The essential guide for freelance writers, now completely updated and revised.
The Canadian Writer's Market is the authority on who publishes what and how best to bring your work to their attention. It offers practical advice on everything from manuscript preparation to copyright law, from information on pay rates to writers' workshops. This useful guide also includes comprehensive and up-to-date listings for: comsumer magazines; literary and scholarly journals; trade, business, and professional publications; daily newspapers; book publishers; literary agents; awards, competitions, and grants; writers' organizations and support agencies; writers' workshops, courses, and retreats.
You may write for your own enjoyment or for the challenge of it, but it’s not until your work is published – made public – that you can truly call yourself a writer. Presumably, too, you write in the hope of making some money. If, however, you have to begin by writing for publishers who can’t afford to pay you, you will still gain valuable experience, compile a clipping file, and increase your confidence for more lucrative assignments to come.
The Canadian Writer’s Market is designed to serve both the aspiring and the experienced freelance writer who wants to get his or her work published but needs some guidelines and/or accurate up-to-date listings of potential markets. Use this reference tool as a guide to prepare your manuscript, acquire a literary agent, approach an editor, evaluate a contract, choose a writing class, find style guides and how-to writing books, join a writers’ organization, obtain funding, or enter a writers’ competition. Refer to it also to determine which publishers to pursue and what they pay for freelance work.
This new, eighteenth edition of The Canadian Writer’s Market includes the most current information available on market opportunities in Canadian publishing. It is an industry in flux and expansion, where data change with regularity, making it imperative that this reference book maintain the standard of accuracy freelance writers have come to depend upon. Back in the 1970s, when The Canadian Writer’s Market was first published, the country sported a mere 100 consumer magazines, about 150 trade journals, two dozen or so farm publications, and 147 book publishers. Today there are almost 1,800 Canadian magazines listed in CARD (Canadian Advertising Rates and Data) alone, and over 800 English and French book publishers. The Canadian Writer’s Market has always kept pace.
This edition lists only English-language publishers and publications, although some publishers are bilingual. Readers looking to sell their work in the French-language market in Canada should examine CARD for French-language magazines and Quill & Quire’s biannual guide, the Canadian Publishers Directory, for a full listing of French-language book publishers.
As in previous editions, The Canadian Writer’s Market puts magazines into three groups: Consumer Magazines; Literary & Scholarly Publications; and Trade, Business, Farm, & Professional Publications. To facilitate your research to find a suitable market, or to recycle an article to other buyers, these groups have been broken down further, according to subject. Consumer magazines appear in fourteen sub-groups: arts and cultural; business; city and entertainment; the environment; feminist; general interest; home and hobby; lifestyle; news, opinions, and issues; special interest; sports and outdoors; travel and tourism; women’s; and youth and children’s. Trade publications are divided into twenty-one sub-sections according to the professions or trades they serve. A section of prominent business journals is included in Chapter 1 in order to describe in greater detail the market they offer, but many comparable business publications retain a simplified listing in Chapter 3.
Inevitably, however, these classifications are somewhat arbitrary and have a tendency to overlap. Even the distinction between consumer and trade publications is sometimes difficult to delineate. Some “trade” periodicals – the book industry’s Quill & Quire, for instance – have such a general popularity that they are considered consumer magazines.
As a freelance writer, your manuscript is your product, and it should have a professional, uncluttered appearance. That means it ought to be as grammatically correct as you can make it and without any spelling mistakes. The more editorial work the publisher has to do on your article or book, the more expensive and time-consuming it becomes to produce; consequently, the less attractive it becomes.
A manuscript should be presented on standard 8½-by-11-inch, 20-pound, white bond paper. Your work should be computer-generated, so later it can be formatted from your electronic files. The font you select must be easily readable; italic or sans-serif typefaces should not be used as your primary font. The manuscript must be double-spaced and the margins at least one inch wide; this gives an editor space in which to write suggestions, queries, and editorial notations. The main body of text should be justified to the left-hand margins, and each page must be numbered.
