Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Foreign Authors, Local Agents

I'm in the process of finding a suitable agent for my completed novel (and hopefully my future career as a writer). I was wondering how important location is.

My predicament is that I am Norwegian living in Norway, but my novel is written in English (having lived overseas most of my life, this is my preferred language). Finding an agent in Norway is futile (writers go directly to publishers here and there is no real market for Engish books). To complicate matters further, I expect to relocate overseas again within a couple of years (location unknown). My question then is: should I seek representation in the UK (i.e. closer to me at the moment) or USA (where the storyline of this first novel is set)?

Also, is the fact that I am "overseas" a discouraging factor for literary agents when considering to take me on as an client?

No. To be fair, yes, there are a few who will say no on that basis, but I can't think of any agents I know off the top of my head. My boss certainly has a lot of overseas clients. The most important thing is to get across that you are fluent in English, as we get some people who aren't completely fluent and an occasional person who thought running their book through Babelfish would be fine. Then email the agents with your query letter and see what happens. Email agents in both the UK and US to widen your prospects, not because of the location of the novel setting.

11 comments:

Global Norskie said...

Thank you for responding. I have already been asked for a full manuscript from a UK agency. So it does appear that the location of plot (USA) is not that significant in this case. Crossing fingers! PS: Thanks for blogging - your responses have been really helpful.

Jon Paul said...

Nice to know, as the number of agents here in Baghdad, Iraq is probably low.

:D

_*Rachel*_ said...

So, it's good to know that, as I plan to live overseas for most of the rest of my life.

But do agents have anything to say about the country? If you can write well enough, does it matter that you live on Explosive Lane, West Bank, as opposed to Main Street, Tokyo? For novelists, anyway. Memoir-wise, I'd guess both would have some pretty big pluses.

fictionforge said...

Thanks for addressing this! I was really hoping being an expat wasn't going to work against me when I get ready to start querying agents.

GalaktioNova said...

Oh, thank you SO very much! I was just about to ask the same question. As an English-language Russian writer, I meet so many published Russian authors who would like to go that route, so they'll be happy to know all they need is an adequate book! :-)

Sara Parks said...

Thanks for this! Just what I've been looking for. One question though: just when should the prospective agent know you're a native from a non-English speaking country?

Anonymous said...

Hi,

as a foreign author I have a humble question for you...
My novel was published in Slovenia last year ( in slovenian language) and I wonder if I have any chances to be translated and published in english language too? Maybe I sound overambitious, but I just believe that my story has deserved to be read not only in my tiny country...
Thank you!

Rusalka

The Rejecter said...

Yeah, there's some chance. The publisher would do the translation.

Rusalka said...

Thank you for responding! Should I first try to find an agent who is working with foreign authors? I'd be very thankful for any advice, because I'm a total newbie.

The Rejecter said...

My boss handles foreign writers but usually only if they write in English or already have an agent on their end to handle translation. Query agents in your country or "international" agents who handle Europe.

Rusalka said...

Thank you, this information helps already! In my country book agents still don't not exist, so I will try my luck maybe in Germany or UK.