I had originally written this post for a site called EpicFantasy.org. However, since the post went live back on April 25, 2016, the site has gone down. As such, I’ve decided to include the post here on my personal blog instead. So here goes:
Kiwi in US Writing Market
New Zealand… Aotearoa, as the native Maori call it — the land of the long white cloud. It’s a country filled with majestic beauty: a mountain range that spans the length of half the country; volcanic lakes and desert terrain; beaches within a few short minutes drive of any major metropolis; secluded forest bush that takes you back in time; and farmland everywhere you turn. Many settlements could be frozen in time, and with the exception of the cars driving down the street, you would never know that you were in the 21st century. New Zealand has become the film industry’s location of choice with many historic and fantasy blockbusters filmed here, including The Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, and the epic drama The Last Samurai. (Sorry to burst the bubble, people, but the images of Mount Fuji in that film were actually of Mount Taranaki, also known as Mount Egmont.)
With so much beauty and diverse scenery in such close proximity, it’s no surprise to find that many writers who live in New Zealand draw so much inspiration for our story settings from our environment. But when it comes to publication, many New Zealand writers I know wish they were in the US or the UK. Publishing within New Zealand for genre fiction is practically nonexistent.
The publishing industry within New Zealand is extremely limited, with most publishers focusing on non-fiction and educational materials. The few that do publish fiction focus on children’s books or literary stories that focus on New Zealand culture. These are niche market books and are unlikely to survive on the world-wide market. But for those of us who write genre fiction, overseas markets are really the only option.
With the exception of Australia, New Zealand is so far removed from the rest of the world. It takes nearly a full day to travel to anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, especially if you include all the layover times. It cost thousands of dollars for the airfare. Traveling to one of the coveted writing conferences is not something that I can feasibly afford. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to go, but I can’t.
This is where technology has become my best friend.
In the past, writers from New Zealand would have been forced to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on postage, sending manuscript after manuscript to agents and publishers. With the introduction of the internet, submission to an agent in New York City is now just the click of a mouse.
For those targeting the self-publication road, selling books in Alaska is just as easy as selling books to our neighbor down the street. Print-on-demand services and eBooks have revolutionized the industry. Social media has changed the methods in which one must market our books. And all these changes have opened the doors to those of us on the other side of the world.
For me, being in New Zealand has proven to be an advantage. I’m a professional editor, occasionally offering mentoring to my clients. For me, a standard work day is from 9am to 3pm while my two teenagers are at school. Because of timezone difference, it means that it’s morning where I am when my clients are enjoying the afternoon and early evening. For those that work until the wee hours in the morning, they’re likely to still catch me during the standard New Zealand work day. (I just have to remember that I’m a day ahead.)
Social media has become my best friend. Through my actions on Twitter and Facebook, I have made contacts with many amazing writers from around the globe. I have been invited to guest blog (this post being only one of them). And I have managed to build a support network that I will cherish for years to come. Will all my hard work in trying to break into the US publishing industry actually pay off? Only time can tell.
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2016