Publishing a Book in China
The feeling of strolling down an aisle in a bookstore and seeing someone thumb through your book is a feeling you'll never forget. It's extremely difficult to attract an agent and publisher unless you've been published before; a catch 22 which is difficult to overcome. This being said, you might want to think about publishing your work in China. The process of publishing is quite different from that in other countries, but English authors are in high demand there.
Unlike English speaking countries where the publisher advances an author money, in China, the author pays the publisher. Publishers in China are few, compared to America or other countries and books are much cheaper to buy. Using a Chinese publisher will get your book into bookstores and online with no hassles. Sure, you must still promote it yourself, but as an English author, it's very easy.
A typical publisher in China, for example, South China University of Technology Press published my book for 25,000rmb ($4,000 roughly) in 2009. It was nearly 200 pages, approximately 58,000 words, no photos, and paperback. They printed 1,000 copies to start, to be distributed to Xin Hua Bookstores in selected large cities throughout China. This publisher was, at the time, one of the top five publishers in China. I researched many of the top ten publishers and they all came in between 20,000rmb ($3,200) to nearly 40,000rmb ($6,400).
Unless you hire a marking company to help promote your book, you're pretty much on your own. I am still in contact with a marketing firm from Hong Kong. The owner, Anna Fang, is an award winning PR company who works from China, Hong Kong and California. She was too expensive to hire, but she was kind enough to guide me with information and steps I should take to promote my book.
The first thing I did was a book launch party. I rented a large room in a four-star hotel and provided finger food, an open bar and music. I displayed posters around the city I lived in, with pictures of my book and I. On the posters, it stated the date and time of the party. I invited everyone! The book signing was a huge success. Many people purchased ten or more books to give to other people.
After that, I made arrangements with the bookstores to offer free book signings for them. Again, a huge success!
The third thing I did, was to speak at Universities and High Schools. I hired crew to come in and film my performances. Audiences of up to 4,000 students attended. It didn't really matter if they could read English, the fact they had a signed book by a "real" author was good enough. I received many gifts from students as well as sold hundreds of books. I also offered them a DVD for an additional price when it came out, which I sold hundreds more.
Self-promotion is time consuming and expensive, but if done properly, you'll come out on top.
The fame was glorious. I ended up on TV presenting a book to a government official and displayed in newspapers. There were few places I could go in the city without someone wanting a picture and autograph. I realized how burnt out celebrities must get after awhile, and here I was, just a small time writer with a book that most couldn't even read. Since then I moved to other parts of China, but recently have moved back to the city I started in. Surprisingly enough, I'm still recognized at times, "Hey, aren't you the guy who wrote that book?"
I didn't make a huge amount of money, but that wasn't my purpose. I just wanted to be able to leave something behind after I departed this world. I presently work as a freelance article writer for many magazines here in China, and currently finishing up a nonfiction based on a screenplay I wrote. I think this next time around, I'll shoot for the "fortune" part of fame, and see how that goes.