China: Writers chase their authorial dreams online

Eight years have passed since Zuo Lei arrived in Beijing after graduating from a college in Shandong province. Working as a director at a TV station in late 2012, the 31-year-old made a difficult decision. He quit his job and became a full-time writer on a professional online literature platform that specializes in voluminous novels updated daily.

“Writing stories has been my dream since I was very young. Although, as a TV director, I could also tell stories, there were too many restrictions,” he said. “I have a very strong desire to share my stories with other people, and online literature platforms offer me the chance to do so while guaranteeing a regular income.

Zuo, who writes around 6,000 words a day, can earn about 4,000 yuan ($650) a month, a little less than in his previous job. However, he pointed out that he is just starting out and as his story develops and he writes more, he will gain more readers and better income.

Some popular Chinese online writers can make more than 30 million yuan in a five-year period, not only from readers’ online payments, but also from the royalties paid by publishers of books and comics, video game developers and film and TV rights. Read more