Getting media publicity for a Chinese-language book


#1

In September, a Taipei publisher will be releasing a small book (in Chinese only) called something like “I’m Just Crazy About Taiwan!” [WO JYO TSE YANG HA SAN LE TAIWAN] written by an American who has lived here for five years. The book is intended for a Taiwanese audience, not for expats, and no English edition is planned. It is a book by a foreigner for Taiwanese. However, since the author does not speak/write/read/hear/dream Chinese very well (the book was translated by a Taipei professional translator from an original English text), I am looking for find ways to help get some publicity and word of mouth in the Chinese-language media and potential readers islandwide, er, nationwide. My publisher will of course being done a very good job of inhouse PR and they have many major media contacts, but since my book is not a very high priority and is not expected to sell so well (compared to current bestsellers, which go from 10,000 copies to 250,000 copies in print and up), I am wondering if readers here know of any good way to attract the media attention of Chinese-language newspapers, magazines, radio and TV outlets. Any good contacts or tips appreciated. A email jpeg of the cover is available if you email me. Please email tips, advice, contact numbers to danbloom@reporters.net [Arrigato gozaimashita!]


#2

Short of lunging over Ah-Bian’s security detail and attempting to press a copy of the book into the president’s hands, I’d say the best way of getting the local media’s attention is to prepare a press packet, including a press release (in Chinese, detailing your history, what’s in the book, publishing dates, contact information for a Chinese speaker who can tell them more about the book), a photo of the book cover and a professional-looking photo of yourself. Good photos are key and will dramatically increase your chances of getting some publicity.

Send the packet to each of the major newspapers/magazines/cable TV/san tai about six week’s prior to release. Have a friend get the names of the reporters or editors likely to run something about this (most likely the entertainment or culture depts) and address the packets to them.

The reporters will do one of several things when they receive the packet:

  1. Throw it into the bin without even opening the envelope

  2. Open the envelope and then throw it in the bin because they don’t care/too busy/it’s not their beat

  3. Pass it onto the right colleague who might be interested in this type of story

  4. Write up a little blurb, and maybe use one of the photos you sent

  5. Actually call you back and do a proper interview, and run a more in-depth story

I’d give some advance warning to the PR person at your publisher … they might actually have some kind of campaign planned, and your solo efforts could interfere …

The entertainment-oriented pubs (ie, minsheng bao) are always good for starting the ball rolling … sometimes if they print something, other outlets will pick it up. For this reason, it might be a good idea to send multiple press packets to different reporters and editors there … one of them is bound to perk up …

Good luck with the book!


#3

Hello Klaxon amd thanks for a very informative post. You apparently know the PR game very well here, and I am going to followup on everything you mentioned. Thanks again. Especially the tip on Min Sheng Bao often leading the way for the other papers, so a good place to begin. What about STAR NEWS? Do they ever print stuff about lesser people are NOT celebrities or is it all STAR news period? And what about CNA, the semi-govt wire service? Are they good at picking up press releases in Chinese or is it also a crap shoot? KLAXON: you know the biz very well, and I’d like to get in touch with you offline by email, and maybe even by phone. If you are open to this and have time, and don’t mind having your brains picked in exchange for a preview copy of the book (unlimited time offer), please email offline at leinadmoolb@hotmail.com or leave your email address here. Thanks again! You are a genius of the PR world. I am strictly amateur. [Dan]


#4

No prob Dan, glad to help. I am not a pro either … I just happen to have some experience dealing with Taiwan’s media from several angles and have a good idea of how the publicity system works.

I’ll also leave my comments here, rather than by private e-mail … who knows, someone else may be looking for the same kind of advice, or may have something to add.

I have to admit it has been a few years since I last dealt directly with the media there, although I keep in touch with a few journalist friends.

In answer to a few of the new questions you have:

  1. Yes, any entertainment publication is OK to target, not only for the readership it attracts but also for the chance of someone else picking up the story. Incidentally, that’s not to say China Times or Liberty Times won’t follow up on your press release without prompting from another newspaper – the criteria for most journalists is

a. is it interesting and in my beat?
b. will my editor approve?
c. is there room for a blurb/story/photo?

so by all means send the press release to all kinds of pubs, not just the entertainment pubs!

  1. Don’t overlook magazines … there are a lot of niche magazines and general interest pubs in Taiwan that are also looking for stories, and they are far more apt to incorporate a photo. Ask friends for help finding potential magazines

  2. Don’t discount the papers whose entertainment sections are covered with splashly photos of meinu and movie stars. Nine times out of ten they prefer “star” stories but they also run book blurbs too … and any publicity you can get is good publicity (except perhaps in the case of CNA, below)

  3. There was a media fad in Taiwan that might have faded since it peaked a few years back … What foreigners think of Taiwan. They had TV shows, documentaries, magazine articles, etc. Don’t know if the media has tired of this, but it’s good to be aware of it, and if it has faded, write your press release to explain how your book will be different or special …

  4. Don’t bother with CNA. It’s generally low quality propaganda masquerading as journalism, written and edited by people who don’t really give a f***. They occaisionally do features, but they are very stiff and unprofessional … and I doubt many people even read them (in English or Chinese!).

