1. tomwritstuff
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    tomwritstuff Member

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    American English or British English?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by tomwritstuff, Nov 23, 2012.

    I'm on the cusp of being published and I've come to a crossroads. Do I aim my story towards the American Market and edit my spelling to American English? Or being British, do I aim it towards the smaller UK market and keep the British English spelling? :confused:

    :confused:What are your thoughts people?:confused:
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is a decision to make when you begin writing, not at the last minute.

    There are differences other than spelling. Write the market you know, which is probably the UK market, given your location.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Write it to the market you are intending to publish it to.

    Since I'll, in the future, possibly be giving my manuscript to American publishers, my language will be American English. If I were you, I'd stick with British/UK English and don't worry about the American English.
     
  4. tomwritstuff
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    tomwritstuff Member

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    I wrote it in British English with the intent on having it published in the UK. I have since decided to self-publish and after much surfing of the Internet, the company I finally chose was American.
     
  5. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    I think you could get into a lot of trouble if you try to write in a language that is not your mother tongue! Can you really spell colour without a U?

    I think if you are self publishing, it doesn't really matter who the company is - whether the book sells will be up to the effort you put in (and if it is any good). Americans read English books and we read a lot of American books and on the whole we understand each other, so I say stick to what you have already written.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you're self-publishing, marketing, sales, distribution, etc. is all your problem anyway. You have to become an expert in all aspects of publishing, so you have a long way to go.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I was wondering about the "American company" chosen if this is being self-published.

    And if you really intend to 'translate' your UK English to American, find an American (or several) to do it with you. Unless you've lived in several areas of the US for some time, there's no way you're going to be familiar enough with the differences to catch them all. I'd advise you to leave it in UK English.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all of the above advice...

    also, there's a lot more to writing for each market than spelling... where is your story set, in the uk or the us?... are your characters british, or american?... dialog will be different for each, as will actions/characters' character, etc....
     
  9. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    What are the differences in dialogues between American and British? I read both and haven't noticed any difference in the dialogue styles.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Traditional UK English uses single quotes around the quoted text. In recent years, UK publishers have begun to move toward the US standard of double quotes, but you have to know which your publisher prefers.

    There are other finer points of punctuation that differ, but I couldn't list them off the top of my head; to be frank, I suspect some of those rules are arbitrary and depend on who you ask.
     
  11. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    I think it's the other way around. Traditionally we used double quotes around dialogue, only relatively recently using single quotes.

    The first story I had published in a national magazine - 1983 - used double quotes. So did early 20th century novels. A current British printed novel uses single quotes.

    It makes sense that we all now use the same system since the market is multi-national.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i was referring more to the manner of speech, idioms and so on, plus the differences between britishers and americans in general, as well as setting believability... punctuation can be changed easily enough, but having a supposedly american character sounding and acting like a brit, or vice versa, won't fly...
     
  13. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly - and nothing is more irritating than finding the "occasional slip" (due to editors being human).
     
  14. tomwritstuff
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    tomwritstuff Member

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    I was merely concerned about spelling, colour or color / neighbour or neighbor etc etc.
    If its being published and available in the US first before the UK, then surely it would be sensible for it to have American English spelling? Wont take too long to spell check and amend my work!
    My current story is a vampire story based in Europe, not the USA. Following a timeline in chapter 1 of present day but with flashbacks from hundreds of years ago throughout the rest of it.
    I don't have any character saying, Howdy, Dude, Wassup, Hi or Hello with a stiff upper lip! I have tried to use Vampire speak and terminology! That shouldn't matter where the main character is from, should it?
    It is traditional of centuries ago, set modern day in and around a Church building turned Public House/Tavern. Not a Saloon, Bar or Club!
    I'm working on sequel/prequel plot-lines and if the current manuscript works well or better written in American English or British English then I'll know where to take the others in the saga.
    I'll be speaking with the publishing team this coming week and hopefully they'll be able to help. Surely they know what will sell better, I hope!
     
  15. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    Write it for the public you are aiming for.
     
  16. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Like the others I think the most important questions are:

    What variant are you most familiar with? Changing to another version of it is likely to leave you making mistakes.

    Who's your intended audience? Spelling etc in the Queen's English is likely to be a turn off for many American readers and vice versa.

    And where is it set? Using American English when your character is English and living in London, is likey to seem out of place.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  17. Timewalker
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    Timewalker Member

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    Write in British, give to publisher and get accepted, get two editions of the book: a British and an American.

