Industry attracts writers in Southeast Asia
Every night after putting her son to bed, Precell Jay Silawan lets the inspiration flow. She sits at her computer to create stories that touch the hearts of her international fans online.
For Silawan, who lives in the Philippines, this has become her routine since January of last year when the 26 year old joined Webnovel as a writer. Better known by the handle “TheBlips”, she has four contemporary romance novels on the platform, with more than 38 million accumulated views.
Webnovel is an English-language content creation website launched in May 2017 by China Literature, a leading online literature and intellectual property incubator. In addition to some 500 translated Chinese web novels, the company’s site has more than 61,000 original works in English.
Led by such companies, Chinese online literature has won global popularity.
The overseas version of iReader, China’s leading mobile platform for digital reading, can be downloaded in 14 languages in 40 Countries and regions taking part in the Belt & Road Initiative, according to a report in 2018 by the China Writers Association, which added that the Chinese All Digital Publishing Group has nearly 5 million registered users overseas.
International online writers, especially those in Southeast Asia, are being drawn to the site given the widespread reach of these works.
Silawan said, “For me, Webnovel is the best platform, not just for Chinese online novels, but for newbies like myself.”
The full-time stay-at-home mom used to be a fan of The King’s Avatar, an online game-themed novel that attracted millions of fans worldwide, before she ventured into online writing.
“My target audience is young mothers, women who work at home, and female workers looking for a mental escape. I want to entertain them and make them happy and invigorated,” Silawan said.
She added that her books are mostly about women’s empowerment, with self-reliant female characters as protagonists. Every day, in addition to taking care of her son, she spends four hours writing.
Silawan is just one of more than 40,000 overseas writers with China Literature, with nearly 10,000 coming from Southeast Asia, according to data provided by the company in September.
Many of their works are deeply influenced by Chinese online literature. For example, they frequently contain Chinese cultural elements, such as brotherly friendship and respect for teachers. They also talk about struggle, passion and endeavour, all popular elements in works by Chinese web novelists.
Sandra Chen, general manager of Webnovel, said, “Southeast Asia has always been a popular destination for Chinese online literature, with titles such as Nirvana in Fire and Ever Night among the best-sellers in the region.” She added that readers in the region form an important part of the company’s global audience.