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Author Topic: Publishing in the PRC  (Read 1710 times)

Calach Pfeffer

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Publishing in the PRC
« on: October 18, 2015, 01:33:02 AM »
I'm starting this thread because I don't know anything about publishing in the PRC, but I am wondering a lot about how success in writing arrives here. Being a teacher in and around language faculties seems like a natural for encountering budding writers, and I'm aware of 2 or 3 at the moment who might be on their way, and I've started wondering where the money at.

I'm going to say online is a natural place to start. Young Chinese, and old, seem to get so much of their social and entertainment needs met online, and so much of it seems word-based - blogs, messaging, "moments" - that surely the writers are there too. I'm aware that web publishing is already fairly big. I don't have any links, but there are web sites devoted to serial publishing. People sign up, pay a pittance, and get serialised stories delivered to them by the week or the day. (The authors burn out fast, of course, but the top 10 or 20 are superstars and can make bank.) I'm aware too that, for instance, there's a movie out at the moment - Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe - that started life as an online novel - Ghost Blows Out the Light - published in 2006.

If you were going to write a novel (or short story or screenplay or actual play) in Chinese, how would you publish? (And, by the bye, what's the market like for English-language story telling like too?)
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2015, 03:47:38 AM »
What if this happened: a website were set up offering contemporary Chinese fiction as found online but in English translation. Short stories and poems could be free, serial fiction and story/poetry collections would be paid.

There is, it seems to me, a boom in Chinese contemporary writing driven by an exploding desire to read and be entertained, and we don't hear much about it because it's mostly transacted online. There is also a growing foreign interest in contemporary Chinese narratives but we don't get to express that interest much because we only get publishing house translations of a tiny handful of established authors. So, what if someone made a website translating current authors (and offered to pay both the translators and the original authors when and if some customer bought something to read).

Practical difficulties: (1) big differences in credit systems between China and The Rest, and a lot of transactions will fail unless they're done with Wechat, Taobao, or Alibaba systems; (2) managing attribution and copyright if someone gets properly famous; but mostly (3)...

Is there a market for this kind of thing?



Dibs on company name: (Wei Lan) Yu Ta Ni - building better words.
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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2015, 01:21:50 AM »
I'd recommend making the site bilingual if at all possible.  Somehow, professional translations of stories would need to be made.  Reader comments could be handled by automatic translation.

Using a combination of ad revenue and donations buttons might work out better than charging.  You might want to consider a way to block the site from those using ad blockers.  Then, authors would get a share of ad revenues as well as a bigger share of the donations their pages trigger.
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2015, 02:11:26 AM »
The idea occurred to me literally just yesterday so I haven't thought it through much, but it springs from a bunch of observations:

- that there is an online boom in contemporary Chinese-language fiction writing, and it's market driven
- that there are in China lots of recently graduated English majors with nothing to do and some of them want to be writers.
- that there has been some international interest in modern Chinese narratives, but translations are rare.

Translations would be done by those English majors. They'd be doing it because they want to learn writing by studying successful examples, and they might get money too. (They'd need permission from the authors, I guess.) The site itself would be social. More like a forum or salon than some online store. Definitely bilingual. And there'd be some section where you click (and micro-pay) to read (or to download and read). Definitely once a story or author becomes popular, much money will be lost to pirating, so the deal is really that this site is the first to publish, or the first to bring attention. What people "earn" is whatever they learn by joining in (and maybe some small amount of bucks as well).


As an aside, I can't see myself going ad-supported. I use ad blockers religiously, so an ad company would have to come up with something pretty damn suitable to not be rejected out-of-hand on principle. Donation or "pay what you want" could work, at least for foreign buyers.
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2015, 02:49:26 AM »
Main problem I suppose is if it worked, there'd be a continuous stream of new sites appearing that ripped off the content. The only protection would be who the hell wants to read English in the PRC? These copycat sites would be marketing to foreign readers and, hopefully, via Chinglish or a barrage of unsuitable ads, be laughable to those same readers.
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2015, 04:08:26 AM »
Found this:

http://www.jjwxc.net/

Don't know what it is, exactly.
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2015, 04:17:35 AM »
^ Pretty sure the above - Jinjiang City of Literature - is a place for publishing new, semi-professional fiction. The website, aside from not being available to Google Translate, has the even more alarming feature of being relatively inaccessible to cut and paste. When I highlighted lines to copy and carry over to a translator app, the highlighted text came out interspersed with copyright information for every line!
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2015, 06:02:01 AM »
What if this happened: a website were set up offering contemporary Chinese fiction as found online but in English translation. Short stories and poems could be free, serial fiction and story/poetry collections would be paid.

It'd be like monetized English Corner, but in writing, and in a good way. An English Corner where the students got paid. Almost like English was worth something again.
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Just Like Mr Benn

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2015, 12:27:52 PM »
It's already available for free, although I still think that's over-priced.

https://www.reddit.com/r/noveltranslations

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2015, 01:15:45 PM »
It's already available for free, although I still think that's over-priced.

https://www.reddit.com/r/noveltranslations

Huh.

Well...

Speaking with Mr Marketing's hat on, pffft, that thing has the usability of some website from the 90s. The interface they have going there effectively restricts their site to enthusiasts, and no curious readers need (or can) apply. I'm a curious reader and finding something to read amid all those words didn't happen.

Nonetheless, will take a closer look. Thanks for the tip.
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2015, 05:10:12 AM »
Raises the question of what a market-ready website should include.

At a minimum: a very functional search tool, author/translator pages that are run like blogs, and a community. And a payment interface. And for the love of god, make the default style for anything other than the forum, the market interface and the search tool be book format. Lots of white space. Authors/translators can diddle their own pages as much as they like, but by default readability is key.

And if such a website has no mobile interface, they should be laughed off the internet.
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2015, 07:42:00 AM »
What if...


What if it weren't a website? What if it were inside Wechat?

Obvious objection: Wechat, for all its vast user base, is mostly a Chinese language phenomenon. Why bother with English stories? Well, (a) it's available in English. You can get it on the Play Store. There must be some non-Chinese using it. And quite possibly they already have some connection to the Chinese speaking world and might like translated fiction of that sort. Also, (b) Chinese fiction available in both the original language and English translation is a goddamned English lesson if you make the stories available in tiny bites. Language draws them in, the fiction keeps them reading, they pay for what they read. It works as marketing for the original author and possibly also for the translator. And maybe also jobs for teachers.

Bite-sized fiction. Isn't that where mass reading is heading? Some people buy entire books and read them, but jesus people, marketing an entire book and getting one purchase hit off it is hard work. Why not do a billion micro transactions instead? Catch all the readers, not just the ones with staying power.
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2015, 02:09:27 AM »
Holy crud bubbles!

WeChat Launches E-Book App To Make Reading Social


And for the sake of fuzzy ducks, iOS only?! Have any iPeople tried this Weixin Dushu?
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2015, 11:35:16 AM »
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Publishing in the PRC
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2015, 03:15:51 AM »
The chief downside to this project is that generating interest involves posting stuff about fiction. How could that be hard, right? Wrong. It's fiction, man. You just never know what part is subversive or is going to become subversive. You have to vet all the things.
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