The first page of your manuscript should prominently display the title of your work followed by your name. In one corner put your name again with your mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address. It is also a good idea (but not necessary) to include on this sheet a copyright notice (© Mary Smith) and the word count. To begin each chapter, start partway down the page with the chapter number and its title, if any.
A manuscript should not be bound or stapled; this impedes the editorial process. For a book-length manuscript, simply fasten it with elastic bands and support it between two sheets of cardboard, front and back, or better still, place it in a box. A magazine article can be secured with paper clips. Never send a publisher the only copy of your work.
If you are submitting your article in response to an editor’s invitation or if you have signed a contract with a book publisher, it is likely you will be asked for an electronic copy of your work as well. Inquire as to what program and format is required. Microsoft Word is usually a safe bet. You may need to submit each article or chapter of a book in a separate file, but this varies from publisher to publisher.
By style, most book and magazine editors mean the conventions of spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. There is, of course, no universally accepted manual for style because it varies from periodical to periodical, publishing house to publishing house, fiction to nonfiction, from genre to genre, and from discipline to discipline. Writers should remember, however, that style is an integral part of their craft, and by showing a blatant disregard for it, they can quite inadvertently prejudice an editor against their work.
Writers are expected to observe at least some of the basic house rules, and these should be obvious in what has already been published by those magazines and book-publishing houses for which they aspire to write. If they are not, the writer is always wise to find out as much as possible about what these rules are, and what stylistic traits – as idiosyncratic as many may appear to be – are preferred.
Canadian newspapers generally follow the Canadian Press Stylebook (which also contains some good tips on reporting), and magazines tend to develop their own standards and preferences from one authoritative source, or a compilation of several. Book publishers, however, usually adhere to well-known manuals. A selection of the best style and resource books is provided at the end of this book. Very often, a publishing house has compiled its own guide to house style, and the aspiring writer should never be afraid to ask for a copy of this.
Sending Out Queries and Submissions
It is crucial to research which magazine, newspaper, or book publisher is the best fit for your idea or manuscript. The listings in The Canadian Writer’s Market are designed to help you determine the best publisher for your writing. In addition, read back issues of periodicals and newspapers, and study book publishers’ catalogues to make sure you will not be wasting either your time or that of the editor. It’s a mark of a professional to know what market in which to place your work.
Unless specifically told to do so, it is unwise to send queries or submissions by fax or e-mail. If e-mail is acceptable, resist the urge to become more informal or to take less care with your correspondence.
Of course, once you are ready to submit your writing, or even just send queries about it, you must maintain accurate records. Keep a list of dates that manuscripts or query letters were sent out, what publishers they were sent to, the date the editor responded, his or her comments, whether or not the work was sold, and, if you are fortunate, the payment particulars.
There is nothing wrong with sending the same article, proposal, or book manuscript to more than one potential market at the same time. It is your work, after all, so you can do with it whatever you please. But unless you are sending off material simultaneously to magazines that are happy to buy second, third, or fourth rights (which we discuss later), you could run into problems.
The practice can sometimes be unethical. Busy magazines need at least a month to assess an idea or a manuscript properly, sometimes more. During this time, several people may be assigned the job of writing an informed critique explaining to the writer and the senior editor how the manuscript or article is effective, how it isn’t, and what revisions may be necessary.
In publishing houses, this work takes considerably longer and is correspondingly more expensive. Judging a promising book proposal or an intriguing manuscript of two or three hundred pages usually means that an editor must set aside present work. If the editor is busy, an assistant or an outside reader might be engaged to do this job instead. Readers may be hired for their specialized expertise, to judge whether a writer has covered his or her chosen subject, be it fact or fiction, well and accurately. If an idea or manuscript appears tempting, the publisher may recruit market researchers to assess its sales potential. By sending the same material to several houses, the writer may automatically involve them all in the expense of assessing something only one of them would eventually be able to acquire.
