A Chinese online writer surpassed all Chinese print novelists in terms of revenue, according to a rich list published on Thursday.
Fiction writer Jiang Nan, known for his Harry Potter-esque fantasy fiction series Dragon Raja, tops this year’s print rankings, with total annual royalties of 25.5 million yuan (HK$32.2 million), according to a list of China’s richest writers published by Sichuan-based Western China Metropolis Daily.
2012 Nobel Literature Award laureate Mo Yan ranked second with total royalties of 24 million yuan followed by renowned children’s book author, Zheng Yuanjie, with 18 million yuan. Popular authors Guo Jingming and Han Han were seventh and eighth in the list.
But the biggest money-maker this year, according to Western China Metropolis Daily, came from the ranks of China’s online writers.
Beijing-based Tang Jia San Shao is believed to have pocketed a whopping 26.5 million yuan largely thanks to his fantasy fiction depicting a martial artist’s foray into a fantasy after life.
Tang, together with the four wealthiest print authors, amassed a total of 100 million yuan in the past year, according to the rankings. And all 14 leading writers in the rankings were under 35 years old.
The annual list, put together by a team led by former journalist Wu Huaiyao, was first published eight years ago in 2006 when it drew public attention to the book publishing industry.
According to Wu, the list only reflects annual royalties, excluding film rights income or any other income.
Fantasy novels overwhelmingly dominate the work of authors on the list and 16 out of the top 20 online writers are fantasy authors.
Michel Hocks, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, said fantasy novels are so successful online in China largely because there are fewer restrictions imposed on them by authorities and the publishing process is much easier compared to printed books.
Hocks added in an email to the South China Morning Post that fantasy fiction had a long history in China and was very popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century, when print culture was booming in places like Shanghai and Hong Kong.