British Vs. American

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

DEATH SCENE has been out only a couple of weeks, and I will have no idea, until July’s royalty statement arrives, how many copies it sold in its first month of release. I know I’ve had a few sales, because the colleagues and family members who have bought it have started to report back.

One of the most consistent comments I’ve had so far from my British readers is that all the American spellings are annoying. It is true that Brits get annoyed by ‘Americanisms’ (as this article on the BBC site today demonstrates!). But my publishers are American, so house style dictates American spellings. It does, however, demonstrate that although the UK and the US both officially speak English, anyone who’s experienced both knows that American English and British English are, in fact, two entirely separate languages.

DEATH SCENE racked up 31 rejections before being accepted by Lyrical Press. I sent it to agents in America and the UK, and to small press publishers that accepted unsolicted manuscripts on both sides of the Atlantic. Many of the rejections were generic, but some of them had personalised notes. The most common reason from UK agents for turning it down was that contemporary amateur sleuths do not sell in the UK.

Many UK publishers seem to feel that the British reading public want gritty crime thrillers or historical ‘whodunnits’ featuring amateur sleuths. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant – publishers will buy what they think will sell.

It has dawned on me, however, that Shara might fare better in America than in Britain. Amateur sleuths remain fairly popular there. Whereas the only amateur sleuths in books written by British writers I can think of are all set somewhere in the past.

And there is the added bonus that Shara, as a Canadian living in Britain, offers her perspective on the differences between North America and the UK. Hopefully people who don’t live in Britain will connect with that.

At this early stage, I still have no idea how DEATH SCENE will do. But if Shara does prove to be more popular with Americans than Brits, I will see that as a blessing in disguise. It might give hubby and I an excuse to plan that road trip across the States we’ve always talked about doing.

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