Where should a dark sci-fi, horror novelist start his writing career? Canada or the US?
Returning to my investigation on identifying the best market to launch a writing career, I contacted numerous literary agents, publishers, editors, book promoters and writers over Twitter and email and asked them: ‘Where do you think post-apocalyptic sci-fi, horror is more popular: Canada or US?’
Nearly everyone I contacted responded and the consensus was unanimous: America. Even though Atwood responded that there is a market in Canada when I tweeted her directly, the majority believe that a writer of this specific genre will find more success south of the border. Sandra Kasturi, who is a writer, an editor and co-publisher at ChiZine Publications – a Toronto-based firm that publishes dark fiction and fantasy, offered this comment:
We publish Canadian, American and international writers, and we have global distribution. I’d say however that the U.S. market is probably our biggest market. Traditionally even Canadians have done better there than in Canada. It might be easier to launch in Canada simply because the population is smaller, therefore the percentage of Canadian authors is smaller: less competition? Not sure. But I think you’ll never have a huge career unless you sell books in the U.S. That’s just the biggest market, hands down. (Kasturi – date: May 6, 2014).
So the picture is clearer now. Chances of an amateur author breaking into the industry are higher in the United States.
I wrapped up my research by quickly visiting Amazon.com and perusing their Top 100 Editors’ Picks of 2013. Out of the list, at least 11 of them are categorized as sci-fi, horror or fantasy; one of which is a post-apocalyptic drama belonging to Atwood (MaddAddam at 65) and two of which are from Stephen King (Joyland at 26 and Doctor Sleep at 66). When looking at the list of book genres in the left side of the screen, ‘Science Fiction and Fantasy’ is listed with over 297,000 items. At Amazon.ca, under the ‘Canadian Books’ category, there are only 139 items under sci-fi and only 200 books under fantasy. Clearly, there’s no competition. These genres are circulated more widely south of the border than they are north of it.
It’s safe to say that there is a market for dark, post-apocalyptic SF/H/F in both the Canadian and the US publication industries; one just happens to be exponentially bigger than the other. I don’t think there are any parameters to Canadian literature that might limit the list of agents and publishers I can pitch to. The list is just far shorter in Canada. Though the market for this particular genre is growing in Canada with more local writers publishing globally and more local publishers accepting international authors, a long-term writing career with a much larger readership is faster gained in America. In any case, I plan to finish The Nest and carefully pitch it to both markets; there’s just more agents and publishers to pitch to in the US.
Your humble writer,