Indeed, to established writers, the idea of simultaneous submissions is distasteful. Knowing how overworked editors can be, they give them reasonable time to respond – about six weeks for a magazine and three months or longer for a publishing house. If after that they have heard nothing, they fire off a reminder, then turn immediately to other productive work. The publishing business is notorious for its slowness, and, unfortunately, this is something all writers have to accept.
All publishers are under pressure to reduce costs wherever possible. Postage rates have soared in recent years, and so for any business that relies heavily on our mail system, they represent a bigger expense than ever. It should now be taken for granted that if you want your manuscript returned, you must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) so that it will not incur any cost to the publisher. Increasingly, publishers will assume that you do not want your material back if an SASE is not included, and will simply recycle it.
Magazine and book editors stress this point again and again, and writers ignore it at their peril. If submitting to U.S. publishers, enclose international postage coupons or keep a supply of American stamps. You can order them online at http://shop.usps.com.
Authors must learn to cope with rejection. First-timers might draw comfort from the knowledge of how many great writers could have papered their walls with publishers’ rejection letters received early in their careers. Faulkner’s great work The Sound and the Fury was rejected thirteen times before finding a publisher, as, coincidentally, was William Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Ironweed. On an altogether different scale, big-selling English crime writer John Creasey is said to have received no fewer than 744 rejections during his career!
Since editors usually don’t have time to issue more than a standard rejection note, take heart if the rejection is sugared with qualified praise or, better still, specific constructive criticism. Chances are the editor is not simply letting you down gently but genuinely sees value in your work. Be open to suggestions, and rework your manuscript according to the advice. Take note of the editor’s name and resubmit your improved work to the same person.
Copyright means the sole right to reproduce – or allow others to reproduce – a literary or artistic work. If you own a copyright, you are solely responsible for ensuring it is not infringed, and if you use work that belongs to another, you must respect his or her copyright rights. Therefore, as a freelance writer, you must have at least a general understanding of this area of law.
Here are some of the most frequently posed questions about copyright, with general answers:
What types of work are protected by copyright law?
According to the Copyright Act, writing is protected by copyright law “if the author has used labour, skill, and ingenuity to arrange his or her ideas.” It may include poetry, novels, non-fiction works, compilations of literary works, catalogues, tables, reports, translations of these works, computer programs, unpublished writing, letters, e-mail, speeches, and song lyrics. Photographs and artwork are also protected by copyright.
When does copyright protection begin?
It begins upon creation rather than on publication.
Is every piece of written work copyrighted?
No. In Canada, copyright on a work lasts for the life of the author plus fifty years. In the United States, it lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years. After that, the work falls into the public domain and may be legally copied at will.
How can I tell who the rightful owner of a copyright is?
In the first few pages of a book or magazine there is a copyright notice. Typically it will read, “Copyright Josephine Blow, 2010” or “© Joseph P. Blow & Sons, Publishers, 2010.” In Canada, the use of the symbol “©” is not required to establish copyright, but it is recommended. If you hold the copyright, you may use this symbol even if you have not registered your work with the Copyright Office.
The publisher’s address will usually be printed above or below the copyright notice. Even if the copyright is held in the author’s name, it is generally the publisher who has the right by contract to authorize reprints of excerpts. If, however, the author has retained these rights exclusively, which may sometimes be the case, he or she can be contacted through the publisher.
If you have difficulty contacting the copyright owner, try searching the Canadian Copyrights Database at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (www.cipo.ic.gc.ca). Sometimes copyright is held by collectives who administer the copyrights for their clients. A list of these collectives is available at www.cb-cda.gc.ca/societies-societes/index-e.html.
How does copyright infringement occur?
Usually through carelessness or ignorance. Few writers deliberately set out to steal something that doesn’t belong to them. They either quote too much of someone else’s work without first seeking permission to do so, or use previously written words without making a sufficient effort to rework them.
What is too much of someone else’s work?
