Get Set
Eileen Astels

Eileen Astels resides in a quaint little village in Southern Ontario, Canada, where she dutifully studies the craft of fiction writing and aspires to become a published inspirational Christian romance author some day soon...please, Lord. You can learn more about Eileen at

In Pursuit of Publication

I’m a Canadian, and a writer with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Some might consider my nationality and degree two strikes against me right off the bat in the writing world (not to mention that I occasionally use clichés). But I prefer to view them as just a couple of blips along the road to publication. Through persistent studying, I know I can train the right side of my brain to be a writer, so I don’t worry much about the mathie in me; but as for the Canadian blip, there are some industry challenges worth noting.

Christian Canadian authors are no different from their American counterparts; we all wish to minister to and entertain as many people as possible through our written words. And since our fair country houses approximately a tenth of the population of our southern neighbor, it is no surprise that Canadian writers often seek representation and publication within the agencies and publishing houses of the United States. To accomplish this goal, however, we need to utilize a little ingenuity, pre-planning, persistence, and patience along the way.

Being a Canadian with all my north-of-the-boarder idiosyncrasies, eh, I discovered early on that a measure of refinement is required to globalize my manuscripts for the broader market’s appeal. I’m not suggesting that the American markets require Canadian authors to strip Canada from their manuscripts. Far from it, though I have heard that some Canadian authors have been asked to relocate their story to an American setting for specific reasons. Those cases aside, as an aspiring inspirational Christian romance writer, I read new releases every year (which are published through American publishers) in which the story location is very much in Canada. But these stories are “crafted” in such a way that they appeal to the broader market.

The majority of American published stories set in Canadian cities and towns, in my humble opinion, are written with sensitivity toward the American market and beyond. They don’t shout “Canadian” on every page, but instead save the Canadian aspects of the story for where it really matters.

For example, consider this scenario: Is it important that my Canadian hero playfully winds up a tea towel to swat at the heroine’s daughter in an after dinner match-of-wits scene, or should he wind up a dish towel, the American term for a drying cloth? I want to keep my readers locked into the story world I’ve painstakingly created, but I don’t want to jar them with this quirky Canadian intrusion.

Beyond the various cultural word choices that Canadian writers should be mindful of, we need also to contemplate the relevance of incorporating the different measurement systems, government

structures, health care plans, etc., that set us apart from the United States and abroad. If it is truly relevant to the story that we stick to the metric system or our country’s public health care insurance, for example, then by all means we should write them into our story in such a way that all our readers will comprehend; but if we can bridge the gap of misunderstanding by converting or generalizing for a more concise and entertaining delivery, then our direction should be clear.

“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9) comes to mind when I struggle to adapt my words to please the broader market, and then I know what I have to do. The Internet is a wonderful source for researching the cultural and demographic differences we need to consider when writing for the American houses. Connecting with a critique group consisting of multi-cultural members over the Internet is another beneficial way to use today’s technology. Fellow writers can help spot and correct those pesky foibles in an interactive and enriching way, and friendships are formed while helping one another. Many writers’ groups offer e-loops where you can find compatible critique partners. ACFW is one of several.

Most writers’ groups also provide writer’s conferences for aspiring authors to gather together to gain invaluable writing skills from professional authors and industry leaders. For the Canadian writer, though, attending the right conferences can be a big challenge. Canadian writer’s conferences are smaller than the ones south of the boarder, and fewer are available, so it is understandably difficult to attract many American publishing representatives to our homeland events. Thereby putting the onus on the Canadian writers to venture forth and save big for travel (and the fluctuating currency exchange) to the larger writer’s conferences hosted on American soil.

With growing competition in the publishing industry, a face-to-face meeting with a prospective agent or editor is a definite benefit to aspiring writers, and so we must meet the challenge of attending these conferences whenever possible. Working full time to earn a living while writing on the side leaves little time, not to mention the financial aspect, for such traveling; but if we are serious about succeeding in this industry, we will find a way to meet the agents and editors alike at conferences.

As a Canadian writer striving to break into the American publishing industry, not only do I need to write to the broader market, but also I need to seriously consider making the sacrifices required to attend the American writer’s conferences that attract agents and editors I want to meet. Getting published in the American market is not an easy pursuit, but I am patiently and persistently endeavoring to see it to fruition. I know that in God’s remarkable timing, I will reap the benefits of my labor. I pray you will, too.