Submitting to agents in foreign countries


Active Member
Sep 19, 2013
I am wondering if someone who lives in one country can send their work to agents in some different country? For example, can someone who lives in China send their work to an agent in America or some other country? Would it bias the agent to know that the person is from a different country? Does it matter in any way?
It's not unusual for someone to seek representation in a different country - not uncommon at all between UK and US writers and agents.

It's simply a case of whether the manuscript works.

I would imagine that problems primarily arise where someone directly submits a manuscript to a market that is not the writer's first language, and that it would be more appropriate to seek an agent in the same first language group, and allow translation rights to carry into other language markets.

Thanks for replying.

Do you know any such case?

I know of two Chronners both UK based who are repped by US/Canadian ( I think) agents. My own agent is based in the UK for a US agency and reps people from Uk and US ( and others, I think.) it happens all the time, but!

Us agents look for a different style of query letter, by and large.
Glad to know that! I thought agents would prefer works from their own country. But since you know instances that imply otherwise, I guess you are right.:)
It would be helpful if the agent had expence working with authors from a foreign country. This is particularly important when it comes to paying tax.

Because my experience is wholly in non fiction, most of it is irrelevant to the SFF publishing world. However, whatever you write the tax offices of both countries are going to want a slice of your earnings. But for most western countries there are reciprocal tax agreements so you only pay tax in the country where you live. Because I have no agent (a common situation in nonfic) I had to sort out tax forms myself. It takes weeks.

Since you are in the UK you can join the Society of Authors as as an associate member soon as you get a firm contract from a publisher. Although it costs 90 quid to join you can get immediate free legal advice on your contract (only general advice if the contract is from a non UK publisher - but still woth the money), and they also have advice about declarations to avoid paying income tax twice. It's a great deal!

Clive Catterall
I'm in Sussex. My agent is in Colorado. I'm not even anything like unusual in that (because there's so few SFF agents in the UK, and quote a lot in the US) So yes, it's fine.

However a caveat or two -- as already mentioned, the query process is different in say the States (Check out Queryshark for some excellent advice/examples)

Also a US agent is likely to have US contacts (not always, but you know, in general) so they'd be more likely to take on something that they think appeals to the markets they know -- America. Ofc, sometimes with the bigger pubs/agents that isn't such an issue, but it is something to be aware of.
The only issue is whether the work you are submitting is suitable for the market the agent sells into.
If you share a language, this is not unusual at all. Austrians publish in Germany, English authors in the USA and so on.
But when it comes to foreign languages, it becomes tricky. I don´t think an US-agency has anyone among the staff who speaks Chinese (in general, there may be rare exceptions) and arranging something just to check out if the manuscript is good is too complicated. They will probably do if they come across a bestselling author ...
Stil, I sometimes come across authors who cannot even sell their manuscript on their own market, but want to give it a try to sell the option for a translation. (?!?)

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