Stationed in downtown Shanghai's Jing'an district, Guo Jingming's empire extends from the literary realm into cultural products.
“There will be more of a media buzz soon with our new products,” Guo says.
Among the first to introduce a literary agency mechanism, the Zui Book Company, which Guo started in 2008, has signed 80 writers, including Di An, Luo Luo, and some 20 comic creators. Guo’s teen-culture empire produces original stories and manga and other publications. The magazine Zui Novel sells 380,000 to 420,000 copies a month, Guo says.
He is extending the products into movies, games, cartoons and related commodities.
“A successful writer will not follow the trends,” Guo says. “I prefer writers who are distinctive.” “Nobody remembers a writer from one book. Writers are in a long-distance race to win readers.” One of Guo’s writers, Di An, says she has learnt a lot from him: “He offers a fresh image of being a writer, and a new mode of publishing.”
Another of Guo’s writers, Xiao Kaiyin, born in 1988 in Guangzhou, was the winner of Guo’s The Next writing contest, in 2009. After the contest, Xiao’s debut novel Before You Get Lost was published, which did well.
Her new book, The Invisible Writer, was released in late February. The novel explores the fates of two women in parallel worlds, who are connected by letters and diaries.
Xiao says new authors like herself grow up fast thanks to Guo. “He allows me full independence. And he helps in difficult situations, like the choice of the title.”
Xiao says Guo also offers detailed advice. “He told me to stay focused on the plot, and create a climax of conflicts.”
Guo says he’s involved in book planning, designing, and even assessing costs. “I also write PR materials myself for some of our books,” he adds.
Guo is not worried about the challenges the publishing industry faces with e-publishing. He says the e-right to his Tiny Times series sold for 1.25 million yuan ($198,000).
“E-reading era is just about the upgrading of reading devices, but not the content,” he says.
“We’re actually a content provider, and I strongly believe that writers won’t become extinct.”