Ask Daphne! About Being Canadian

April 26th, 2010 • Kate

canada-shoesCanadian shoes (alas, no longer available) for Darrin, who writes:

I live in Canada, and I aspire to have YA novels published. I’m just not sure if, when looking at agents, I should primarily focus on Canadian agents. I mean, it would be nice to have my works distributed throughout North America, but does that matter when considering agents? Would I be FORCED to get a Canadian agent?

It kind of seems like the answer is obvious, but there’s a chance I could be wrong. Any help you could give regarding this would help ease my overactive mind! Thanks!

First of all, no, no one’s got a gun to your head FORCING you to get a Canadian literary agent. So with that pressing question answered, I think the answer to the rest of your query is “it depends.”

I imagine, much as US agents concentrate first on US publishers, that most Canadian agent concentrate first on Canadian publishers. There is absolutely crossover between the markets, but more often it is in terms of distribution. Multiple sales within NA (that is, to different US and Canadian publishers) is more rare.

So I guess you have to ask yourself, in an ideal world, if you want to be published by a Canadian publisher or a US one. There are benefits to both, but a success in one market is likely to transfer over to the other. If it were me, I’d seek out Canadian agents first, and if you don’t find success, then broaden your agent search for US agents.

Of course, the SCBWI is an international organization, and they might have another perspective you can check out. Good luck!

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7 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About Being Canadian”

  1. Kathleen Says:

    I'm actually really curious to see what sort of response you get in the comments. For my part, I'm Canadian and I didn't have any Canadian agents on my initial query list. I wanted to concentrate on US Publishers and the US market because it seemed a better fit for YA (specifically YA urban fantasy).

  2. tricia Says:

    Darrin, I'm also in Canada and I think that only seeking Canadian representation would be a mistake. I know a few Canadian writers who have agents in the US–prestigious agents. And I know for a fact that they didn't go to them after they ran through their list of Canadian choices first. And later on this year when my MS is finished and I go agent hunting myself… well, I've got to say that there isn't a Canadian agent on my list. Like Kathleen above, I'm targeting the US market.

    The only reason I could imagine targeting Canadian representation first would be if you were hoping to publish with a Canadian publisher, and if your MS was so Canadian that you can't possibly imagine a US publisher saying they wanted it.

    Good luck.

  3. Lisa Gibson Says:

    That's a really interesting question that I was glad to see Kate answer. I had never really considered that particular situation.

  4. Kate Says:

    Kathleen and Tricia — thanks for your comments. As a US agent myself, I clearly only have one perspective on the question. I hope Darrin appreciates your viewpoint.

  5. Kathleen Says:

    Kate it's a great post topic and one that I wish was discussed more online. I was sort of hoping some of the published Canadian writers would see it and weigh in (I follow three Canadian MG/YA writers I follow on twitter and all three have US agents).

    tricia, I did end up sending material to one Canadian agency after one of their agents approached me. It was a very well regarded agency with a great client list and one of their authors had nothing but amazing things to say about them.

  6. ButterflyKisses Says:

    Canada is part of North America. My agent is in the US, as I am, but she is not charging me foreign percentages for Canadian distribution. I'm sure not all agents out there have this policy, but I do know it's a clause in my contract.

    My point is, there are agents out there that view US/Canada as one and the same. That brings me to the old adage–Seek and you shall find. (Can't believe I just cliched).


  7. Stina Says:

    I'm a Canadian writer, and to be honest, I've maybe queried only one Canadian agent in the past. For YA, there doesn't seem to be many looking for new clients.