Is it a terrible idea to write a novel in English when it's not your first language?Do you live on Carkoon?
If your answer is just black and white "yes", then I don't want to know because my novel is finished (not necessarily including the final draft) and I am not a native English speaker.
In case you're wondering now why I haven't written in my first language:
1) my boyfriend is British and I couldn't imagine him not having a clue what I've been doing the last three and a half years.
2) The market for books in English is so much bigger.
I'm not just worried about me not matching the required level of language skills, but actually also about my story not being attractive to the American market because it's nothing to do with the US. The story happens in four European countries (Germany, Switzerland, England, France), but these places don't really matter for the plot.
So in fact, as I am writing this, my second question is about whether it's reasonable to try and find a literary agent in the US when my story takes place in Europe?
My query letter says in the fourth line "An unnamed Girl at primary school in northern Germany struggles..."
Is "northern Germany" an immediate prompt for a rejection?
I have changed my manuscript from British to American English. All "realise"s have become "realize"s, all "mum"s have become "mom"s and all "mumbling"s annoyingly turned into "mombling"s.
Should I just reverse it all to British English and try to find a literary agent in the UK only?
I live neither in the US nor in Europe.
Sending royalty payments via interplanetary mail is a pain, and that's the only reason I would care if someone lived somewhere other than here. Well, actually, I also care if you have access to the internet, cause so much of publishing is now conducted electronically I can't sign someone who lives off the grid.
So don't worry about where you live.
If you think books set outside the United States are an immediate rejection, let me introduce you to:
And that's just the first four I thought of in the six seconds it took me to type their names. You might say "well, those are all genre books" but there are lots of other books set in far off lands that do quite well.
So, don't worry about your setting.
The writing in English part is a little more problematic. I can usually tell when someone is a non-native speaker because they use interesting words, and often are just a little off-key. That's not always a bad thing. I love the novels of Aleksander Hemon for example, and he writes in his non-native English. If you haven't discovered his work, hie thee to a book store at once.
But your concern is well-founded. English is a weird language and it likes to trip up natives and non-natives alike.
You'd do well to find a beta reader to make sure you haven't misused idioms, or confused liar with lyre, or worse, lair!
There are a number of people writing in English who weren't born to it. I'd say judging from the writing in this question you're going to do just fine.
So don't worry about that either.
(For things to worry about, consult yesterday's blog post!)