Grandfather Sun Bingwen

New article about Sun Bingwen

On 9 December Sun Bin published the first of a series of articles (in Chinese) related to her grandfather Sun Bingwen.
Title in Chinese: 百年潮丨孙冰:爷爷孙炳文的壮怀一生

“The life of my grandfather Sun Bingwen” by Sun Bin.
See attached the PDF, for those who cannot open the link:

191209 SunBin_SunBingwen

About Sun Bin

Here a free translation of the introduction in the article

Sun Bin, formerly known as Sun Pan, is Sun Bingwen’s granddaughter. Born in Beijing in 1954. When she was a teenager, her father died and his family broke down. At the age of 13, she was detained for “anti-Jiangqing speech.” At the age of 14, she went to the “May 7 Cadre School.” At the age of 15, she went to the countryside. After leaving the country in 1981, she was married to a Belgian who works in China, Gilbert Van Kerckhove, and returned to China to settle down, engaged in public relations and consulting work for Fortune 500 foreign companies, and also established business consulting company. Her husband, Gilbert Van Kerckhove, has been a senior executive of foreign companies in China for a long time. He has won China’s highest award for foreigners, China National Friendship Award, Beijing Great Wall Friendship Award, Knight Medal from the King of Belgium, Shanghai Magnolia Award, Shanghai Red Cross Awards.

Note: the birth year mentioned is 1954 but it is officially 1955. One of those incomprehensible Chinese confusions. Don’t ask… And her official English name is SUN Bin, not Bing.

More to come

Sun Bin already co-authored a book about her grandfather Sun Bingwen:

The book about Sun Bingwen

She was however not too happy with the editing done and decided to rewrite a lot. This is just the first segment, more to come about her family.
And do know, I have no idea what she wrote.

Trafford Publishing

Going through old articles

I am in the difficult process of cleaning up mountains of old newspaper clippings and more. I discovered an advertisement for Trafford Publishing, see

Trafford Publishing

Out of curiosity I did some research.

Member of the Author Solutions mafia

I soon discovered Trafford Publishing was purchased by Author Solutions, the biggest scammer in the publishing business as I commented earlier.

The story (and flood of complaints):

See here one of the sites where victims of their scam posted their story.

The choice is getting smaller

For new authors the choice to find a reliable publishing company is getting smaller as the monster of Author Solutions is buying up more and more similar companies, expanding their tentacles to catch naive authors.
I was a victim too. Then I went for the better option, see here the story of self-publishing my second book.

Audio books


In a previous post I mentioned the share of audio books in China. The rise of audio books is a worldwide trend.

One big player is Audible, the audiobook publisher and retailer with more than 425,000 titles in its online store; Amazon is the parent company and has been pushing audio books on its platform.

audio booksAudible is a seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming on the Internet. Audible sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. (Wikipedia).

“Audible is the leading creator and provider of premium digital spoken audio content, offering customers a rich destination for insight and inspiration to enhance their daily lives.” (source:

Bypassing print

A growing group of well-known authors is bypassing print and releasing audiobook originals, hoping to take advantage of the exploding audiobook market.
Read the full story:

It’s the latest sign that audiobooks are no longer an appendage of print, but a creative medium in their own right. The rise of stand-alone audio has also made some traditional publishers nervous, as Audible strikes deals directly with writers, including best-selling authors.

Other players in audio: Hachette, Penguin Random House and Macmillan Audio.

After years of stagnation in the industry, audiobooks have become a rare bright spot for publishers.

For decades, the audiobook market was limited by physical constraints: Listeners had to lug around cassette tapes or CDs, and bookstores devoted fewer and fewer shelves to the format. Digital technology upended that. Cellphones now function as audiobook players.

China reading statistics

Books still count but web content is on the rise

See here details of a recent survey (2018) providing insights on China reading statistics.

