and you do a good job selling that prospect well initially to the Fiberead editors, chances are that Fiberead will be invested in making your book a success.