  5. Keep in mind that you will be competing with lots of other items crossing local journalists’ desks, including invitations to professional press confences and meals, so your press release and photos really have to stand out.

OK, gotta run, work becons!


#5

Once again, Klaxon, you are a real pro when it comes to knowing the media in Taiwan, and 10,000 thank you’s to you and your brain cells. I will take everything you have said into consideration and give it a go.

The biggest problem I will have (in about 10 days time, the book will be released on September 1) is the competition from other, bigger, more important Taiwan books, so as you said, I must find some way to grab the attention of editors and reporters to see if I can convince them to do a story. We’ll see.

What you said about CNA was an eye-opener. I had always thought they were a kind of AP/UPI of Taiwan, although a semi-govt agency. But if as you say, nobody really reads their wire stories, not much use in going there. I was thinking originally of kick starting my PR campaign with a CNA story and photo, in hopes that other editors around the country would see it and then call. Maybe not. Thanks for the warning.

Meanwhile, another problem, maybe a plus. I am based in southern Taiwan, in a delightful little place called Chiayi Cite, and the big national media guns are up north in Taipei. What to do?

There is a small group of reporters based in Chiayi from the national dailies, they congregate each day at city hall in a kind of informal press club, and I’ve gotten to know some of them over the past year here. Nice people, and always looking for stories. The problem is that if they do a story on my book, it might appear only in the Chiayi/Yunlin section of the nation edition, rather, only in the Chiayi/Yunlin area of circulation, and nobody north or south of Chiayi would see the story. So my challenge is to convince their editors in Taipei that this story – a foreigner’s view of Taiwan; positive, upbeat, hopeful, humorous – is worth a national page story.

One of my reporter friends here suggested she could help me set up a press conference at the local cultural center auditorium next month and invite all the local reporters and TV crews to come and meet the author. She and her husband would act as translators. Such nice folk down here in southern Taiwan. Love the place!

However, I am not a star or name author, and I doubt many reporters would come to a press conference featuring me. Plus, having never done a public press conference, and not being a performer and public speaker kind of person (rather on the shy side in public), I feel a press conference for my little book would be too much for me to handle. I prefer one on one interviews with reporters, so that I can make eye contact and speak in a more informal, friendly manner. I think I will cancel the press con and just try to contact the reporters here individually.

But your advice to try to get the entertainment papers into the act is good. If i can get Min Sheng Bao, Star daily and the GREAT Entertianment Paper to run small blurbs about the book, with some cover art, that would reach a key teen/college market.

The funny thing about all this is that my book is not a big book, and hardly an important one. It is just another one of those LAO WAI KAN TAIWAN books, fun to do and fun to promote, but it will realistically sell around 1500 copies and then disappear from view after a month. You can therefore imagine how much money I will be getting, LOL. I think even my publisher is losing money on this thing.

Meanwhile, the show must go on, and thanks again Klaxon, pro PR maven, for your insight into the PR jungle here. BTW, which country are you writing in from? Hong Kong? Singapore? Canada? London calling?


#6

Dan, out of curiosity and knowing little about the publishing industry, is it absolutely necessary that you have a media blitz so soon, just to meet the release date of September 1? It seems to me that you would be better off taking the time to get your marketing campaign in order rather than implement poorly just because of a release date. Poor marketing implementation won’t do you, your book, or your publisher any good. Also, given that you have already put so much work into it, not to mention others who have taken time out to help you, why not take on a more concerted attitude and not just write it off to “a fun thing”? Knowing that the people who can help you most are in Taipei, why not come to Taipei for at least one week and give it a go?


#7

Google: good advice and thanks for the reminder. Didnt meant to make it sound like it was all just “fun and games,” maybe was thinking out loud too much. But yes, your advice for a serious, concerted effort is a good one, and you’re right, too, go slow and no need to rush out of the gate. Am planning on going to Taipei for a week mid-September to touch bases with the PR team masterminding this operation and talk to a few reporters (if they’ll have me). Thanks, Google, for the timely reminder. Cheers, Dan


#8

I was told by a friend in Taipei that these are the prime papers to target for any book publicity campaign, slowly, piano piano, step by step, quietly, maybe a few weeks or even a month after the book comes out. They are: 中央時報 ( chung yang su bao) 、…The China Times
聯合 (lien her bao)、 …United Daily News

自由時報 (zi yo su bao)、…Liberty times
大成 (da cheng bao)、…Great Entertainment News
星報 (shin bao)、…Star News
民生 …Ming Sheng Bao
中央日報 (chung yang ri bao)、…Central Daily News
臺灣日報 (taiwan ri bao)、…Taiwan Daily News
and the
中央通訊社 (chung yang ton suun se)
…Central News Agency
(CNA)

Is this list complete, or are there other papers I need to know about in Taiwan?


