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IkhlasHussain
11-26-2012, 11:21 PM
I'm a Canadian writer, and my manuscript contains a lot of issues/themes that pertain to Canadian culture and understanding of multiculturalism.

I'm searching for Canadian agents to submit to, but I'm not having very much luck. My question, then, is that does it matter if I get a Canadian agent? Or will an American agent still be able to sell to a Canadian publisher to ensure that the book reaches the intended audience?

My concern is that the Canadian publishing scene is VERY different from the American one, and yet, I can't seem to find very many Canadian agents listed in my genre (general fiction/multiculturalism) to be able to represent my work. I've checked Query Tracker so far, and am now looking on AgentQuery, but there doesn't seem to be a region filter on AgentQuery. Is there anywhere else I should be looking for agents?

If anyone has any thoughts or ideas on this, it would be much appreciated.

Thanks.

Undercover
11-26-2012, 11:28 PM
Off the top of my head The Cooke Agency is one Canadian Literary Agency: http://www.cookeagency.ca/contact.htm

I think if you get a U.S. agent they would use the foreign rights commission (usually 20%) but I am not 100% sure on that. The Publisher's Marketplace is another good site to search for agents. In an advanced search, you can see if you can find Canadian agents that way too. Good luck with it.

willietheshakes
11-27-2012, 12:32 AM
The Cooke Agency, TLA, McDermid & Assoc., Denise Bukowski, Helen Heller, Westwood, Carolyn Swayze, Beverly Slopen...

And no, you don't NEED a Canadian agent to sell in Canada, but as you say, it's a very different market.

Bushrat
11-27-2012, 12:37 AM
There's a book called "The Canadian Writer's Market" that lists many agencies.

Edit: And I think your book would speak to readers in many countries. Sure, it's set in Canada, in the Canadian context, but the topics you touch on aren't of such limited interest that nobody abroad would want to read it ;)

Meems
11-27-2012, 01:18 AM
Please someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall a few discussions around here where it was mentioned that American agents sell American rights as North American rights, and that that automatically includes Canada. However, I don't know that the reverse is true.

I also remember another thread where someone mentioned that they had been asked by an interested American agent to change the setting of their story from Toronto to NYC to make it appeal to an American audience more. Keep in mind that that was one case and that all agents differ, and also that there are many Canadian writers who write about Canadian settings and who get published in the US.

Toothpaste
11-27-2012, 01:44 AM
If your book is as you say it is, then you will likely have a tough time selling it outside of Canada. Of course you can be a Canadian writer with an American agent (ie Me) but if what you are writing is uniquely Canadian, you would be far better off to keep looking into Canadian agents. You should also consider subbing to Canadian publishers. We have some excellent smaller presses.

Canada's literary scene is pretty much the only arts scene where we have a star system (actors and musicians have to leave the country before they are considered successful by Canadians). We really support our authors and Canadian content. As well as literary fiction in particular. I'd say before searching abroad you really exhaust your efforts at home. Because this seems like the perfect market for your book.

And Meems - if you sell to the States first that often includes North America. If you sell to the UK first that often includes the Commonwealth. If you sell to Canada first, you've only sold to Canada. Alas.

Undercover
11-27-2012, 01:49 AM
Toothpaste definitely has the right idea. She brings up a good point in searching for Canadian publishers too. I would agree, there are some really nice ones out there.

IkhlasHussain
11-27-2012, 02:44 AM
Thanks so much everyone!

I too have heard stories of agents/editors asking authors to change the location of their stories from Canadian locales to American ones, which is kind of scary!

And thanks Bushrat, I also don't think the issues in my MS are too region-specific and do think they should appeal to people abroad as well. It's just the Canadian culture/setting that can be rather finicky...

I'll take a look at the agencies mentioned, and also at The Canadian Writer's Market. I have picked it up before, but I didn't see a large section on agents so I think I put it back down, so I'll try it again.

Thanks again everyone.

Lady MacBeth
11-27-2012, 09:52 AM
Toothpaste definitely has the right idea. She brings up a good point in searching for Canadian publishers too. I would agree, there are some really nice ones out there.


Agree!

Sheryl Nantus
11-27-2012, 03:25 PM
Keep in mind that that was one case and that all agents differ, and also that there are many Canadian writers who write about Canadian settings and who get published in the US.

I'm one of them.

All of my stories below have been based in Toronto, my hometown.

:)

willietheshakes
11-27-2012, 05:55 PM
I also remember another thread where someone mentioned that they had been asked by an interested American agent to change the setting of their story from Toronto to NYC to make it appeal to an American audience more. Keep in mind that that was one case and that all agents differ, and also that there are many Canadian writers who write about Canadian settings and who get published in the US.

Definitely only one case these days (though it WAS an issue a couple of decades ago). It's never even been hinted that I should change the setting of my books, and Before I Wake - set in Victoria - has been published in 10 or 12 countries.

Toothpaste
11-27-2012, 06:51 PM
I think it's a matter of tone and content. If the Canadian setting is just that it's easier to sell abroad. If it's Canadian in theme though (and we Canadians know what that means) it's a much harder sell. From the description of the book it sounded like Canadian lit fic, dealing with the Canadian identity theme. If it is broader than that, it has a shot.

