Media and Advertising

The cost of marketing a young web author

A pricey web novel.

Lin Qianyu, author of Carefree: A Crusade Legend (逍遥·圣战传说), is one of this year's hottest young authors. His experiences - dropping out of high school to pursue his writing - recall those of 90s teen phenom Han Han, and his writing style has been said to top that of hot seller Guo Jingming. His fantasy novel, written in 50 days, was the grand prize winner in Sina's online writing competition, and the jury made up of luminaries like Jin Yong, Hai Yan, and Cao Wenxuan called him a prodigy.

His book was bought up by Zhaohua Publishing House which spent 1.07 million yuan marketing it. BQ breaks down the costs:

  • Image planning for Lin Qianyu: 50,000
  • Flash animations and online video: 20,000
  • Media marketing: 100,000
  • Acquiring movie rights from Sina and setting up a movie consultant base: 300,000
  • Inviting a well-known animator to create animated character designs, and arranging consulting for development of animation products, and a script for a cartoon: 200,000
  • Cost of first printing (100,000 copies): 400,000
Lin Qianyu after his image retooling.
BQ also interviewed publisher Shen Haobo on Carefree and on youth literature in general. Some excerpts:

Lin Qianyu's works have a lot of market potential. I have always wanted to run a solid business in every area - why doesn't China have its own Harry Potter? When I saw Lin Qianyu and his book, I decided to start my experiment. In truth, going about this test is still difficult. We were unable to find suitable partners - for example, we wanted to turn Carefree into a movie, but China has no suitable directors. The overall quality of China's cultural industries is not bright, so we could only talk partnership with those overseas. Working with different departments is a headache-inducing experience.
BQ: [When popular literature] starts to rise, will the market take aim at youth?
Shen: It won't be taking aim, but rather an objective shift in that direction. You should know that adults don't buy books. When 30-year-olds buy books, they think twice, and ultimately buy a book on enterprise management. The majority of adults have lost the joy of thinking and no longer are drawn to beautiful things. Youth and children still maintain a passion and a need for youth literature.

Lin himself summarizes his high school and writing experiences this way:

- 2002: Second year. Everyone is worried about deciding between science and humanities, but I am frustrated over "what is clearly a one-hour class stretched out to three days." So I drop out of school and leave. School is a grave where time is wasted and youth consumed - this is my real reason for dropping out - to find some quite. Although the principal and the teacher do not understand and try many things to detain me, I am set on going. Now I see that time as a hero in the wind, coming and going without cares.
- 2004: I start putting my rejected writings online. Turns out there are lots of people who say they are impressed by them. I try to show them my published writings, but people say they are trash. I am puzzled - where's the money in being impressed? Trash has royalties. Are worthless things actually priceless?
- 2005: I come to Beijing. I encounter some people and some events. But they're pretty much eroded by the dazzling neon lights. I write Carefree: A Crusade Legend.

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Comments on The cost of marketing a young web author

I mentioned this story to a publishing industry friend from the UK.

Her response?

"I wish we could launch new authors that cheaply!"

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