Guest Post + Giveaway: Kristi Charish – 5 Things I’ve Learned About Getting Published in Canada
When we were sent an advance copy of Owl and the Japanese Circus last year, it quickly became one of our favourite books and author Kristi Charish quickly became one of our favourite new authors.
2015 is a huge year for Kristi, Owl came out at the beginning of January, the follow up novel comes out January 2016 and her second urban fantasy series has been picked up for a mid 2016 release. But somewhere in her busy schedule, Krist has made time to drop by our blog for a guest post to discuss the Canadian publishing world and we are honoured to have her here!
5 Things I’ve Learned About
Getting Published in Canada
Veronica and Ashley at City Girl Scapes were nice enough to let me on their blog today! Since they mentioned some of their readers were aspiring authors, I figured I’d put together a list of things I’ve learned in the past year on my path to publication. Now, keep in mind I am new- as in very new- I’ve only been writing for 5 years. However, in the last year I’ve had five books in two series picked up by major publishers Simon and Schuster (Owl and the Japanese Circus) and Random House Canada (Kincaid Strange). My goal here is to share some things that surprised me and hopefully give a bit of insight on how getting published worked for me!
You don’t need to go to New York
A lot of editors, agents, and publishers will say that in order to be taken seriously in publishing you need a New York agent. Like most sayings that transverse the decades (and this one has) there is a sliver of truth in it. New York is considered the world’s book publishing capital and most major publishing deals are at some point routed through New York. Before the age of Internet, having an agent with a presence in New York was considered crucial to having a sustainable writing career.
That’s changed. A lot of big agents can now work remotely, communicating with publishers digitally and only visiting the NY publishing houses a few times a year.
My bigger issue with this piece of advice though is that it’s American centric. Most countries in the world have their own robust publishing scenes and stables of international agents. The UK, France, Canada, Australia- you can find literary agents stabled in major cities that represent major authors from their own nationalities. Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld) and Yann Martel (Life of Pi) are an example of Canadian authors represented by Canadian agents.
If you are a Canadian author looking for a break into publishing, it’s well worth your time query Canadian agents. You cut out the American and International competition (and they’re all after New York agents) and increase your chances of taking advantage of the Canadian publishing scene. And considering just how much competition there is out there, take every advantage you can get!
Less Competition, Fewer Opportunities
Now, there’s a caveat to having less competition this side of the border. Fewer opportunities.
But there are Canadian publishers here. In fact, just about every major house has a Canadian publishing branch. Who publish Canadian authors.
Granted, there are fewer of them. Each house only has a few acquiring editors, compared to dozens of acquiring editors in the American houses. Per imprint. Still, the Canadian branches though smaller publish Canadian authors.
There’s another reason to consider trying a Canadian house. In my opinion, and I think it’s especially true for genres like urban fantasy, you have a better chance of getting your book in print (though there is no guarantee). I write urban fantasy, and let me tell you there an awful lot of urban fantasy coming out. So much so the vast majority of it is now only released digitally (Unless you are Charlaine Harris or another big name urban fantasy author). In my case, my first book OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS was released as a print book in Canada, but only as an ebook in the US. If I wasn’t a Canadian, I doubt there would be a physical book in stores up here and having a bookstore presence is important for author visibility. There are fewer Canadian authors out there publishing- not a slam on Canadian fiction, there are just fewer of us in general so a smaller reading/writing population. Being one of the few Canadian authors in print is a huge advantage.
Lot’s of patterns, no rules.
Take everything I’ve said up until this point with a grain of salt. There are a lot of patterns in publishing and you’ll find no shortage of people trying to assign rules to them.
There is no such thing. For every single hard and fast rule you will find a handful of authors who break it.
EX: You’ll never make anything of yourself self-publishing: Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking broke that one spectacularly.
Don’t write fan fiction. No publisher will take you seriously: Yeah, tell that to E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Anna Todd (After/Wattpad One Direction Fanfic).
Now, I’m not suggesting that if you do either of those things you’ll be successful. My point is those are just two of the hard and fast rules you’ll hear at writing conferences and workshops and yet people build careers on breaking them and other writing rules all the time. Don’t let the rules discourage you. You might just be the next author to break one.
No one will pay you to write a book.
There is this perverse and pervasive myth amongst hopeful authors that if they just make the right connection, sneak into the right party, and figure out the secret handshake, they will earn admittance to the land of lollypops and unicorns, where editors pay you, the unproven debut author to write a book they’ve never seen.
No one is going to give you money to write a novel (except celebrities, and even then, they don’t get paid to write the book, a ghost writer with an extensive portfolio does).
A novel is a product that a publisher is contracting from and author. Unless you have an extensive, commercially proven portfolio, no one is going to pay you for a product they can’t see.
There is no secret handshake or mystical industry party in Shangri-la. Which brings me to my last point.
You have to write the novel
There’s a psychology study in here somewhere about the number of hopeful authors who try to get around the task of actually writing a novel. Computer programs that claim to help you outline and plot your novel to perfection, writing exercises geared to improve your prose, writer conventions and workshops to attend…
Those can all be awesome tools but they do not replace the act of writing. The only way to get a novel published is to write one. Sorry, no shortcuts.
So, that’s it. Five things I’ve learned on my path to publication. If hey are helpful, awesome, if not I hope they at the very least provide insight into an often strange always interesting world.