Writing process

Writing for the US market

In the first instance, we try to sell our novels to the American market.

Why would we do this when the Australian market for fantasy is so good at the moment?

The Australian market is extremely difficult to break into. I’m not saying it’s impossible—we’re still trying—but it’s a very small market. Once you have pitched to the small number of agents who accept submissions, and to the even smaller number of editors who do, you have nothing left.

The US and UK markets are bigger. We chose the US market.

As Australian writers though, just how much should we change our work to suit the American market?

I’m not talking tone here, but the little things that are different between countries that may make an American reader go, ‘Huh?’. Or the spelling, or even the size of the paper we submit on.

In BARRAIN, Melissa goes around to the boot of the car to get the backpack Scott takes on the hike with him.

If we pitch this story to US agents and publishers, should we make the boot a trunk?

What about spelling. Australian spelling favours English spelling rather than American. Colour rather than color, grey rather than gray, cheque rather than check, and so on. Or as one poster on the google answers site puts it, “gray is a color, grey is a colour”.

I also tend to favour ‘ise’ endings, rather than ‘ize’.

Even paper size is a question. If I am trying to sell to a US market, how much do I damage my chances by submitting on A4 paper?

I don’t know.

I don’t know how much difference any of these things make to trying to make a sale.

We don’t bother worrying about these things when we write. Before we submit something to the US market we run it through a US spell checker, but that’s about all we do.

If I found out that the paper size really harmed our chances, I might order in some letter size paper, but haven’t done so to date.

As for words like ‘trunk’. I’d probably leave them for the agent or editor to tell us to change before we touched them.

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