The answer to this isn’t easy. It depends on several factors, principally the quantity and quality of the portion taken and whether its use will detract from the impact and/or the marketability of the original. No one minds if a writer uses a line or two from a book and indicates their source; to reproduce three or four key paragraphs without permission, however – even with an attribution – could lead to problems.
Some book publishers have established a guideline whereby permission is applied for if 100 or more words are borrowed from a single source. But, as previously stated, this is not a hard and fast rule. If the material is a key component of the original, permission may be necessary for far fewer words. Permission is required for the use of even one line of a song lyric or two lines from a short poem.
When it is determined that permission is necessary, the writer should contact the copyright holder to ask for the right to reproduce the work, quoting the extract(s) he or she wants to use in full, giving a true indication of context, details of the format (a magazine article, script, or book), size of audience or print run, the territory in which the periodical or book will be published, and the price of the publication. A neophyte writer wanting to use 100 words for publication in a small magazine probably will not be charged what a name writer would be expected to pay for a similar-sized extract in an article for one of the big players.
How can I copyright my work?
According to the Copyright Act of Canada, the act of creating the work is enough to establish copyright.
If, however, you feel there is a chance that one day the ownership of your manuscript may be in dispute or you want to be extra cautious, you may register it for a fee with the Copyright Office. If your work is registered in this way, you would be in a much stronger position if the case ever went to court. It would be up to the other party to prove that you are not the creator of your work.
You can also mail a copy of your manuscript to yourself in a registered package containing the date of creation. This will provide you with a dated receipt. Store the unopened package and its receipt in a safe place in case the manuscript’s rightful ownership ever becomes a legal issue.
Does a Canadian copyright protect me worldwide?
Yes, throughout most of the world, in those countries that are signatories of the Berne Copyright Convention or the Universal Copyright Convention, which are most nations.
Can an idea be copyrighted?
No, ideas are considered part of the public domain. If, however, you worked on developing a central character and the plot of a novel, you are considered a co-author of that work even if you did not actually write it.
Can news items or real-life events be protected under copyright?
No, they are similar to ideas in that no one has exclusive rights to them; they are part of the public domain. It is the presentation of those facts, however, that is covered by copyright.
If I work for a newspaper or magazine, who owns the copyright on my work?
Usually, if you are employed by a company, it automatically owns the copyright of everything that is published by it in the course of your work. The article cannot be reproduced or re-sold in any form without permission first being obtained. Often, newspapers generously allow articles, or portions of them, to be reprinted without charge.
Can a magazine editor steal the idea contained in my story proposal and assign it to someone else to write?
Yes, because ideas are in the public domain and cannot be protected by copyright law. For this reason, it is useless to write “copyright” on your proposal. But reputable magazines and publishing houses won’t take your idea. They stay in business because their editors are ethical.
What does “fair dealing” mean in regard to copyright?
The Copyright Act allows for quotes to be used without permission for purposes of criticism, review, and private, unpublished study or research. There are no limits stipulated on the number of words that can be used without permission; the courts are the only arbiter.
Should I copyright the book I have been contracted to write before sending it to the publisher?
No. All publishers will copyright your work for you, under either their name or yours, depending on the terms of the contract you have signed. They will also register it for you at the National Library in Ottawa as an original Canadian work.
Does copyright still apply when work is reproduced on the Internet?
Yes, although this can be very difficult to monitor. It is suggested that you put a copyright notice on all your work that appears on the Internet. If you use a quotation taken from a website, you will need permission if it is a significant part of the entire piece.
For specific information on copyright as it applies to periodical publishing, see Chapter 1.
Defamation is an untrue statement about a person that harms his or her reputation. A person’s reputation is deemed to be his or her property, which he or she has the right to protect. It is considered to have been harmed if as a result of a statement, that person is now hated, disrespected, or held in low esteem. If the defamation is spoken, it is slander; if it is written, it is libel. Someone who defames another may be sued in civil court.
