Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why a German writer would look for a US agent

Some people have asked me why I’m looking for an agent in the US. I’m German and live in the South of Germany, so the question is valid. Nevertheless, it was never really a question to me.

First of all, I write in English. My dad’s from London, and I grew up speaking both English and German, often in the same sentence. So I’m fluent in English, which I personally find a much nicer language in terms of flow and pronunciation than German. What I’ve also noticed is that where there is one German word for a specific meaning, there are often three or more in English.
Plus, most books I read are in English, simply because I prefer reading stories in their original language, and I read a lot more novels by English-writing authors. So, writing in English comes naturally to me, at least more so than German.

I suppose I could try selling my English stories to German publishers. I’m sure it’s been done, though I have no definite example, and I must admit that I haven’t really looked into it. I have a feeling it will be easier and more rewarding to find one in the US. Of course, it’s nice to always have that option in the back of my mind. And if I were to write a German book someday, I’d try to find a German publisher for it.

There’s a second reason I’m looking for a US agent, though: I write mostly urban fantasy, which at the moment has its biggest market in the US. In Germany, the urban fantasy hype began with the dawn of the Twilight movies, and in most cases only authors who are established in the US have published their urban fantasies on the German market. A market which is even more narrowed down by the fact that German urban fantasy readers seem to specialize on vampires – a fairly trite subject, in my opinion, and I prefer writing about other magical creatures that haven’t had all the mystery sucked out of them yet.

What I don’t have much knowledge on is the chance of a German writer actually finding a US publisher. There’s no law against it that I’m aware of, but I could imagine that it brings a lot of red tape with it, which might discourage agents and/or publishers from going for a newbie author. Definitely something to do more research on.

A possibility I can’t really take advantage of is going to US cons or events, where writers may get in touch with agents and/or publishers in person. For a student, who can barely pay her monthly rent, that possibility is just not in the budget. I’ll be keeping an eye out for German ones, though, even if I’m not seriously looking for a German publisher just yet. You never know who you might meet.

All in all, I know that I have many possibilities, but right now, finding a US agent is the one I’m going to pursue. If all else fails, there’s always the self-publishing option, although that’s a whole other can of worms, to be opened in another blog post.

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