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How to Get Published in Hong Kong

This is an article I wrote for Reading Matters, the in-shop newsletter published by Bookazine, last month.


tvbcHERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: Hong Kong has a thriving industry of independent publishers. Here is even better news: this is not London or New York, and most (if not all) presses are happy to receive manuscripts directly from authors. So, assuming you’ve written a great book, you don’t necessarily need an agent to get published.

These ideas should help you get started.

First, find a suitable publisher to submit your manuscript to. Here’s an obvious but often overlooked tip: choose a publisher which already publishes works similar to yours. They will be more adept at promoting your book, and the editors there are more likely to take a personal interest in it.

You can do your research online; many publishers’ submissions guidelines can be found on their websites, or in annual directories. Or simply walk into your local bookshop and browse the shelves for titles similar to yours, and note who publishes them.

It is a fact that many publishers are overwhelmed with submissions from prospective authors, and if your proposal is vague, poorly presented or inappropriate, it will be consigned to the ‘slush pile’ to be read at a later date – or never. Only a tiny proportion of the books written each year get published. To make sure yours is one of the few, you’ll want to craft a proposal which grabs the attention of the reader, states your concept clearly, and provides all the pertinent information in one place.

Write a bright covering letter, indicating who you are, what kind of book you have written, and why this publisher should be interested in it. If you can, compare it to other books on the market which have done well. Your aim is to convince the editor of two things: that this book is a winner which will sell, and that you are an exciting author who is able and willing to assist in making it a success.

Include a one-page summary of the book, and two or three sample chapters or illustrations. If you ‘tick all the boxes’ in this way, your proposal is likely to go straight to the head of the queue. Good luck!

Publishing contracts vary, but in most cases will set out that the publisher is granted a licence to publish the work, at its own expense, and will pay you royalties on sales. Some publishers may pay an advance, but this is not universal among small presses with limited resources. Most will require the author to co-operate in promoting the book as widely as possible. (If you are a shrinking violet, this may be the perfect opportunity to conquer your fear of public speaking).

Finally, the usual word of warning: If your publisher asks you to pay for production expenses, or asks you to buy quantities of your own book, then you may be dealing with a vanity press. If they have not invested their own money in the book, then they are unlikely to put much effort into marketing it. For more advice see the FAQ at the Society of Authors. If you absolutely cannot find a commercial publisher to take on your work, then you are better off self-publishing it. There are numerous ways to do this these days and at least you retain control over the process.

Pete Spurrier runs Blacksmith Books, a Hong Kong publishing house.

2016-11-24T01:14:50+00:00June 5th, 2008|hong kong, publishing|17 Comments


  1. […] Trying to get a Book Published « 58 Inches3 Baby Steps to Get Your Book Published (for those who don’t know where to start) | Author Tech TipsStudy Hacks » Blog Archive » How to Get a Book Deal: Lessons From My Adventures in the World of Non-Fiction Publishing How to Get Published in Hong Kong @ The Blacksmith blog […]

  2. Adrian Edler May 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    This is good information. Thanks for the tips. I might be in touch with Blacksmith in the near future for a photographer friend of mine who might be needing some publishing done. I am acting on his behalf in Germany, and am his main promoter these days.

  3. Sam Pizzo November 17, 2011 at 6:25 am - Reply

    The information that was provided is very helpfull, I will contacting you folks in a day or so about my book.
    Respectfully Sam Pizzo

  4. Frankie Fook-lun Leung July 17, 2012 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Nowadays, publishing a book of pictures in color is still rather expensive. I find that very few publishers are interested in publishing coffee table books. On the other hand, books on doing business in Asia are still popular and have a market in USA.

  5. Pete July 18, 2012 at 12:28 am - Reply

    You are right, Frankie. We were very lucky that “China: Portrait of a People”, a photo book by Tom Carter (https://www.blacksmithbooks.com/9789889979942.htm), struck a chord in the US, UK and Canada. If it hadn’t done well, we wouldn’t have done any others, as ful-colour printing is a big investment.

  6. Frankie Fook-lun Leung August 18, 2012 at 3:07 am - Reply

    Nowadays, coffee table books are too expensive to produce. Even docotrs’ waiting rooms don’t stock them. Even in public libraries, these books are a headache to stock. I can’t imagine H K has a big market for them for space reason alone. Young people read everything on line any way.

  7. Frankie Fook-lun Leung August 21, 2012 at 4:29 am - Reply

    you really feel sad when you go to book sales to see those colorful and expensive coffee-table books sold for $1 each copy. Almost an insult to those photographers who are so experienced and talented.

  8. Frankie Fook-lun Leung September 15, 2012 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Space is a premium these days, even in spacious USA, not to mention Hong Kong. I just attended a meeting with university librarians. They would rather not accept any donated books, unless a precious copy.

  9. Frankie Fook-lun Leung March 4, 2013 at 10:16 am - Reply

    I wrote a foreword in a book published in English by a friend. It was published by a regional publisher (not in H K, but in Singapore). I am helping him to market his book in North America. I was shocked to have known that so little was done by his publisher in Asia in promoting his book outside the region. Hardly any advance copies were sent to reviewders in known publications to write reviews.

  10. Pete March 7, 2013 at 1:46 am - Reply

    Hi Frankie, did the publisher have distribution in North America? If not, and the book couldn’t be bought there, then there may have been no logic in sending out lots of advance copies.

  11. Frankie Fook-lun April 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    I am not talking about a mass market for best sellers. The book is sold by Amazon. As you well know, for a book to attract readers, you need book reviews, flyers, promotions on the internet, not to mention book tours. I am sending complimentary copies to magazines, and Asian studies libraries etc. Not much one can do if the publisher does not take an active part.

  12. Pete May 22, 2013 at 2:27 am - Reply

    I quite agree, all this needs to be done. If the publisher doesn’t do this, there are two possibilities: 1. it is incompetent and it will go out of business, or 2. it is a vanity press which has already made its money by charging the author.

  13. Pearl Chen February 2, 2015 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Where can I find the email address to send my query? Many thanks in advance for any hint.

  14. Malcolm hobbs January 17, 2016 at 2:10 am - Reply

    I would like to find a publisher for my children’s books
    in Hong Kong or china.
    I am an established author in England of thrillers but I also write
    children’s book as well. My publisher does not do children’s books.


  15. Elspeth Ingram October 18, 2017 at 11:09 am - Reply

    I am looking for a publisher/printer for my fully illustrated children’s book. It is formatted as an 8″x10″ hardcover with jacket and the full-color illustrations are professionally painted by a children’s book illustrator. I just need the publisher, the ISBN and an affordable price. I am American but live in Shanghai. I hope to visit International schools and sell oodles of books so that I can sleep on a mattress stuffed with gobs of money. Does anyone have any recommendations?

  16. Frankie Leung January 10, 2019 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Book publishing is a treacherous endeavor. If you are famous like Michelle Obama, her memoir sells 1.4 million copies in the first week. If you are an obscure author writing on an exotic subject, you are lucky if you can sell 50 copies.

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