Libel does not have to be malicious or intended in order to be proven. Negligence on behalf of the author is no defence. But if a damaging statement is proven to be true, whether the subject’s reputation was sullied or not, it is not libellous. In English Canada, only the living can sue for libel; in Quebec, an action can be brought by a descendant if the libel defamed him or her.
Writers should understand enough about Canadian libel law to protect both themselves and their publishers against court action. This is absolutely necessary since nearly all publishers’ contracts provide for indemnification for the publisher in cases where a person maligned in a manuscript resorts to a lawsuit.
Many writers hold the mistaken belief that the use of fictitious names, or a statement saying that any resemblance between the characters in the book and living persons is purely coincidental, will automatically protect them from the possibility of a libel suit. This assumption is wrong. If the average reader associates a character described in a manuscript with an actual person, and the description reflects unfavourably on that person’s reputation or integrity, there is always the danger of libel. The apparent intention to libel a person, even in fiction, could be interpreted by legal minds as a personal attack and could possibly lead to an action.
Fair and honest statements on matters of public interest, as long as they are true, are permitted. An author who comments on current affairs or writes a biography is allowed to express honest opinions or fair criticism of someone’s works or accomplishments because this is usually in the public interest and serves to promote a useful purpose. Fair comment extends to criticism of books, magazines, articles, plays, and films.
In a situation where a libel suit is possible, newspapers and magazines have a distinct advantage over book publishers due to their frequency of publishing. Sometimes a timely retraction is enough to avert a court case, or at least lower damages.
In Canada, the Income Tax Act is good to writers, allowing you to deduct legitimate work expenses from your taxable income. In return, you are trusted to show all your earnings, particularly fees that are unsupported by t4, t4a, or t5 slips from magazines and publishing houses that have printed your work.
Basically, writers come under three classifications:
• Salaried employees who supplement their incomes by earning a little extra money as occasional freelance writers.
• Part-time writers whose major income comes from another job that will almost certainly be cast aside the moment writing becomes more profitable.
• Totally self-employed, full-time writers not on any payroll who are expected to file honest returns mindful that no income taxes have been deducted at source.
Writers with other jobs need only attach to their income tax returns a statement summarizing writing income and expenses, and to show whether this extra work resulted in a profit or a loss. Any profit must be added to that taxable income earned from the other job. Losses, however, may be used to reduce it.
Writers living entirely from their craft must keep many more details: a list of all income and its sources, and receipts and vouchers to support expenses. Maintaining proper financial records not only serves as a reminder of cash that has flowed both in and out, but also helps to reduce problems that might be encountered should a tax return be audited.
Legitimate business expenses are allowable deductions from a freelance writer’s gross income. Letterhead, envelopes, manuscript paper, labels, file folders, and other office supplies, including pens, pencils, erasers, and paperclips, can be deducted. The price of photocopying, copyright costs, reference books, other research materials, subscriptions to magazines and newspapers, union dues, dues in writers’ organizations, bank charges (if you maintain a separate account for your writing business), the cost of secretarial help, and any payment for research assistance are also deductible. Business telephone, fax, and Internet costs can be written off, as can postage and courier expenses. If you take a course related to your writing or attend up to two professional conventions per year, they are also allowable deductions.
The purchase price of a computer, printer, and other expensive office equipment can not be deducted all in one year; rather, the Canada Revenue Agency (cra) stipulates at what rate each item can be written off. But related expenses, such as computer paper, manuals, ink cartridges, software, and equipment repairs are permitted deductions in the year they are purchased, as are the cost of other essential devices used in your work; for example, a tape recorder and tapes with which to record interviews.
An area of tax deduction often overlooked is the depreciation of office furniture and equipment. Both may be written off according to a fixed percentage determined by the income tax regulations. A computer may be depreciated by 30 to 45 per cent under the declining-balance method of depreciation. The same tax saving may be applied to printers, modems, fax machines, cameras, tape recorders, filing cabinets, desks, chairs, and telephone answering machines. It is permissible to defer depreciation deductions to a future year when the business will be more profitable.
