Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Agents abroad

In my last post Chris asked:

"Is it worthwhile for a Canadian would-be author to submit to an American agent? There looks to be all of thirty agents in Canada (I could be wrong) and no one's ms will fit everybody's criteria. It seems like the States would improve your odds, if nothing else, but I really don't know what I'm talking about here."

The answer is yes.

Done and done. Next?

Let me expand on this. As many of you know, I am a Canadian author with a British agent. Several of my other author friends are Canadians with American agents. In this world of the interweb it's pretty easy to have such long distance relationships.

But here's the catch. You have to have written something marketable in the agent's home territory. Anyone who has read my books will know that I have an obsession with the British Isles that verges on the silly. I am quite openly an Anglophile, heck I lived in England for three years. When Scholastic UK bought my book and I met with them for the first time they were shocked to discover I was Canadian because, as they said, my book "was quintessentially British".

Canada has a very unique voice. It might be one of the few English speaking countries out there that holds literary fiction on the same plateau as other such countries hold up general popular fiction. We are awesome at the literary stuff. We are not as awesome as supporting the other stuff. And even less so when writing is set anywhere other than Canada. This comes from the simple fact that our country is very small. We have a very real need to maintain our identity through our culture (which is understandable), a culture that many outsiders see as interchangeable with the USA. I have a friend who published with a Canadian publisher. Her book was actually set in NYC. Awesome, right? Well her next book was also to be set there and the publisher asked her if maybe she could make the location Canadian instead. That's sort of the norm up here.

Thus you will find many Canadian authors looking south of the border for representation. Especially authors of genre fiction. And there's nothing wrong with that. But make sure what you are writing would appeal to an American audience. If what you're trying to sell to the States is a literary novel about a small Northern Ontario community, then that's going to be a tough sell and you might be wise sticking with agents here, or even going directly to publishers. If however you are selling an urban fantasy about two werewolves who fall in love in Chicago, you're probably better off to go South.

As ever always do your research. Let me link you to two articles I've written previously for this blog to help you with that.

So You Want To Get Published - Getting An Agent

General Advice with more links

So yeah, hope that answers the question! I wouldn't count out Canadian agents by any stretch of the imagination, but yes, if you feel so inclined, there's nothing wrong with looking abroad.


Yoga Gal said...

I live in sunny Los Angeles, I teach yoga in West Hollywood, did you find it harder to find a literary agent or an acting agent? My acting friends aren't too happy with the results of the current strike.

Chris Edwards said...

Much obliged, Adrienne.


Dawn Wilson said...

Wonderful and helpful information! I have pondered the same thing myself, only as an American with an interest in a Canadian agency (or even an English agency). Though I find there are many Canadian agents who will only read submissions from Canadian authors. I suppose it's a matter of finding the right fit.

Patti said...

Great advice, as I'm Canadian and currently researching where to submit. I first looked at the Canadian market but like you said they don't support genre fiction as well as literary. So I think I'll be looking south