Friday, September 05, 2014

UK/US editors

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is being released in 30 countries and I'm reading it in large part because I think there's lots a writer can learn from a book that sold so well. In her acknowledgements, she thanks both her UK and her US editors (both belonging to different publishing houses). I know it's being translated in some countries, but the multiple English-speaking editors surprised me.

Do multinational releases have editors in different countries that result in slightly (or not so slightly) different versions of the book being released?

Maybe.  It depends on how the book is initially sold.  For example, if an agent sells only North American rights to the US publisher, the UK rights can be sold to a UK publisher, and the editor there is not working in concert with the American publisher.

If an agent sells World English, generally the editor who buys those rights  here will make a deal with a UK publisher and they will decide how closely the UK edition will match the US edition.  Often there is tweaking but only for what we fondly call "britspeak"--garden means yard, bonnet means hood, lorry means truck, and do NOT ask what a fanny pack means in the UK.

How much Britspeak is understood here is always a subject of debate, most recently in the Bouchercon anthology where two of the contributors are from the UK. We decided in this case to let most of the UKisms stand because crime readers are used to it. 


AJ Blythe said...

"We decided in this case to let most of the UKisms stand because crime readers are used to it."

Interesting. I've wondered whether my Aussie-isms (many of which are British in origin) would be a problem, but maybe I can let some stay. Of course, there are probably many I don't even know I am using!

And I have to second QOTKU and recommend you don't use fanny in Australia - for the same reason I believe I shouldn't use pussy (aka kitty) in America.

MNye said...

I thought rights were rights and the only real decision was how long you have to give them up for. I will be reading up on this subject today. Again so very much to consider.
Someone just informed me how many editors your tome will encounter, i thought it would only be one, but nope...and then there's something called ' blue pages'? It's a lot to learn, this craft part of writing.

Adib Khorram said...

Yes indeed: Cats are kitties here in the States.

And all this rights mumbo-jumbo is why you make sure you find an agent you trust who will help you slog through all the confusion. Why worry about rights when you can worry about writing instead?

I'm not sure that sentence actually made sense, but I'm afraid that if I go back and try to figure it out, I may start bleeding from my ears.

NotaWarriorPrincess said...

Another Americanism NOT to use in the UK: "spunky."

Does NOT mean "feisty." At ALL.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

And along those lines, not to mention my innocent use of the word "doorknob" in front of mixed gender flatmates!

Janet Reid said...

I had to look that one up Lisa. Zounds!

Unknown said...

As I live in Australia (meaning UK English) I had a chuckle when I read this:

" means yard, bonnet means hood, lorry means truck, and do NOT ask what a fanny pack means in the UK..."

Aside from Lorry (we mostly say truck but lorry is also used), same rules apply.

And Anita sometimes our Aussie-usms are an issue.
For example we say Uni and it never occurred to me the in the US some people might not know what UNI means. I once wrote a war&peace epic of an email to a US friend (it was a super rant) on the education system blah, blah, but I used the word EDUCATION I think 1-2 times, only referring to Uni's.

I got a reply back, this was the entire reply:
"Errh, sorry but I don't understand? What's a UNI?"

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Read all you can, books far and wide; you pick up...regionalisms? Colloquial terms?

It's one reason I like reading old books as well (not even "Dickens old", necessarily, but "Happy Hollisters old" does quite nicely), because you can get a sense of the old status quo, of where a genre has come from often as related to the culture in which the story is based.

Janet Reid said...

Jennifer, one of the many reasons I loved UK editions of Agatha Christie novels was getting that sense of the daily language.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I just knew I should've read Agatha Christie before now...