1. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Crossing the pond

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Islander, Jan 17, 2011.

    If I write a story using British spelling, punctuation and grammar, and submit it to an American magazine/publisher, will they be put off by the (to them) non-standard usage, or even believe it is due to error?
     
  2. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Mama would be a better expert about it, but I highly doubt they would believe it is an error.

    The larger publishing firms print titles for both sides of the pond, so likely they're old hands at translating between the two forms of English.

    -Frank
     
  3. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The smaller firms might not be so well placed, though. Still, as long as they're aware that it's written in British English I'd expect them to make allowances. It might be that much harder for them to assess it, though, especially if you use a lot of dialect that a reader at a smaller publisher might not understand. I suspect most stuff that US publishers pick up in British English has probably already been successful in Britain.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't bother--more novels and magazine articles are published in the UK than in the US anyway, so why try and enter a market where you will certainly be at a disadvantage? British English is different from American, and it could seem 'off'. Just look at the comments we make to each other on the forum here! Try and make a name in your home country first.
     
  5. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any publisher worth their salt shouldn't be put off or think it's erroneous...

    But then, not all are worth their salt.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since your address on the query/work would be in the uk or a commonwealth country, there should be no confusion...

    however, if you're aiming at the us market, it would be best to follow american rules 'n regs... you can even select british spelling in setting up your ms word document, so the spell-checker would catch any slips...
     
  7. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    These days, with using the web, I'm used to finding some pages written one way and others written another. It's consistency that matters.
     
  8. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    Books are becoming universal. I don't think most readers see the difference in spelling, punctuation, etc, as a problem and I don't think publishers would.

    I have a friend (British) who has had several historical romances published in America and she has had no problem with standard English. Likewise, here we don't have any problems with books published in America.

    I think it's as Spacer says - readers, and therefore publishers, like consistency.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not the punctuation and spelling that is the main problem--there's spell check for that--it's the real difference in language use and style. I disagree with the idea that books are 'universal' in the sense that one size fits all--perhaps I'm twisting your words here, Evelon, sorry, no offence. For anyone who is sensitive to language it is very obvious what nationality the writer is and some styles are undeniably less attractive.

    Yes, it is perfectly possible to give your writing a 'slant' toward one country more than the other, and I've done this myself, but it's been a conscious and tiring effort. I think in the long run trying to ape the style of another country is a bad idea for a writer. It's too fake. People should find their own voice. If you say you can't see much difference now between US and British English, well, I'm not talking about Internet cliches and journalistic jargon, there are actually huge differences--you need to get out on the street.

    If you are an exceptional writer, or spin a good yarn, I suppose your submission should be acceptable with just a basic British/US spell check. IMO romance/fantasy or 'literary' writing seems to travel the best, I'm not so sure about humour or ironic/biting social comment...

    I've only read a few US writers who reproduce British dialogue or historical dialogue well, so I'd hazard a guess that we Brits aren't all that impressive either when we attempt realistic American dialogue!
     
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  10. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    I agree with you about the humour!
    I'm probably focused more on the grammatical rather than the style and I see your point although there are parts I don't agree with.

    Certainly some styles of writing are less attractive, but that has nothing to do with the nationality. It is all to do with the writer.

    I read many American authors and have no problem with their style. They are obviously American and depict an American way of life - and that's part of the story.
    In the same way there are many examples of British writing, particularly the classics, being accepted well in countries other than Britain and their style has certainly not been compromised.

    I don't think an author should try to 'ape the style of another country', what I mean by books becoming 'universal' is that we are becoming more interested in books from other cultures - The Kite Runner, Slumdog Millionaire, God of Small Things.

    I find the differences in style are what make the reading interesting. Even the differences in grammar and spelling don't, and shouldn't detract from the reading. It's part of life's tapestry that people are different. Books should reflect that.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Would like to point out the original poster maybe brilliant but he is neither English nor American so his work will not follow either set of nuances.

    Which is why his writing is fairly dialect free.
     
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