#9

Hi dan,

Being in Chiayi actually not such a bad thing … in terms of holding a press conference, it might actually be advantageous – unlike Taipei, which is crawling with government officials, crime, stars, and all kinds of art events, a lot of these bureau reporters in smaller cities like chiayi really don’t have a lot to do, except during typhoons and elections, and are really on the lookout for anything remotely interesting or different.

If you have your friend help you organize the press conference, and then use your guanxi with the local press club and ask them in person to come, I think you will get some takers IF on that day it’s what we call a “slow news day” (unfortunately, slow news days are difficult to predict – you never know when something big will happen).

To avoid conflicts, make sure that your press conference isn’t scheduled during other known press events – such as the daily press briefing a city hall, an election, the day of the joint entrance examinations, etc. I would suggest holding it in the late morning, before lunch, or immediately after lunch, like around 2pm. Do it too late in the day and all the reporters will be busy preparing the day’s stories – TV people have deadlines of around 5 or 6 pm for the evening broadcast, newspaper reporters usually have until 9 or 10 pm for the next day’s paper. Magazine people are more flexible.

Afor the Jiayi news items only being shown in Jiayi, that may well be true. For this reason, you should also prepare the press packet and mail it to reporters/editors/media outlets in Taipei.

One thing that just occured to me … your press packet should include a list of where the book is sold, including street addresses of the stores (publisher will be able to supply a list). Also, as the book will already be printed by the time your campaign gets underway, include a copy in each of the press packets that you send out. I’d set aside at least 20 or 30 books for press mailings, plus a few extra copies for your pals down at Chiayi city hall.

All of the publications you listed should be sent press packets, again, to the attention of particular reporters or editors that cover the book or entertainment beats. The exceptions are CNA and the Zhong Yang Ri Bao (Central Daily News) which is associated with CNA and mostly relies on CNA for its content. It’s one of those useless newspapers you mostly see in government offices and sometimes in the hands of geriatric KMT officials – not many teen readers there!

It’s good to be realistic about the chances of success of this book, but don’t put yourself down or give up because you’re not a “pro”. I was involved with a CD release that we did on our own, it was literally a matter of using all of our collective press connections for publicity, and going door to door on the back of my scooter distributing copies of the CD to stores and pressing the flesh. It was tough, but we actually managed to get rid of the first pressing of 1000 copies, and eventually some other label signed us up for an additional pressing of 3000 copies! It was hard, but that’s how you get the word out.

Again, good luck,

Klaxon (from the USA)


#10

One other thing Dan …

Have you considered having a book release party? In the music project I mentioned earlier, we had a “CD release party” (organized by the bassist, guitarist and some very helpful friends), it was very well attended and we also sold lots of CDs at a lower-than-usual price. All our friends came, we met lots of new people, and we performed as well.

While it’s not so easy to “perform” a book, you can at least get your friends and colleagues together, maybe at a bar or your home, invite some of the local press people, your publisher, get some snacks out, some wine, give a little toast and maybe hand out a few copies. Just an idea.


#11

Once again, Klaxon, you the man, and 10,000 thank you’s from here to there. Your CD saga sounds interesting and it’s a good model to try to follow. I am still considering the CHiayi press conference at city hall, a small town affair with wide potential if the Taipei editors bite, but am still not sure how to handle it. Ideally, you are right: start local, do a press conference or launch party with local reporters and let things build from there. Makes sense. And you’re right, in a way, being way out of the way in far away Chiayi Cite might just be the thing that could help generate publicity in an unusual way. True: most reporters here don’t have all that much to except when there’s a typhoon and flood or local murder or lap dance emporium bust, like the one last week.

I wish I could hire you as my Chiayi PR rep, you seem to really know the ropes. Glad to know success story of how your CD got second printing after door to door sales, etc. I am also thinking of setting up an informal vendor stand for my book at the local Monday-to-Friday night markets in Chiayi, just to see the reactions of passersby and get some live feedback.

BTW, talking about music: I wonder if you know the dude who is the drummer for WU BAI and CHina Blue? His name is Vince Garelli or something like that. Ever run into him. He’s been here 10-15 years, been with Wu Bai from the start. I am trying to find out more about him but nothing on the Net yet in English or Chinese. Just his name mentioned. Know him? Or Corbett Wall, the sax guy, did you ever run into him? He seems to have disappeared into Japan or LA. He played a lot of TV gigs here, and wrote a column in the Taiwan News for a long time. Gone now.


