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Guo Jingming: man of many parts

Updated: 2012-03-06 14:56
By Mei Jia (

Guo Jingming: man of many parts

Guo Jingming not only sells more books than any other Chinese writer, he is a prominent businessman and a youthful celebrity figure. Mei Jia reports in Beijing.

China’s best-selling writer Guo Jingming is slim and suavely dressed in a creamy Western-style morning coat and a cute, white bow tie.

We meet in the conference room of Changjiang Literature and Art Publishing House’s Beijing Center, where he’s deputy chief editor (rumored to be chief editor soon) and Guo is unfailingly polite but not shy about praising himself.

We have been talking for an hour when an assistant says our time is up. Guo, however, immediately takes control, showing who’s boss, and answers questions for another 20 minutes. The 29-year-old has four personal assistants, which gives another indication of how busy and organized he is.

He’s produced six novels and two collections of essays since his 2003 debut City of Fantasy. Tiny Times 3.0, his latest creation, sold 1.4 million copies in two months after being published in December.

“I’m running a business that saves dying bookstores, and is reviving the whole publishing industry,” says Guo, who’s happy to talk about his success.

On Wednesday, Forbes China announced that Guo was included in its list of the top 30 Chinese entrepreneurs under 30.

“In 2011, 25 out of the top 30 Chinese best-sellers for the year, in the fiction category, were by our writers,” Guo says of his company. “And the books we published in 2011 brought in 300 million yuan ($47.6 million).”

He’s a controversial author, partly because he’s so young when most lauded Chinese authors are old. He has also been accused of plagiarism, and has what has been described as an effeminate image.

A New York Times story in 2008 called him “image-obsessed” but Guo responds, “It’s not me who’s picky, but the photographers”.

Guo seems at home in his own skin, but says at one time he felt he needed to prove he was more than just a pretty face and deserved to be taken seriously.

“At a low point in my career, people said I was just a writer with big sales figures, money and a pretty face, and I was upset.

“Then it came to me that the sales figures proved that people wanted to read what I had to say and this gave me confidence and allowed me to move on.”

“I grew out of criticism and suspicion,” he adds.

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