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Coop720
09-02-2012, 08:40 PM
Hi, I'm not sure if this has been asked before, but I was wondering what's the deal if an American agent wants to represent a British client?

Does the text have to be reformatted for American publishing or would an American firm ever publish something that is British standard?

Old Hack
09-02-2012, 09:12 PM
The differences between American and British publishing conventions go far beyond formatting. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are different.

If I were submitting to an American agent I'd edit my writing to meet American conventions.

Have you attempted to find a UK-based agent, or do you have other reasons to consider American representation?

Coop720
09-02-2012, 09:29 PM
Thanks for the reply. Yeah, that's all the detail-y stuff I meant haha!

And no reason, I was just wondering as in Britain, when I buy American books, a lot of them are American standard, sometimes when they are published by British firms, but I don't know whether that is to do with exclusivity or artistic licence.

Old Hack
09-02-2012, 11:18 PM
If a book is first published in America, it'll be edited in America. When a UK edition is duly published often the American text will remain unchanged.

It's nothing to do with exclusivity or artistic license and all to do with finances. It costs a lot to re-edit a book and it's not always done.

Terie
09-03-2012, 01:06 AM
If I were submitting to an American agent I'd edit my writing to meet American conventions.

As an American living in the UK and writing (both as a tech writer for my day job and narrative nonfiction/fiction by night) for both sides of the pond, I would respectfully disagree with this, unless you happen to be fluent in American. If you aren't and you try to write like an American, you'll make lots of mistakes -- which is counterproductive.

Both my editor and former agent in the US have said using British standards is fine; if the publisher that contracts the work wants to change the stuff to American, they will.

EMaree
09-03-2012, 01:21 AM
I'm a UK writer with a story on submission that's based partially in the UK (and partiality in a fantasy setting). I'm currently sticking mostly with submissions to UK agents, but for US submissions I don't do any major changes (other than using a query letter instead of a covering letter, but that's a whole other kettle of fish).

I'll change a few things that might confuse US readers -- for instance, I mention 'paracetamol' early on which isn't used in the US -- but I leave the UK slang and setting untouched. American beta readers are amazingly helpful.

Old Hack
09-03-2012, 01:22 AM
Good point, Terie. I used to edit US and UK co-editions, and have some skills here: I shouldn't have assumed that everyone has had my training or experience.

Chiquita Banana
09-03-2012, 03:33 AM
I used to live in the UK (am American) and because the story I was trying to sell took place in the US with US characters, I kept everything American except the punctuation - single quote marks, etc. I got a few additional chapter requests and none of the agents ever had a problem with it. Sadly it never got picked up. Well, not yet, anyway.

Then I wrote a romance that took place in London (American gal, British fella) and in the interest of authenticity (or OCD) I wrote all of her parts in American spelling and all of his in British. Used British punctuation marks for that one too.

Man, it was a major pain to change all of his parts to American spellings when I ended up selling it to an American publisher.

Not quite sure what my point was... ah! Okay. I agree, you should keep it British. If they're interested, they'll ask you to change it later (don't think I've ever seen British standards in a book in a store here).

EMaree: are you sure about "paracetamol"? I'm pretty sure it's used here in the US... maybe not though. Might just have heard it a lot because my sister's a doc.

And one last thing: Coop720, why on earth are you submitting yourself to query letter hell? I LOVED subbing in the UK because I didn't have to worry about those obnoxious things. Wish I'd been able to snag an agent when I lived there... :)

Terie
09-03-2012, 09:34 AM
...for instance, I mention 'paracetamol' early on which isn't used in the US....


EMaree: are you sure about "paracetamol"? I'm pretty sure it's used here in the US... maybe not though. Might just have heard it a lot because my sister's a doc.

Paracetomal is used extensively in the US, it's just pretty much always called by a particular brand name: Tylenol. :)

EMaree
09-03-2012, 12:22 PM
Yeah, Terie got it spot on. :) The 'paracetamol' name is pretty much a brand in the UK, but the majority of my US beta readers are only familiar with it under the Tylenol name.

Terie
09-03-2012, 01:18 PM
And of course, this goes to the core of my original point: if you don't speak fluent American, don't try. :D

I've lived in the UK for over 12 years now, and I'm still not convinced I could write completely realistic dialogue without having a native go over it for me. So many little things are so different! Luckily, I write fantasy and don't need to worry about it, and I was co-author (technically, co-ghostwriter) on the nonfiction book published in the UK, so there was someone else checking things. Naturally, my technical publications don't have dialogue, jargon, or slang....LOL!

Chiquita Banana
09-04-2012, 12:17 AM
Paracetomal is used extensively in the US, it's just pretty much always called by a particular brand name: Tylenol. :)

LOL. I know that. I meant I was pretty sure a fair amount of people were aware of the term, paracetamol and what it was. Could be wrong though. :)

Terie
09-04-2012, 12:24 AM
LOL. I know that. I meant I was pretty sure a fair amount of people were aware of the term, paracetamol and what it was. Could be wrong though. :)

Not when I left, not where I'm from. I didn't know for quite a few years after moving here that Tylenol is paracetomal. I kind of wondered what this 'paracetomal' everyone talked about was, but not enough to bother looking it up. :D It wasn't until my dad came for a visit and forgot his Tylenol that we went into a chemist's to ask.

Of course, things might've changed and people in the US might use 'paracetomal' (the term....lol) more now than they did when I lived there, and it might be used more in some regions than in others.

alexaherself
09-11-2012, 03:04 AM
"Tylenol" is a US tradename for acetaminophen. It's not at all the same thing as paracetamol.

KalenO
09-11-2012, 03:57 AM
I think it depends on the agent and their personal preferences too. For instance, at Greenhouse Literary Agency, American queries are automatically directed to Sarah Davies who works on the US side of things while any European queries are automatically directed to Julia Churchill in the UK. Then I know of a couple US agents who have British clients who have definite 'British-isms' in their work, which is set in the UK, but which those agents sold to US publishers before selling them in 'foreign' territories, including the writer's home territory of the UK.

LadyA
02-25-2013, 06:38 PM
I know of a couple US agents who have British clients who have definite 'British-isms' in their work, which is set in the UK, but which those agents sold to US publishers before selling them in 'foreign' territories, including the writer's home territory of the UK.

This makes me happy :)

Do you remember which agents these were? Do they represent YA?

Thanks!

Araenvo
03-06-2013, 09:40 PM
I'm British with a U.S. agent. And for extra kicks, I live in American, and she lives in Britain. Hooray, diversity!

It's actually one of the reasons I queried her.

I never bothered changing the text for agent submissions, since it could go wrong, but when the ms, went out to publishers, there were two versions - one British English and punctuation, and one U.S.

onesecondglance
03-06-2013, 10:16 PM
"Tylenol" is a US tradename for acetaminophen. It's not at all the same thing as paracetamol.

Paracetamol is acetaminophen. Isn't it?

Araenvo
03-06-2013, 10:24 PM
Paracetamol is acetaminophen. Isn't it?

Yup