From left: Jia Pingwa's Ruined City, Death's End by Liu Cixin, and Paper Hawk by Ge Liangare are among the titles published in 2016 in English or Chinese.[Photo provided to China Daily]
"Online literature fills a blank in the Chinese book market," says Shao Yanjun, a web literature expert with Peking University, and he expects internet literature to get more assimilated into the mainstream.
Separately, eight internet writers were elected to the national committee of the China Writers' Association at its annual meeting in December. Tangjia Sanshao was elected to the presidium of the association.
Explaining how internet literature is growing from strength to strength, Shao says it has now become a major source of adaptation for movies and games, and because of its large readership there is a spurt in the sales of TV and film rights of online works in China.
For instance, The Interpreters, a TV series based on a work by Miao Juan about the professional and love lives of two interpreters, attracted millions of viewers when it hit TV screens in May.
As for the money online writers are making, Liu Chang, who started writing sci-fi novels full-time in 2012 under the pen name Biting Dog, says that the TV and film adaptation rights for his work Global Evolution is worth around 2 million yuan ($300,000).
Focusing on the variety produced by online writers, Shao says: "Internet literature is also becoming more diversified in terms of quality and topics."
A good example of this is Zeng Dengke－known by the online pen name Crazy Banana－who writes historical fantasy and tries to match classical literature.
Another significant trend noticed by Shao and her students is Chinese internet literature attracting Western readers, who are also translating Chinese online novels into English on online forums such as Wuxiaworld.com, started by American-Chinese Lai Jingping, known as RWX on the forum, who quit the foreign service job to start the translation website.
Coming to the literary genres that made it big last year, sci-fi was near the top.