Archive for June 15, 2011

I keep asking myself this question and seem to be something of a lone wolf when I approach the subject on writers’ forums and hardly ever win the debate. When I first published my eBooks through Amazon Kindle, I thought it would be easy to publish both my American edited versions and UK and Commonwealth edited versions. Everything went smoothly when I started to fill in the details to upload my manuscripts to kindle. The process was quite simple. That is until I came to the question of language choice. ‘English,’ it said. I scrolled down to look for the different versions, but there were none.

It struck me as odd. How is the reader to know? Okay, you could say that the reader has the opportunity to sample first and that would be true, but many don’t. Of the ones that do sample, I just wonder how many decide not to buy because the read jars when not in their native English. After much head scratching, I decided to upload the American version to .com and the UK English version to … problem solved. Well that’s what I thought, but then I thought, what of the countries such as Canada and the other countries that can only buy from .com and use English spellings. Then what about expats?

When I contacted Amazon customer services, they sent me a nice email back, basically the only way round the problem was to maybe upload both version with world rights and to say put the Stars and Stripes on the front cover of one and the Union Jack on the other. Ughh.

The usual answer I receive from American authors when I bring up the subject seems to be. “There are 300 million potential customers in America and the UK market is small. Why should I care about the rest?” The answer from UK English authors seems to be “English is English, they’ll understand.” It’s no wonder to me that some American authors claim their sales are poor in the UK and vice versa with the British authors; although I admit there are exceptions. My answer to the authors who have a different opinion to me, I would ask them to trawl the Amazon readers’ forums and look at the debates where the posts mention poor spelling. Alternatively, maybe to read some of the one star reviews, where some readers assume that spellings are in error when they are in fact correct for the authors native English. Don’t think this situation just exists with just self-published authors; it is the same for traditionally published eBooks.

What am I doing about it, you may ask. In my own case, I have made a start by splitting my short stories into individual eBooks and including both versions with links for the reader to make the choice of language. I have already up loaded these to Smashwords for distribution to B&N Kobo and Apple, also to de, in Germany. This week I should have a German translation completed for The End, or a New Dawn, one of my short stories and I will upload it to Amazon with the German translation and the two English versions in one eBook, with links for the customer to make the choice. It isn’t going to happen overnight, but I intend to do this with all my short stories on all eBook platforms. As for my full-length books, I will be re formatting them to include both English versions.

For a more in-depth article and links for American v UK English words and an example of quotation mark differences, follow the link below

Translation page.

Declan Conner: Smashwords profile and books page.