Linked: Chinese Web Literature Authors Are Profitable, And Have Been For Sometime Now

Chinese ‘web literature’ authors have been profitable for some time now:

People who signed up as writers on the site could publish their stories in serial form. If their works happened to attract a large group of readers, editors would call the writers and ask if they would like to sell their copyrights to the website. After they signed a contract, their works would be displayed in the site’s VIP section, where readers could read a certain number of chapters for free and then be charged for the rest of the novel. Later, the website would split the profit equally with the writers.

Bizarrely enough, I found out about this a couple of months back when I observed a few of my Chinese friends reading web novels in their spare time. “Are they any good?” I asked. “No,” My friend answered. “We just read them for stress relief.” (thx, SgL)

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  • Becka Sutton

    Makes you wonder what might have happened is fictionpress or one of the other original fiction archive sites had tried such a model.

  • Eli James

    Yes, and I wonder if it’s a cultural thing, or just plain luck that the creators of such websites hit upon this idea. After all, the Japanese seem to have something similar in place. Could it be a regional thing (or perhaps an indication of something else, such as mobile phone usage?)

  • SgL

    I do think it’s cultural. Look at how people in the article actually think they should pay the writers… I think east Asian cultures are also used to micropayments as a way of life. China, Korea, Japan all pay lots of micropayments for games and other online virtual content. Asking people to extend that mentality to written content is likely not as big of a stretch.

  • Dary

    This is also an area of the world where comics and TV shows can run of for hundreds of episodes/chapters covering a single on-going story. The most popular manga in Japan only reached its halfway point after 13 years and 60 collected volumes of 200-pages each…

  • Eli James

    @SgL, @Dary: yes, those are good datapoints indeed.

  • katong from Spain seems to be introducing a model like this one to the Roman-text world… read for free, then pay for extras – access to VIP writers, freedom from ads, etc. So we’ll see if the model translates. Pers. I think this model has spread in Japan and China first due to 1) very well established system of micropayments in Japan’s mobile internet; 2) mobile-first internet in both countries, and 3) for China, lower price points.

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