Travel is also an allowable expense, whether it is to visit a publisher or to gather research for an article, be it by bus, subway, car, or plane. The non-fiction writer may have to interview people in a different town or find other resource information there; the cost of hotels, transportation, and generally 50 per cent of the price of meals and entertainment are deductible.
Keep track of how much time you use your vehicle for business and the distance you travel, for this is a legitimate write-off, as are payments for gas, oil, insurance, lease fees, interest on a car loan, maintenance, and repairs. cra also allows you to claim depreciation on your vehicle, if you own it.
If you are a freelance writer working in a commercial office space, you may claim its rent as an expense. If you work from an office in your home, you are permitted to write off a reasonable portion of your living space. A writer using one room as an office in a four-room apartment, for example, may claim one-quarter of the rent or mortgage interest, property taxes, home insurance, maintenance and repairs, and utilities. You can deduct 100 per cent of telephone expenses if it’s a separate business line.
For more complete information on income tax and the freelance writer, obtain a copy of the Business and Professional Income tax guide, a manual published by cra.
If you have your own business, you must also be aware of the Goods and Services Tax (gst), or Harmonized Sales Tax (hst) in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. When your taxable sales of goods or services exceed $30,000 per year, you must register to file gst/hst returns. An option for some businesses with total sales under $200,000 is to use the “quick method” of calculating the amount owing as a percentage of total sales, instead of tracking the actual gst/hst paid out and collected throughout the year. A guide is available at www.ccra-adrc.gc.ca or at local craTax Services offices.
Writing is an isolating occupation, so it is good for morale as well as immensely practical to tap into one or more of the many writers’ groups that exist in your community (a list of associations is provided in Chapter 10).
For professional writers with at least one published book behind them, valuable support is available from the Writers’ Union of Canada, which offers members an impressive array of resources, including assistance with contracts and dealing with grievances with publishers, a manuscript evaluation service, your own web page on their website, a quarterly newsletter, and a range of practical publications free of charge. The professional guides that may be ordered from the union by non-members for a small cost are Anthology Rates and Contracts, Income Tax Guide for Writers, Author and Editor, Author and Literary Agent, From Page to Screen, Writers’ Guide to Canadian Publishers, Incorporation for Writers, Glossary of Publishing Terms, Ghost Writing, New Technologies, and Writers’ Guide to Grants. At a higher cost, their Contracts Self-Help Package includes a model trade-book contract and Help Yourself to a Better Contract. Above all, the Writers’ Union of Canada gives its members the opportunity to share their concerns and experiences with fellow writers, providing a forum for collective action to support their interests.
Many of these services are also available to members of the Canadian Authors Association, which has branches across the country. Founded in Montreal in 1921, the caa has represented the interests of Canadian writers on many fronts, from championing improved copyright protection and the Public Lending Right to helping individual writers improve their contracts with publishers. The Public Lending Right provides published writers with income from books held in libraries by compensating them according to how often their books are borrowed. In 2006, 14,972 writers, translators, and illustrators received over $9 million.) The caa publishes The Canadian Writer’s Guide, a handbook for freelance writers; it administers several major literary awards (see Chapter 7); and local branches hold writing classes and workshops.
The Writers’ Trust of Canada is another national non-profit service organization mandated to advance and nurture Canadian writers and writing. Since 1976, working with an ever-changing pool of corporate partners, it has done just that in a number of practical and creative ways. It sponsors several major writing awards (see Chapter 7), supports the Woodcock Fund to provide bridge funding for established writers facing financial crises, and celebrates the importance of Canadian literature through the annual Politics and the Pen gala and the Great Literary Dinner.
Specialist writers’ organizations, too, offer resources and support to writers in their field. The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP), through its newsletter, regular meetings, and other organized activities, offers practical advice, moral support, and useful contacts to writers of children’s books. Members are listed on their website and in an annual directory. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre also provides writers and illustrators of children’s books with a range of resources and services. The centre has a comprehensive reference library of children’s books, and promotes children’s writers and titles through author tours, book readings, and their quarterly newsletter, CANSCAIP News.