I didn't think I was being unreasonable in my advice, especially as there is a fantastic market for that kind of fiction here. And the OP can always try the States. I just thought this really sounded like a Canadian book.

Bushrat
11-27-2012, 07:31 PM
From the description of the book it sounded like Canadian lit fic, dealing with the Canadian identity theme. If it is broader than that, it has a shot.

As much as we Canadians like to think the identity question is ours and ours alone, it's not. To me, her story about a young muslim woman caught between two cultures and finding love along the way sounds like it would have quite a broad appeal.

Toothpaste
11-27-2012, 09:14 PM
No, I'm not saying the concept of identity is ours and ours alone. I am saying the concept of Canadian identity is ours alone. Most of our lit fic market is focused on that. A uniquely Canadian theme. She knows her work best. And she hardly described it here. I was making some guesses based on a very limited description and the fact that she was interested in Canadian agents in the first place (I never even bothered with Canadian agents knowing that my work was not likely to appeal to them). You made other assumptions. Neither of us can know who is right, the only one who knows what's right for their story is the OP. I'm not sure what is ultimately right for this book. I have recommended to other Canadians to pursue a broader market, but I also think depending on the kind of book, there is great opportunity in Canada for a certain kind of fiction and it would be a shame to totally not even try here if one is writing that kind of fiction.

There are universal themes, absolutely. But there are also uniquely Canadian ones. And Canadian authors can be rewarded handsomely for writing about such. If in any way I have been coming across like Canada is the be all and end all, I'm sorry. As a Canadian author who has a NYC agent, is being published by an American house (and distributed up here), who's first agent was in the UK, I'm well aware we are capable of writing other stuff. I was just trying to be helpful. That's all.

neilfriske
11-27-2012, 10:42 PM
I'm one of them.

All of my stories below have been based in Toronto, my hometown.

:)

I'm in Toronto, myself. All my stories are based in Ontario. I reference Canadian crap like Tim horton's, Trudeau and health cards all the time. I'm worried about having to pay a 20% fee if my Agent is in america.

Sheryl Nantus
11-27-2012, 10:57 PM
I'm worried about having to pay a 20% fee if my Agent is in america.

:Shrug:

I don't get it.

KTC
11-27-2012, 11:09 PM
Identity discussion aside, I'm on the organizing committee for the Ontario Writers' Conference. Last year we had 6 agents at the conference...we will have a number of agents at the conference again this year. Registration opens in early December. Now, you have to register to attend the conference in order to book a pitch session with an agent...but it is something you can think about. You get several minutes with the agent of your choosing from the ones in attendance. All 2013 details will be posted to the site within the next 2 weeks.

www.thewritersconference.com

Just a thought...I don't want to push the conference here, but the face time with an agent is invaluable, right. The conference is in Ajax, which is JUST east of Toronto.

Kevin

KTC
11-27-2012, 11:10 PM
:Shrug:

I don't get it.


They mean 20% instead of 15%. Often, if a Canadian has an American agent, the agent gets 20% instead of 15%.

IkhlasHussain
11-27-2012, 11:11 PM
Thanks for the info, Kevin! I didn't know about it before you mentioned it, but I'm definitely interested now. Some time face to face with an agent would be AMAZING, so I'll look into this...


Identity discussion aside, I'm on the organizing committee for the Ontario Writers' Conference. Last year we had 6 agents at the conference...we will have a number of agents at the conference again this year. Registration opens in early December. Now, you have to register to attend the conference in order to book a pitch session with an agent...but it is something you can think about. You get several minutes with the agent of your choosing from the ones in attendance. All 2013 details will be posted to the site within the next 2 weeks.

www.thewritersconference.com

Just a thought...I don't want to push the conference here, but the face time with an agent is invaluable, right. The conference is in Ajax, which is JUST east of Toronto.

Kevin

KTC
11-27-2012, 11:12 PM
For the record...the book in my avi...it's based in The Beaches district of Toronto...it is 100% Canadian...it even features Gordon Lightfoot as one of its characters. (-:

It is published by an American publisher.

KTC
11-27-2012, 11:14 PM
Thanks for the info, Kevin! I didn't know about it before you mentioned it, but I'm definitely interested now. Some time face to face with an agent would be AMAZING, so I'll look into this...


2013 will be our 5th conference...so we're getting a lot more notice lately. Last year was the first year we were able to attract agents. Now, they are asking to attend. We're quite pleased!

Sheryl Nantus
11-27-2012, 11:15 PM
I actually had a Canadian agent reject my book because, wait for it...

....

she said it didn't have enough Canadian elements.

That would be the superhero one. *points down* With a Canadian main character who works/lives on Queen Street West.

That takes place IN Toronto and has a huge final battle scene over Lake Ontario at the CNE grounds.

Yep. Not enough Canadian content.

:)

IkhlasHussain
11-27-2012, 11:18 PM
Thank you for your insight into this topic, Toothpaste.

