Friday, 1 July 2011


It's Canada Day today!

To mark the occasion I'll draw your attention to two new lists you'll find in the sidebar:  
Canadian Literary Agents' Websites
Canadian Publishers Who Accept Submissions.

And, while rooting around in the sidebar you could check out Canadian Publishers' Blogs.

To be clear, if you do not reside in Canada then you will likely not have any success with approaching Canadian publishers and agents. If you have a UK or US agent and you feel need for some sort of presence in Canada then let them do the talking; they will likely have a preferred Canadian sub-agent.

A little over two years ago I penned some thoughts on Canadian literary enterprise HERE. From what I can deduce nothing much appears to have changed; a few publishers, such as Key Porter Books, have since gone out of business. The most significant change is the re-branding and re-invigoration of the Association for the Export of Canadian Books.

However, since writing the post I've learned a bit more about Canadian writing and, more importantly, have met 5 more Canadians, three of whom are writers, and of whom, Ellen Frith, had a novel published by Oolichan Books. Ellen also very helpfully posted a review of my novel, After Goya on Amazon UK.  The book is also available at Amazon Canada (but no review and annoying typos in the product description) for only CDN$ 14.60.
And you can buy a secondhand copy of Ellen's novel, Man-S-Laughter HERE .

I was surprised to learn that according to the Association of Canadian Publishers, Canada only publishes  10,000 English language titles a year. That's really not very many in comparison with the UK (approximately 250,000 titles a year), and is on a par with Hong Kong and Argentina, though marginally more than Australia. With a population of a few hundred thousand over 34 million I would have expected a much larger figure - somewhere nearer the 86,000 Spanish titles that are published in Spain (pop. 47 million). Spanish publishers also feed markets in Central and South America. So, why isn't Canadian feeding markets in other Anglophone countries?

Given as it appears, from outside looking in, to have a well-developed network of support systems in place, given its linguistic diversity and possible access to French language markets, given its physical proximity to the US market, given its cultural links with the UK, and Scotland particularly, given its links via the Commonwealth, I cannot fathom why Canadian publishers are not more expansive in their ambition. Methinks someone (like the British Cheese Board!) isn't doing their job.

Perhaps, with so many agencies and organisations involved in Canadian book production and distribution, it's a case of everyone thinking someone else is doing something and leaving the task solely with Livres Canada Books.

Maybe someone HERE could be talking to this chap HERE if they want to get a bit of action going in terms of exploring the Scottish diaspora. And maybe, they could be talking to someone HERE if they want to explore French language links.

The Canadian Arts Council's site lists 28 different schemes specifically for literary production and distribution. 28 schemes! That's simply fodder for bureaucrats. And, that figure does not include support available through the Canada Book Fund, state and local government agencies.

Look at the opening page for the Canadian Arts Council's English language site. Not very welcoming is it? The very first thing is a notice pleading with people to not rip off any images. Agreed artists, illustrators, photographers should be credited and remunerated. But, come on ... Where is the happy smiling welcome? Where is the rallying call? The inspiration? Where are the links to the people and the faces in the organisation? 

More encouraging news is in this extract from the Writers' Union of Canada:
"You do not have to have an agent in order to be published in Canada. About 70 per cent of the books published in Canada do not have an agent-assisted contract. There are also so few agents that it can sometimes be easier to find a publisher on your own. However, there are some publishers who will not accept unsolicited manuscripts at all and will deal only with agents."
You know the rigmarole and how to use this information. If not, spend time learning the rigmarole and apply it.

If you want to explore current Canadian literary endeavour in more depth then check out these sites:
And you should definetly check out places for writers - a very useful and informative site, well worth a visit.

And, if you want to get a better handle on why Canadian publishing is as it is, then check out this fascinating site, hosted by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Happy Canada Day!


  1. Regarding the description typos, I suggest you contact Amazon and ask them to correct the copy. I've found them very responsive.

  2. Hi, many thanks for the tip. I first noticed the typos on the Amazon Japan site -- and thought it was the result of a glitch in the translation software -- but then I noticed the same erroors across most Amazon sites.
    I contacted Amazon - and they informed me that will only correct product descriptions for books on instruction from the publisher.
    The Book Depository, and Blackwell's, were very quick with their response and amended the description -- only for the next day for the typos to re-apear -- as a result of the overnight feed from Nielsen's book data. So, the publisher contacted Nielsen's and it was sorted out - with all retailers except Amazon and other US based retailers. Thanks for taking time and trouble to post a comment. Regards