  • Adults read just under eight books on average last year, including some 3.3 digital books.
  • Readers 17 years or younger logged almost nine books apart from textbooks, a slight increase from 2017.
  • Youths 14 to 17 years old read an average of 11.5 books outside of classwork.
  • The amount of reading is not as large as in countries with strong reading habits, like Germany, France, Russia and Japan.
  • The survey found that 80.8 percent of adults have a reading habit, covering all kinds of material, in print, digital or online, an annual increase of 0.5 percentage points compared with 2017.
  • A decade ago, it was 69.7%, and 20 years ago, it was 60.4%.
  • The growth in digital reading, while demand for printed books remains stable. Mobile phones have become Chinese people’s favorite medium for reading and obtaining information.
  • Online, they read news, watch short videos and participate in social media.
  • Adults spent an average of almost 85 minutes a day on their phones, four more minutes than in 2017.
  • There is a sharp rise in audio books, with almost a third of the population having the habit of listening to audio books. This would mean about 350 million people.


There is one library for about 400,000 Chinese nationals on average, in contrast with 2,500 people in the United States and hundreds of people in many European countries.

I see an increase of libraries in general. The government-sponsored ones are more “serious” while many of the private sector venues are often used to surf the internet, for fun or for work.

There seems to be little tradition in China to view libraries as a venue for a family visit, for parents to take their children along to explore books and other media.

As for the book shops, the choice may look large but there are very few foreign books. Getting a foreign title into a book shop is very difficult as the books are supposed to be imported through authorized channels only and subject to scrutiny (= censorship). Obviously many Chinese books are not available due to some …. euh special reasons.

My books are on sale in the Sanlitun Bookwork but that is a rare exception.

ABC of self-publishing

Overview and introduction

Here is my ABC of self-publishing.
It is my story on why and how I became an author, publishing two books: “Toxic Capitalism” and “Laugh And Get Wiser”.

ABC of self-publishing

late nights… trying hard…

The first book was done through a “Vanity Press Company”, a bad experience that led me to go “indie” and do self-publishing totally myself. That required mastering a software “SCRIVENER” and enrolling as an author with Amazon.
See the challenges I encountered and how I succeeded to publish on Kindle and in print. It took me three extended stays in a nice hotel in Phuket to find the right and motivating environment.

There are three very different roads to publishing: the traditional publishing companies, the vanity press and self-publishing (such as through Amazon, the giant in that field).
Read all details in these posts, as a guide to publish YOUR book. And learn the jargon of this business. Consider it your ABC of self-publishing.

Why self-publishing

Topics covered:
– Why I write;
– Why choose self-publishing;
– The 3 challenges when publishing your book;
– Some good books and websites to learn the details.

How to self-publish

Topics covered:
– Why to become an “indie” and how;
– The three choices explained: traditional publishing houses; the vanity press; do it yourself (read: go the indie road).

The giant of self-publishing

Topics covered:
– Why Amazon?
– The first step to publish on Amazon: you need to register as an author.
– The challenges I met to register as an author, being in China.
– Can you publish a book in Chinese on Amazon? Supported languages.
– Why not use Amazon China?
– Uploading my Kindle e-book on Amazon: challenges I met.
– My books are on Amazon!
– Does Amazon ship to China?

Using Scrivener

Topics covered:
– What is Scrivener software?
– How to learn it, the way I did.
– Why a print version is the first step.
– Amazon Kindle: you need a Table of Content.
– How to get your book in print?

How I wrote my books

Topics covered:
– Everybody and every book is different
– My first book “Toxic Capitalism”: using MS Word and deliver the file to a “vanity press”.
– Running away from my normal environment.

Using external help when going indie

Topics covered:
– Using external help when going indie is mandatory for two tasks: the cover design and professional editing.
– Why you need to finish first the format of the print version.
– How I did the cover page in two outsourcing steps.
– For my second book I did exceptionally not use an external editor: why?
– How much did my book cost to get it published in e-book and print?

More considerations on writing and Amazon

Topics covered:
– Are you focused in your genre? Building a following.
– Amazon and shipping.
– Amazon world-wide shops are not connected.
– BISAC codes: what they are and why it did not help me with Amazon.
– Publishing in Chinese.