Monday, 3 June 2019

Reaching new readers in the Asian market

Image result for readers

Have you ever asked yourself, "How on earth will I reach readers with so many indie authors out there?"

It's true that the indie book market is so vast that trying to stand out seems almost impossible, with literally millions of titles being published each year. You might find yourself getting desperate, envying those folks who had jumped on the bandwagon earlier, when competition was less aggressive and Amazon's algorithms were easier to game.

Here's the good news, though: there might be a lot more authors to compete with these days, but there are also more readers - and not all of them on Amazon.

At the beginning of the indie author boom, it was obvious that the target audience is English speaking and Western, primarily in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and, to a lesser extent, Europe.

These days, however, many countries in Asia and the Far East are going through a rapid process of globalization, technological advancement, and economical development. They are avid consumers of online content, primarily on mobile, and many of them speak and read English fluently. This means the pie is growing apace - there's a whole new market of potential readers for us. Hurray!

There are now over 800 million Internet users in China and over 500 million in India. You can bet some of these people, like everywhere in the world, can appreciate a good story. Can you imagine how fantastic it would be to reach even a fraction of them and have your books before such a huge fresh audience?

A popular reading medium is book serialization through platforms on which users pay a small fee to unlock subsequent chapters or the whole novel. The system is made sustainable thanks to sheer numbers of users, and popular authors can find a very nice income stream there. If this reminds you of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, it's because there's definitely some similarity - but the beauty of it is that this is an audience largely unreached by Amazon.

I first became aware of this market through my collaboration with Nyoibo Studio, an imprint of Jianlai Global - an international digital publisher based in China and, more recently, the US. They have started out by bringing translated Chinese novels (usually extra long ones) to an English-speaking audience, which I thought was pretty exciting.

So when I heard of their new project of signing up novels originally written in English, I decided to enroll at once. I had a few books which I had sitting in Kindle Unlimited for a couple of years, without any significant benefit. I had decided to pull them out of KDP Select and go wide. And what could be wider than a whole new market?

Here's what made this a very easy decision for me:

1. There is zero risk. That's the most important thing for me - there is literally nothing to lose and everything to gain. The authors do not pay any fees to enroll and are not required to give up any book rights. You remain free to publish your work elsewhere, and your only limitation is the inability to partake in the KDP Select program (but, as I said, I had already decided to go wide anyway).

2. The absolute straightforwardness and transparency of the process. Authors who choose to enroll sign a clear, no-nonsense contract that covers their share of the royalties, payment thresholds, any legal liabilities, copyright issues, etc. The company takes book rights very seriously and will never distribute any content without the author's permission.

3. My inner knowledge of how the company works - I knew that it is honest, legitimate, and makes money off readers, not authors (so you won't have to dodge all sorts of offers of author services, promotion packages, etc).

4. The possibility of being translated into Chinese if your book is especially popular. For me, this is really the cherry on top. I'd love to reach such an enormous audience in its native language.

The English language novel project is launching now, and I am sharing this knowledge with you because I genuinely want to see my fellow indie authors succeed. Nothing will make me happier than getting a message from some of you a little down the road, saying "Hey, I signed up for that project you mentioned and have tapped into a new crowd of overseas fans."

To read more about the project and find out if your work is eligible for participation, visit Jianlai Global's website here, or contact me directly. I would be happy to chat and answer any questions you might have.


  1. Thanks, Hannah. This is very interesting!

  2. JianLai has sent me an author agreement and I am contemplating... May I ask how lucrative your arrangement has been thus far? How long have your books been available on their platforms and approximately how many hits (per day? per week?) have you been getting?

    1. Hi Tommy! At this moment, the project is just launching, so I have no answers to your questions yet. I will definitely post an update later on and tell how things have worked out for my books. The way I see it right now, however, it's like this: if my books are in wide distribution in any case, I have nothing to lose (and a whole lot to gain!) by branching out into new platforms.

  3. Hannah, I've been contacted by Jianlai to add my books and wondered how secure their platforms are. Pirates are everywhere and I'm not keen on seeing content I give to them suddenly on pirated sites. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Carmen! Book piracy is certainly an infuriating phenomenon. It sometimes seems that the harder authors work to protect their content, the more determined book pirates are to steal it. I know that Jianlai takes copyright issues and intellectual property rights very seriously and does all it can to protect its authors, but I honestly don't know if any 100% secure platform exists at all, not even Amazon.

      Some time ago, I had talked to an author who's rather old-school about the possibility of making her books available in ebook form. "But this will make it easier to steal my work!" she protested. To this day, she sticks with print only, which might protect her from book piracy, but which also automatically cuts off a huge chunk of market she has no access to.
      In general, the more successful you are, the more eager crooks will be to steal your work. However, I personally am fairly confident that the benefits of an expanded market and new readers more than outweigh the risks of my books being pirated.