Just the facts, please
U.S. writer, Canadian publisher
I'm wondering what the pros and cons may be of a writer in the States publishing with a Canadian publisher. There have been a few small presses I've come across from Up North that have looked like they might fit a future project of mine. Do Canadian presses usually have distribution here? Are there legal issues that make such a prospect a Bad Idea off the bat? This is all very theoretical, but I got to wondering ...
Thanks for any insight!
practical experience, FTW
Many small Canadian presses depend on gov funding, which sometimes mean they may only publish Canadian writers. For distribution, I don't know. You may have to ask them, or check in whatever local bookstores you have left in your area and see if any of their books turned up there.
There's very little impeding the flow of books across the Canada-US border.
Originally Posted by JournoWriter
Once upon a time, publishing in Canada was the preserve of a self-perpetuating literary elite. It was more common for Canadians who were 'outsiders' to publish their work in the US, rather than the other way 'round. The Government of Canada has made efforts to democratize the publishing industry, but I don't know if it's been successful.
I haven't lived in Canada for many years, so I don't know if this situation has changed.
As far as payment of royalties is concerned, there will be a couple of extra entries on your US taxes for 'income derived from foreign sources'. Your Canadian publisher will give you a form equivalent to the US 1099-MISC with a statement of earnings on it.
If you're lucky enough to sell enough books, you may have to file a tax return in Canada, but there's a US-Cdn treaty that determines how much tax you pay in each country. Your total tax bill will be about the same whether you pay all your taxes in the US or split it between the two countries.
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There's no harm in trying, but Canadian presses do tend to favour works either by Canadians or about Canada. We've got no shortage of US and international content here from all other streams, so the Canadian presses have a specific mandate to publish the kind of stuff that isn't going to get published elsewhere.
That said, there are some exceptions. For instance, niche outlets may be more favourable to international submissions (eg, the sci fi journal On Spec is more favourable to international authors than many of the mainstream lit mags). Also the definition of "Canadian" is pretty flexible. You could be born in Canada, or immigrated to Canada, or lived in Canada for a few years, or just writing something set in Canada or about issues related to Canada (big ones being multiculturalism, the Arctic, or other Canadian cultural themes like maple syrup heists).
As far as distribution, that again depends on the publisher, but the smaller the press the smaller the distribution. I think House of Anansi is probably one of the bigger publishers with international distribution that isn't a subsidiary of a global publisher. One of their bestsellers last year was The Sisters Brothers, by Canadian-born Oregon resident Patrick deWitt. But keep in mind that a Canadian bestseller is 5,000 copies, so a publisher here is probably a better fit for someone seeking a specific niche rather than something looking for easy access to a big audience.
The government provides some funding to small presses in an effort to promote cultural industries. There are a number of conditions to get the funding (ownership, print runs, number of books, years in the business, etc) but one of them is 75% of the books the press produce must be written by Canadians in order for the press to qualify for the funding. Most presses I've seen have clearly defined submission guidelines and they indicate if they accept non-Canadian submissions.
Some presses don't bother with the funding and accept submissions from everywhere.
It's usually pretty easy to find out if a press actively sells foreign rights, or distributes internationally. Do lots of research on the press before you submit.