#12

test


#13

Back in September, Klaxon wrote: “In answer to a few of the new questions you have:” As of January 1, 2002, here are the results, more or less:

CAT

  1. Yes, any entertainment publication is OK to target, not only for the readership it attracts but also for the chance of someone else picking up the story. Incidentally, that’s not to say China Times or Liberty Times won’t follow up on your press release without prompting from another newspaper – the criteria for most journalists is

a. is it interesting and in my beat?
b. will my editor approve?
c. is there room for a blurb/story/photo?

so by all means send the press release to all kinds of pubs, not just the entertainment pubs!

The following papers did eventually publish stories about the book: CHina Times, United Daily News, Liberty Times, CEntral Daily News, Merit Times, Taiwan Daily News, CEntral News AGency, NEXT magazine, China Times Weekly, New Taiwan magazine, Min Sheng Bao and the GREAT ENTERTAINMENT PAPER. In addition the CHina Post and the Taiwan News reported on the book, too. Only the Taipei Times did not report on the book since their editorial policy is not to comment on books that are published in Chinese.

  1. Don’t overlook magazines … there are a lot of niche magazines and general interest pubs in Taiwan that are also looking for stories, and they are far more apt to incorporate a photo. Ask friends for help finding potential magazines

Magazines that did publish stories: NEXT, China Times Weekly, Taiwan News Bilingual Weekly and NEW TAIWAN.

  1. Don’t discount the papers whose entertainment sections are covered with splashly photos of meinu and movie stars. Nine times out of ten they prefer “star” stories but they also run book blurbs too … and any publicity you can get is good publicity (except perhaps in the case of CNA, below)

STAR newspaper said no, but the GREAT ENTERTAINMENT PAPER did run a good story, with photo of author holding book

  1. There was a media fad in Taiwan that might have faded since it peaked a few years back … What foreigners think of Taiwan. They had TV shows, documentaries, magazine articles, etc. Don’t know if the media has tired of this, but it’s good to be aware of it, and if it has faded, write your press release to explain how your book will be different or special …

POWER TV produced a one hour video segment about the book in September. Unfortunately, the very next day after the video was shot, Taifoon Nari hit Taipei and flooded the station, killing three people and ruining most videotapes, including the one they had shot for this book. Sigh. RADIO stations UFO, NEWS 98 and CBS radio did interviews, although ICRT refused.

  1. Don’t bother with CNA. It’s generally low quality propaganda masquerading as journalism, written and edited by people who don’t really give a f***. They occaisionally do features, but they are very stiff and unprofessional … and I doubt many people even read them (in English or Chinese!).

CNA did a long feature story on September one in CHinese and English, with photo in package, but very few papers used it. None in fact! So yes, scratch CNA’s reach. Nada.

  1. Keep in mind that you will be competing with lots of other items crossing local journalists’ desks, including invitations to professional press confences and meals, so your press release and photos really have to stand out.

Turned out we were competing with 911 terror attacks and aftermath, Taifoon Nari and aftermath, the 2001 elections, CHen Shuibian’s new book, and the CHU Mei-feng sex video. So it was a busy media fall, and we were lucky to get any coverage at all.


#14

Book was pubbed on September 1, in an edition of 3,ooo copies. AFter author went to night market selling book face to face to passersby, he sold 1000 books this way and publisher agreed to go to a second printing on December 15. A total of 3,500 books now in print islandwide. Author says his goal now is to sell 10,000 books by August 31, 2002. Stay tuned.


#15

What sort of revenues do you get here for authoring a book? Is selling 3,500 books worth the effort of getting a product on the market?


#16

What kind of revenues? Publishers pay 10% of the retail price of a book, so I was paid 10% of NT$190 for 3,500 books, not a heck of alot of money and i also paid the translator half of that payment. One can only make serious money at this if the book becomes a monster bestesller and sells around 250,000 copies; otherwise it is just a hobby. Are you thinking of writing,publishing a book? Two choices: DIY, do it yourself, or find a publisher willing to pay you crumbs. But it’s fun and I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and am still selling the book in the night markets islandwide.


#17

If the book is in Chinese, wouldn’t it be smarter to market it across the Strait where the billion live? What’s the catch with that?


#18

Book is now in its third printing, from the publisher. Slow, very slow, but steady sales progress. Goal is 10,000 by end of year.

If anyone on this board would like a free copy, on the house, from the author, email the author at: PO BOX 1000, Chiayi City 600

Please include NT$40 in postage stamps in letter, and book will be sent to you asap. Free. But it’s in Chinese only, if that’s okay.