    So if you write pavement, the American edition will have sidewalk.
    Smaller British? Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple but less know about Elijah Baley and R. Daneel.
     
  18. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Actually that was what I was wondering also in my question but I see that others have taken it the wrong way as many do on the forum.

    *britisher? That's an interesting word. Is it in the dictionary - I'll have to look it up.

    Britisher [ˈbrɪtɪʃə]
    n (not used by the British) * Thats why I've never heard of it before.
    1. a native or inhabitant of Great Britain
    2. any British subject
     
  19. tomwritstuff
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    tomwritstuff Member

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    I agree with you there cazann34! People do take it the wrong way!

    My Story is primarily set in modern day Europe it has Western European and American influences but is SET IN EUROPE! With only brief references to it being located globally elsewhere throughout its Timeline.

    I don't specifically name a town, city, state or country for its present day location. I've left that up to the reader to decide exactly where they'd envisage it to be! Another element to its mystery!

    I aim to specifically mention its location in the sequel that I've started.

    As I've stated before, I'm self-publishing and the company I'm using is American. So it'll be available and promoted there first, before it reaches the rest of the world.

    So my intended audience are Vampire story loving readers. Maths at school wasn't my strong point but as the US is significantly larger than the UK, surely my intended audience would America?

    I bet Anne Rice never had this problem? :rolleyes:

    I asked by brother the exact same question today, british or american spelling? Without a critique on the matter, his reply in ONE word 'British'.

    I was only interested in peoples thoughts on the difference to certain spelling before I submit my manuscript to the publishing team, not a critique!!!!!!

    Thanks everyone, there are a few good comments here that I'll take onboard over the next 24hrs when I make my decision.
     
  20. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I agree with your brother. Sure the US is bigger but if your British it makes sense for you to write in the British style/spelling/punctuation because writing is hard enough without giving yourself more work by attempting to write in a way that is contrary to your learning, and may even feel awkward or alien to you. If your work is mind-blowingly brilliant and an American publisher wants the rights to publish it I'm sure they're 'translate' it for you.
     
  21. tomwritstuff
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    tomwritstuff Member

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    The translation of british or american is entirely in my hands and whatever I decide, they'll have to settle with it produced in whichever I choose. All I have to do is state which I'd like, in the Agreement form.
     
  22. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    Isn't this all being over-thought? There are gazillions of Americal written/published books on the market, which is now an international market. I've read many American authors and had no trouble with either spelling or grammar. I would hope that an American reader reading an UK written/published book would also find few, if any problems. The basic language is the same and the few words that may differ are pretty well known all over the globe. The differences in spelling are accepted - even if we think we've got it right - and don't spoil the enjoyment of a book.

    There are more difficulties to be overcome when endeavouring to produce a publishable book.
     
  23. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    Write it with British spelling. Maybe this is just a strange quirk of mine, but even though I'm American, I prefer British spelling. (I actually changed my cell phone language to British English so the spell check would force me to spell the British way.) I don't know a lot about this, but it was always my impression that the publishers would change it between British/American when they want to sell the book in a different country (for example, Harry Potter).
     
  24. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    Like other here I'd say write it in the language you're most comfortable with, but be aware that cultural characteristics of people of any country need to be understood separately from the language being written.

    However, I'd like to reference Neal Stephenson's text language from his Baroque trilogy (Quicksilver, etc) as an example of where the use of American spellings in amongst a narrative and dialogue style that felt very 17th Century British felt wrong. To me, I feel he should have used the British spellings of words like 'honour', 'colour', etc, so that the feel was of a British language from before the American spellings were introduced. However, I wouldn't be surprised if his publisher had required him to use the American spellings.
     
  25. tomwritstuff
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    tomwritstuff Member

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    I've bitten the bullet

    After much thought on the matter, I'm sticking with British English. I realised I was making more of an issue than it probably warranted.

    Even though I have some potentially American sounding character names, they are not American. Its not uncommon to have an American originating name and be born in another country these days. I personally know a Harley, Junior and even a Calvin, lol!

    A lot of my characters, I've taken the names of some of my favourite music bands of the 90's/00's and jumbled them up. I was going through a bit of a phase! :redface: I don't have a Daniel S Charlie or a Bolt Michaelton, maybe I should for the next one?

    One of my main characters is of Native American descent but was plucked into my tale, long before the Mayflower and the Pilgrims ever landed.

    Its full of many influences from times and places, I just hope I've not overcooked it and spoilt the taste of my message.

    Thanks everyone for your help, sorry if I've unconsciously begun the start of WWIII. :D
     

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