Monday, July 1, 2013

Aahh-hhar Me Hearty!

What language do you write in? Is it English, English or English?

I published an ebook that was based on alphabet flash cards with a letter, image and corresponding words on each page. It's simple, easy to read, and I thought it would be a great way teach my daughter her ABCs. She loves it, and I'm happy with the results. It is selling really well, and I'm getting lovely reviews – except that one bad review I got about how the 'athor can't spell'. That is right – it was a one star review with incorrect spelling, telling the world they thought my spelling was incorrect – talk about irony! Their reasoning? I had spelled 'yoghurt' wrong. They obviously had no idea that I lived outside the States, or that we spoke non-American English. It made me think a lot about who my audience is and how I write for them. [Ed: they also don't know their own language, as 'yoghurt' – with an 'h' – is an acceptable alternative spelling in America as well.]

I've come across ebooks that state in their forward-matter that the book is written in UK English and there aren't any misspelled words. She'd obviously had some stupid reviews by people who didn't realise that the written English language was different depending on which continent you lived on.

I've just published my last Petal the Owl book. Its about Autumn. In NZ we call it 'Autumn' but in the states they call it 'Fall'. Because my biggest selling market is the .com store, I've had to create two ebooks with different covers – one for the US called 'Petal's Fall Change' and one for my family and the rest of the world titled 'Petal's Autumn Change'. Why did I do this? Because I've discovered that the books in my cute Owl Seasons series that have a season named in its title sell better than those that don't. I've renamed 'Petal the Nature Owl' to 'Petal's Summer Fun' and created two versions of the autumn book just so I can sell the Fall book much better in the northern hemisphere during October.

How much of this is clever marketing and how much of it is just a bending-over-backwards-waste-of-time? Who knows at this stage, I've only just published these new titles, so we will see. :)

So for us Kiwi writers, what does this mean? Well, you need to consider who your target readers are. You need to decide what you want to get out of this writing and self-publishing thing and whether it matters to you that your writing is in American English for gaining greater sales in the .com online retailers, or if you are writing for your family, your country, for that prestigious national book award that you've always had your eye on. Choose a written language and stick with it, slang, colloquialisms, formal titles and all!

Oh – side note – did you know that you can set your Facebook page to different languages as well? Including Pirate! Aahh-hhar me hearty!

Have fun writing!

~ Joy Findlay


  1. Haha yup! I had my Facebook account on Pirate English for a while. Made me feel AWESOME.