Saturday, August 22, 2009

Aussie Power

I am an unpublished YA writer from Australia and I want to eventually break into the American publishing market (by which I mean an American Agent/Publisher) due to the fact that the Australian industry is currently in dire straits and the YA industry isn't as big here anyway.
So, my question is: do you think that Editors (or even Agents) would be turned off by a ms that was set in Australia? I'm write mainly urban fantasy/paranormal but I can't just set it in an U.S. city since I've never been over there... What do you think? Is there no hope? Should I try and get an Aus agent and forgot all about my American dreams?
No, there's no inherent problem in setting your story in Australia, any more than there's a problem setting your story in Germany (The Book Thief), Japan (The Great Fire) or Somewhere Else (Dreamhunter, The Arrival). If the only thing that your Australian readers identify with is the Australianism of your work, then that's a problem, but if you've got involving characters and plot, no worries.

Keep Melina Marchetta, Jaclyn Moriarty, Sonya Hartnett, and the many other successful Australian imports to the U.S. in mind, and write.


Unknown said...

Would you say that works the other way around? I have read many books by British authors and thoroughly enjoyed them because they give you a great idea of setting and mood, and I know a lot of authors get translated into other languages and published in Australia/Britain. Do you think setting affects how popular our books are to them at all?

Gary Corby said...

Take heart, it can be done. I did it. I'm writing historical mysteries, so it's not your genre, but I'm in Sydney, Australia, writing books set in Classical Greece, have an agent in NY (Janet Reid) and a contract with Minotaur.

I don't believe it makes any difference where you are in the world physically. Everyone works by email anyway. Be warned if you sell to the US you'll need a magic number from the IRS called an ITIN.

Anonymous said...

Of course it works the other way around, TLH. Why wouldn't it?

Judith said...

It's been a little while since I was a young adult, but when I was one, I loved reading books that took place in other countries. I'd imagine that kids interested in paranormal/urban fantasy would also be interested in other countries.

Literaticat said...

Melina Marchetta, Garth Nix, Barry Jonsberg, Marcus Zusak, Margo Lanagan, Justine Larbalestier, Simmone Howell, Catherine Jinks, Alyssa Brugman, Lisa Shanahan, John Marsden... Jeez, the list of great Aussie YA authors is long and AWESOME.

It is a known fact that the world has a crush on Australians. The US publishing world is no exception. You might (MIGHT) have to take out some regionalisms in vocabulary for a US market - but that depends a lot on the editor who gets your book.

Anyway, if you are a good enough writer, an agent won't care if you live on Mars and set your stories on Pluto. Australia is no problem.

Anonymous said...

due to the fact that the Australian industry is currently in dire straits

I'm not sure that's correct: year on year, I think the Australian market is weathering the recession better than the US and UK markets. (Can't find a link to the most recent data, but I will keep looking.) And the effect of (possibly) abolishing territorial copyright is still not known.

That's not to say that this writer shouldn't pursue a US agent or publisher, just that our industry is more buoyant than suggested here. (Particularly kids and YA, which is currently outgrowing the rest of the market.)

Peter Cooper said...

Getting a book set in Australia published in the US would probably be easier than getting a book set in the US published in Australia - at least from my (limited) experience.

I wouldn't give up on the local industry, though - there's still lots of agents taking submissions and new books being published here (in Oz, that is).

I wish you luck.

Robin Lemke said...

And keep in mind that on the whole, Americans love Australia!

Chris Eldin said...

Author, Are you who I think you are?

If so, your writing rocks! I can't wait to see your book(s) on U.S. shelves!!!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Don't forget Margaret Mahy!!! (One of my childhood favorites, and she's still writing...)

I used to love Australian books as a kid.... the whole "Celebrating Christmas with a BBQ on the beach" thing was kid of trippy, though. =)

Anonymous said...

Have to make the comment - as an Australian - that the industry here isn't really in dire straits, they're just really picky about what goes to market.

So... the good news is, if you can make it here, you can probably make it anywhere.

The bad news is, it may be your story and/or your writing.

Blaming the market is always the easier option than doing a little self-examination of your work.

Trixie said...

A good book is a good book.

Virginia Lowe said...

In Melbourne we have a conference every two years on YA fiction, Reading Matters. This year, MT Anderson was visiting from America. In his opening speech he said that Australian imports make up 2% of the American market, but 20% of the winners/shortlisted for the Prinze Award for Young Adult Fiction. He said we are a significant force in the world of YA fiction.

Anica Lewis said...

Not only can it be fascinating to read books set in unfamiliar locales, but I would think that an Australian setting would have the same kind of nonthreateningly-familiar appeal for American readers that British ones do.

Anonymous said...

I'm late to this, but in case the querier comes back... I'm not a YA writer (I write commercial/women's fiction) but I am well and truly Australian, and my recently- published-in-Australia first novel, After The Fall, was subsequently picked up by a divine, superb US agent (Stephanie Abou at Foundry in NY) and then sold to OMG-I-still-can't-quite-believe-it US publisher Doubleday, who are bringing it out in hardback next year (June 2010). My novel is really quite Australian- characters meet at the Melbourne Cup and the Melbourne Museum, holiday on the Mornington Peninsula and in Gippsland, come from the Wimmera and obviously use Australian idiom. No-one seems to think that's going to be a problem, so I'm not going to argue with them. Hopefully a decent story is the main thing.
My main hint is that my US agent was procured through my Australian one- obiously agents worldwide have contacts, and believe me, it was a heck of a lot easier to have my agent send her US contact an email suggesting she read the book than me have to try and get a US agent from scratch. I'm not sure, but it seems to me that that whole acquiring an agent process is easier in Australia than in the US... Oh, and Gary is dead right about the ITIN thing. A complete and utter PITA to acquire, but vital. Good luck!
Kylie Ladd

Anonymous said...

Oh, and in terms of the Australian publishing industry being in trouble, possibly the querier is referring to this:

It's certainly a worry for new/unpublished/yet to be established Australian writers.


Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate but writers who are rejected here in Australia tend to think that only US agents and publishers will "recognise" their talent. I agree with the other Anonymous - take a good hard look at your writing first.
The YA and children's market here is very healthy right now. So don't blame the publishers.

Anonymous said...

Margaret Mahy is from New Zealand. Just sayin'.

Lilit Hotham said...

"Getting a book set in Australia published in the US would probably be easier than getting a book set in the US published in Australia - at least from my (limited) experience."

Ah crud... I knew this would become a problem for me. My novel falls into the latter category. Typical. Thanks for the reality check but I'll give it a whirl anyway! :)

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