How to Publish a Book in China

How to Publish a Book in China

4 Steps to Get Your Book Published in China

If you’re a foreign author who wants to expand your readership by releasing a book in China, you may be wondering how to publish a book in China. How to contract with your IP. After all, it is one of the most challenging markets for non-native writers. Even native speakers of Chinese often find it difficult to get their work published in China because of the country’s strict censorship laws and a general bias against works from foreign authors. The article will discuss the issues you need to know to approach overseas sales in China.

Getting Your Books Translated

If you’re still interested in getting your book published in China, you’ll want to start by assessing the state of your manuscript. Your text should be error-free and written with the Chinese reader in mind. To do this, you’ll want to consider a few things. First, remember that most Chinese readers prefer reading books written in Simplified Chinese. If you’ve written your book in Traditional Chinese, you’ll need to translate your work or hire a professional translator to do it for you.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider the topic and tone of your book. Most of the time, Chinese publishers prefer publishing non-fiction books over fiction novels. On the other hand, issues like travel and culture, history, business, and health and wellness tend to do well with Chinese publishers.

Localising Your Content

You’ll need to consider a few things to publish a book in China successfully. For example, you’ll want to create a Chinese-language title for your book. Remember that Chinese publishers prefer publishing books written in Chinese, so you won’t want to use your original title. Additionally, you’ll want to create a book synopsis in Chinese. Chinese publishers will use your outline to understand the general theme of your work. Finally, you’ll want to hire a professional editor to review your manuscript. Even if your book is written in Chinese, it’s essential to have a third party find any mistakes or typos.

Get a local ISBN code

One must keep in mind that China has information restriction policies in place when it comes to publishing. Your book will go through an additional thorough censorship process if it deals with history, ideologies, religion, or other touchy subjects. As a result, you need to purchase a local ISBN or CSBN in China in place of the international ISBN (China Standard Book Number). In addition, Chinese publishers won’t accept books published in other languages; only books published in Chinese or the Chinese language, as well as foreign languages that have been translated into Chinese and passed censorship, are acceptable.

Case Study

China is especially great for Children’s books because all parents like me are willing to spend high on Children’s education in China. 
1. Typically, we will choose bi-lingual books for kids. I suppose you will need a translation. I have been a full-time translator for six years, have an eleven-year-old son, and have a channel called Learn Chinese with Alice, with 4.1 followers. I am interested in cooperating with you to translate the books into Chinese.
2. We have a variety of publishers, they are well known for introducing foreign books or have a good reputation for selling books to children. I can shortlist the publisher for you. We will find a publisher with a sound distribution channel.
3. You will get prepared to pay a license fee to print your book, and we can work with you to contract with the publisher.
4. As a marketing agency, we have marketing channels to find your Chinese distribution partners or sell on Dangdang, JD and other media for you. Our unique strength in supporting your marketing to the Chinese is that we have many cooperation contacts in Social Media marketing and distribution.

Get a Licence for Your Book

Licence to publish is different from ISBN code. A book printing license in China is mandatory if you want to sell or publish books. You can apply for a book printing licence at the National Copyright Administration (NCA) (国家版权局) . However, there are specific requirements that you need to fulfil before applying for a book printing license in China. These requirements vary from one organisation to another. However, the general requirements include the following: 1. Company Name: The company name must be unique and can only be registered using Chinese characters. 2. Legal Representative: The legal representative must have a PRC national identity card.

What is the Difference between Hongkong and Mainland Publishers

Publishing a book in Hongkong is different from publishing a book in mainland China. China regards Hongkong publishers as Foreign publishers as well. You will need approval from Publishing Administrative at Provincial Level, get a reference number and pay a tax fee if you later sell to mainland Chinese.

If you are thinking of writing a book to be published in China, we can help. We can also help you publish your book with our Chinese publishing partners and distribution channels. Contact us at or fill in the form below.

How to Publish a Book in China FAQ

Most publishing houses in China usually only consider manuscripts that are “guaranteed to be profitable.” For instance, they focus on their own selected topics or works by well-known authors. In the former case, publishing houses plan the topics and invite professional writers to contribute, ensuring high professionalism and quality of the content, with significant social and economic value. Such books generally achieve good sales after publication. Similarly, renowned authors are sought after because their celebrity status adds to the appeal of the book, and their manuscripts are carefully crafted by professional planning teams. These books also enjoy strong demand after release.

Therefore, for most authors that Easy Marketing team encounters, self-financing the publication of their books is necessary, which includes obtaining a legitimate book number. This is because only by purchasing a book number are they allowed to distribute and sell their books in mainland China.

In general, for self-financed publishing, the copyright belongs to the author themselves or the copyright holder, not the publishing house. The copyright page pertains to the copyright of this specific edition by the publishing house, while the content copyright belongs to the author. Therefore, even after publishing, the copyright of the book still belongs to the author. The publishing house, with the author’s or copyright holder’s permission, uses the content of the work but does not possess the content copyright. They only hold the exclusive copyright for the publication of that particular version of the work.

Finding the right publisher for your work is essential to facilitate its publication and subsequent development. When selecting a publishing house, you can consider the following three approaches.

