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Publishing a Book in China

Updated on April 8, 2013
(Source: Chinared)
(Source: Chinared)

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.

Couldn't write fast enough at the launch party (Source: Chinared)
Couldn't write fast enough at the launch party (Source: Chinared)
My book was written for students. Speeches at schools seemed appropriate. (Source: Chinared)
My book was written for students. Speeches at schools seemed appropriate. (Source: Chinared)

Cost

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).

Many universities paid for the promotional posters. (Source: Chinared)
Many universities paid for the promotional posters. (Source: Chinared)

Promotion

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.


Offered free book drawing (Source: Chinared)
Offered free book drawing (Source: Chinared)

Notoriety

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.

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    • chinared profile image
      Author

      Just call me, Rick 3 years ago from Asia, and all over

      Hi, DDE. Yes, it was quite the experience and allowed me to scratch off an item on my bucket list. My next book, Tides of Peril will be published in the U.S. this time. Look for it next year sometime. Thanks for reading.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Publishing a Book in China sounds an adventurous time in China I can't imagine publishing a book in China and you did it so well. It definitely must be a the best feeling to have you r book in your hands only a published writer would know that feeling.

    • chinared profile image
      Author

      Just call me, Rick 4 years ago from Asia, and all over

      Thanks, carozy. Yes, quite the adventure, in deed, and it can certainly launch a person on the map. It is a motivational nonfiction book named, "I'mpossible!", which was published four years ago, geared for the students of China. I've been told I'm the first foreigner in history, to write about such a topic for China, but I have to doubt it. Nevertheless, it's still fun! Thanks for comments and votes, carozy.

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      What an adventure! What is your book about? I hope it does well for you. I've never thought of publishing in another country but this article gives some good ideas... voted up and interesting!

    • chinared profile image
      Author

      Just call me, Rick 4 years ago from Asia, and all over

      Newauthor17... thanks for reading. As you may know, China censors politics and religion. Content containing scripture is more specific than mentioning categories of mind, body, spirit/self-help. Chinese people love those topics. Quoting scripture wouldn't necessarily be a negative thing, but I recommend asking a specific publisher beforehand.

    • profile image

      newauthor17 4 years ago

      Totally cool of you Chinared. Thanks for the tips, very helpful. I'd like to know if Bible based books (inclusive of scriptures) under the category of mind, body, spirit/self-help, will be permitted to be published and promoted in China.

    • chinared profile image
      Author

      Just call me, Rick 4 years ago from Asia, and all over

      Thank you for reading, glad you found it helpful. You're right, it is difficult even with connections. Sure, there's Kindle, and online books, but there's nothing like actually holding your book in your hands and smelling the scent of your achievement and hard work floating from the pages.

    • Kbdare profile image

      Kbdare 4 years ago from Western US.

      Thanks for writing this informational hub! I often have thought about publishing a book, however breaking into the published world in the US, seems to be difficult if you do not have prior connections. I believe this may be an avenue to look into, thanks again for sharing!!

    • chinared profile image
      Author

      Just call me, Rick 4 years ago from Asia, and all over

      Hi, Paul, thanks for reading Publishing a Book in China. My publisher asked me to complete a form. I do remember it asking if the book contained any political or religious content. That's all I needed on my end, if my publisher needed to do something else, I didn't know. The book, "I'mpossibe" is a self-help book written for students and people of China. There is some mention of religion, but under no circumstances is it meant to persuade someone. You're right, political topics are censored, as well as religion. Social topics? I'm not sure, it probably depends whether or not it has potential to influence people here. Thanks for the read again

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      chinared,

      This is a very interesting and useful hub on your experiences of publishing in China. Knowing that China is a Communist country with press freedom unlike western countries, was any part of your book reviewed or censored by the authorities before being published? If your book was on non-political or social topics, I can understand how it was probably easy to publish. But what if a person wrote on a controversial political or social topic? Just look at all of the firewalls which the government has around the Internet. Voted up as interesting and sharing with followers.

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