The concept of Canadian identity is definitely our own, and it is something that is unique to us. But at the same time, I still believe the themes of acceptance, belonging, multiculturalism, etc. will appeal to other audiences.

I'm just concerned that my MS may be TOO Canadian, if you know what I mean? But given everyone's input on the topic, I don't think there's such a thing!


No, I'm not saying the concept of identity is ours and ours alone. I am saying the concept of Canadian identity is ours alone. Most of our lit fic market is focused on that. A uniquely Canadian theme. She knows her work best. And she hardly described it here. I was making some guesses based on a very limited description and the fact that she was interested in Canadian agents in the first place (I never even bothered with Canadian agents knowing that my work was not likely to appeal to them). You made other assumptions. Neither of us can know who is right, the only one who knows what's right for their story is the OP. I'm not sure what is ultimately right for this book. I have recommended to other Canadians to pursue a broader market, but I also think depending on the kind of book, there is great opportunity in Canada for a certain kind of fiction and it would be a shame to totally not even try here if one is writing that kind of fiction.

There are universal themes, absolutely. But there are also uniquely Canadian ones. And Canadian authors can be rewarded handsomely for writing about such. If in any way I have been coming across like Canada is the be all and end all, I'm sorry. As a Canadian author who has a NYC agent, is being published by an American house (and distributed up here), who's first agent was in the UK, I'm well aware we are capable of writing other stuff. I was just trying to be helpful. That's all.

IkhlasHussain
11-27-2012, 11:20 PM
Yikes! Yeah, as a Canadian, those locations are COMPLETELY unfamiliar to me. :)


I actually had a Canadian agent reject my book because, wait for it...

....

she said it didn't have enough Canadian elements.

That would be the superhero one. *points down* With a Canadian main character who works/lives on Queen Street West.

That takes place IN Toronto and has a huge final battle scene over Lake Ontario at the CNE grounds.

Yep. Not enough Canadian content.

:)

Toothpaste
11-27-2012, 11:42 PM
They mean 20% instead of 15%. Often, if a Canadian has an American agent, the agent gets 20% instead of 15%.

Not sure to what this is referring, but I have an American agent and she gets 15% of domestic and then a higher percentage on foreign sales. But Canada is often sold WITH America, so you aren't paying 20% to have your book sold in Canada. Personally I haven't had my American agent sell my work to just a Canadian house, so I'm going to find out if you get charged 20% for that. But I kind of figure the point of having an American agent is to sell to the broader American market, so it would make more sense to have them be your domestic agent in the first place. I think.

Also the conference is fantastic! I went last year, and I was totally blown away by it. Go go!

Bushrat
11-28-2012, 01:22 AM
@Toothpaste - I don't disagree with you at all :) Just when looking for an agent and trying to figure out who the readership is, I think it's beneficial to look at the broad picture and narrow it down from there rather than think in terms of niche market right away.

The decisions are obviously the OP's. Maybe it would be worthwhile querying US agents and see what they say.


she said it didn't have enough Canadian elements.

That would be the superhero one. *points down* With a Canadian main character who works/lives on Queen Street West.

That takes place IN Toronto and has a huge final battle scene over Lake Ontario at the CNE grounds.

Yep. Not enough Canadian content.

Did you mention Tim Hortons, though? What about Peter Mansbridge? And did you include the words "two solitudes"?

KTC
11-28-2012, 04:00 PM
Not sure to what this is referring, but I have an American agent and she gets 15% of domestic and then a higher percentage on foreign sales. But Canada is often sold WITH America, so you aren't paying 20% to have your book sold in Canada. Personally I haven't had my American agent sell my work to just a Canadian house, so I'm going to find out if you get charged 20% for that. But I kind of figure the point of having an American agent is to sell to the broader American market, so it would make more sense to have them be your domestic agent in the first place. I think.

Also the conference is fantastic! I went last year, and I was totally blown away by it. Go go!

Thanks so much for the comment about the conference! (-:

You know...I think I was a bit confused. I have an American agent...it is International that gets 20%...I originally thought my American agent would get 20% because of the border...but I was wrong and quickly learned so. They include Canada in their 15% market...It's the rest of the world that falls into the 20% category. So Canadians would pay their agent the same amount whether they have a Canadian or American agent. Well, I shouldn't say that for sure...I don't know if it's an across the board rule, or an agency to agency thing. I know that I would pay 15% to my agent if she sells my manuscript to an American publisher.

I do think that's what the OP was referring to, though...when the 15% and 20% comment was made. Though, I can't speak for them. (-;

Sheryl Nantus
11-28-2012, 06:03 PM
Did you mention Tim Hortons, though? What about Peter Mansbridge? And did you include the words "two solitudes"?

YES!

no... no...

darn.

;)

P-Jay
12-07-2012, 08:38 PM
Just wanted to chime in and say thanks for all the information in here.

I'm from Vancouver, BC. My novel is contemporary YA and the story takes place here in Vancouver (based off a true story).

I wasn't sure where to go, looking for an agent. But this thread has given me a lot of valuable information.

Dropping in and saying thanks is the least I can do!