Firstly, opt for a publisher that specializes in book topics similar to those in your work. By doing so, you can increase the likelihood of your work being accepted, while also leveraging the publisher’s influence in your niche to enhance the visibility of your book.

Secondly, seek advice from professional editors. In the realm of publishing, editors possess greater expertise than authors and are well-versed in the rules and requirements. Thus, when selecting a publisher, it is wise to attentively consider the editor’s recommendations.

Lastly, choose a reputable publishing agent with established distribution channels. Many publishing companies collaborate with various publishers, and entrusting your work to such an organization ensures a smoother publishing process.

Xinhua Bookstore is a state-owned book distribution enterprise in China, with numerous stores nationwide. As of December 31, 2022, the total number of Xinhua Bookstore branches reached 13,531, including 8,091 self-owned branches, 5,433 cooperative branches, and 7 overseas branches. The total business area of Xinhua Bookstore’s domestic branches is 4.37 million square meters. Having books distributed through Xinhua Bookstore undoubtedly provides an excellent means of dissemination. But how can books by ordinary authors be placed on the shelves and distributed by Xinhua Bookstore?

Firstly, it is necessary to meet the book’s printing quantity requirements. Since there are numerous Xinhua Bookstore branches, it is essential to have a printing quantity above a certain threshold, typically 3,000 copies or more, to be eligible for consideration.

Secondly, the content and topic of the book should align with Xinhua Bookstore’s positioning. Different Xinhua Bookstore branches have varying focuses depending on their geographical locations. For example, bookstores in major cities tend to prioritize books in professional, motivational, business, and economic fields, while in smaller cities, they may choose books more closely related to local lifestyle and characteristics.

Thirdly, it is crucial to have a long-standing business relationship and cooperation with a publishing house that collaborates with Xinhua Bookstore. Xinhua Bookstore has established fixed partnerships with several book suppliers. If your publishing house happens to have such an established collaboration, it will increase the chances of your book being placed on the shelves.

Please note that the process of getting a book placed in Xinhua Bookstore involves meeting specific criteria and having the right publishing connections.

To verify the authenticity of a CIP book number, you can open the copyright page of the book and locate the CIP data. Then, visit the official website of the China National Center for Bibliography (NCB) and enter the approved CIP number for verification. Alternatively, you can use the ISBN number or book title to search for the book’s information. If the book’s details match the information on the physical book and are found on the official website, it confirms that the book is a legitimate publication in China, and the CIP number is authentic and valid.

Firstly, they can offer sales channels to address the distribution of the book.

Secondly, they possess extensive experience and successful cases in publishing, ensuring the quality of the book.

Thirdly, they have professional planning, editing, and design teams to effectively package the author and their work.

There is an author who published a book related to e-commerce, and each book is priced at 56 yuan. Readers who purchase his book can join his WeChat groups. Currently, he has 16 groups, with 14 of them having around 500 members each (as the maximum limit for WeChat groups is 500 members), and the other two groups have over 300 members. He publishes a book every year, and at least half of these fans repurchase his books annually. He has been enhancing fan engagement through WeChat groups and interactive communication.

Although theoretically, a book can be as short as a single word, hardly anyone would do that. Generally, for genres like novels, social sciences, and management, which consist mainly of text, the word count should not be less than 100,000 words, and a range between 150,000 to 200,000 words would be more appropriate. For books with illustrations, the word count should not be less than 50,000, and the inclusion of images should be sufficient to fill a book. For a collection of poems, it should have no less than 80 pieces, and for an image collection, it should have no less than 50 chapters. Remember, the more, the better.

From the start of information collection, to topic selection, planning, contract signing, manuscript compilation, review, editing, processing, organization, reevaluation, final review, proofreading, revisions, and then to book cover design, typesetting, sampling, plate making, printing, binding, sample book inspection, warehousing, and finally, distribution, shelving, and sales.

Selected Comments from Linkedin

Linkedin Comment on China Book Publishing

We have included comments from LinkedIn and responses from our webpage here. We believe this issue may be relevant to many authors targeting the Chinese market, and the Easy Marketing team hopes it proves helpful. The question revolves around a situation where Vincent was in contact with a book printer in China. The printer claimed they were not allowed to print books with an ISBN unless it was registered locally. Vincent finds this odd and wonders if it’s a common restriction. They are considering registering the ISBN abroad and manually adding it later but are unsure if the printer’s reluctance is due to a misunderstanding about where the book will be published. They mention that other books printed in China with foreign ISBNs seem to face no issues. Vincent seeks insights or information on whether this situation is familiar to others.

In response to the question about publishing books in China, Easy Marketing Ltd explains that regular publishing in China requires a locally purchased book number, without which the book cannot be sold publicly. International book numbers (ISBN) from places like Canada are not legally recognized for sale in the Chinese market. Easy Marketing team confirms this as a common restriction, emphasizing that Chinese and international book numbers are separate systems. We suggests obtaining a separate ISBN for the Chinese edition and explains the strict publishing regulations in China. Easy Marketing Ltd advises obtaining a separate ISBN for each target market (country).