When internet service first started making a dent in China around ten years ago, amateur writers quickly seized upon the technology. Soon the publishers found their opportunity to profit, and nowadays an estimated 200-million people in China read online and on mobile devices everyday.
Most of the writers who found their mark online were amateurs, but their works have proved insanely popular.
Hong Mou, or "Red Eye", is the name behind several popular fantasy novels and thrillers. Surprisingly, he's still a police officer by profession. Though he signed a contract with a publishing website three years ago, he continues to work his day job.
Hong said, "They pay me 30 Yuan per thousand Chinese characters, so I can easily make some extra cash by writing. It relieves some financial pressure."
Hong Mou is just one of many such novelists, and their ranks continue to grow. Since most of the online and mobile readers are enterprise employees, students and blue-collar workers, the writers have certain tricks up their sleeves to draw them in.
Novelist Liu Xiahui said, "The readers need something comfortable to read, so comedies and romantic novels are the most popular genres. They want to relax on the subway home when they finish a long day of work."
Positive feedback from the market is nurturing a growing number of novelists' online communities and independent online publishers - a cycle that continues to feed into itself. Now, even more markets are opening up: video games and TV adaptations... which begs the question, is the pen mightier than the keyboard?