For freelancers who write for magazines, newspapers, television, advertising agencies, and more, an excellent way to keep abreast of changes and developments in the industry is to join the Professional Writers Association of Canada. PWAC membership entitles you to a subscription to their informative newsletter, PWAContact, a comprehensive listing in their database; a copyright information kit; a mentoring program; and the opportunity to exchange market information and make important contacts with other writers. PWAC also sells a book called the PWAC Guide to Roughing It in the Market.
The English-speaking Canadian who has begun to sell with some consistency in this country should not ignore the colossal market in the United States.
The American annual Writer’s Market (see Chapter 11, Resources) contains 4,000 listings for book publishers, consumer magazines, trade journals, and literary agents in the United States. It also gives the names and addresses of editors, and sets out their requirements: what they expect from a manuscript in content and length, and how long it takes them to report back to a writer with a decision on whether or not they will publish.
Two U.S. monthly magazines are also indispensable to Canadian writers seeking new markets south of the border: Writer’s Digest (the publisher of the Writer’s Market), for practical-minded freelancers, and The Writer, for those with more literary tastes. These journals not only keep readers informed about markets and trends, but provide both a stimulus and a constant flow of fresh ideas. In addition, Writer’s Digest Books publishes an astonishing array of practical books for writers, from guides to writing genre fiction to manuals on magazine-article writing.
Remember that just as you have to research magazines or book publishers in Canada before you send out a query letter or manuscript, it is imperative that you study the American market as well. Nearly all publishers have their own special character and narrow, specific needs.
But the enormous selection of American publishers in no way diminishes the difficulty of breaking into their huge market. Ask yourself why a U.S. publisher would be interested in your story, unless it is on a theme that has broad appeal to both nations. If it is a specifically Canadian story, there must be a compelling reason why Americans should care. Some Canadian stories will, of course, have an obvious, natural tie-in with American events. A perceptive article on nafta from a Canadian perspective might attract the interest of a U.S. business magazine. As a Canadian writer, you will have to work hard to penetrate the American market, especially with ideas for their consumer magazines.
Most Canadians who have consistently sold their writing in the United States do so thanks to the opportunities provided by the vast collection of American trade publications. Canada is closely related to the United States through common trade channels and by having similar concerns about world politics and business. The moment American equipment and/or expertise is brought to bearon a Canadian building site, for example, there could legitimately be the makings of a story for an American trade or professional magazine. Sometimes there may also be a story in how Canada sees, or deals with, problems specific to both countries.
But there is yet another hurdle to beat. Many American trade magazines are staff-written. This means that a staff writer will travel to Canada to cover an American story rooted here, so a manuscript from a Canadian freelancer must be exceptionally strong to win a place. The odds can be beaten, though. After accepting a few manuscripts from a Canadian contributor, the editor of an American trade magazine might be willing to publish a monthly feature written by a Canadian on the Canadian viewpoint: what his or her country thinks about mutual problems and issues, and what solutions it can offer.
It is well worth trying to secure a foothold in the American market for purely economic reasons. After all, it is still extremely difficult for Canadians to make a satisfactory living by writing exclusively for magazines and publishing houses in their own country, which explains why most writers combine the crafting of poetry, novels, magazine articles, or non-fiction with other work. The situation may change, though. Writing opportunities for Canada’s writers have certainly increased since this book first appeared, and let’s hope the trend continues. As it does, The Canadian Writer’s Market will be there to guide and inform you with a richer list of resources than ever.
Joanna Karaplis works in the editorial department of a book publishing company in Toronto.
"It has been said that to be a freelance writer in Canada is a good way to starve to death slowly. The Canadian Writer's Market has long been an effective tool to help freelancers fend off such a nasty fate…. With such a concise resource, writers trying to sell (or place) just about any competent piece of work will likely find not only a toehold, but quite possibly a leg up to publication."
— Quill and Quire