20 November 2016
Should I release a US English Edition of my Australian Book?

Many of our customers, who are marketing savvy, understand that the USA is a much bigger market for ebooks than Australia. First of all America has ten times the population of Australia. Secondly, consumers in the USA tend to be ahead of Australian consumers in terms of new technology uptake. Thirdly, they are said to be more enthusiastic—less apathetic—than Australians in general, so are arguably a better market for some books, such as self-help, new age, philosophy, sociology etc.

Some Australian self-publishing authors wonder how it could potentially work to make a version of their book that's more "American". They may have had a number of people ask them to release their book in America, and they feel that the American market would be more receptive to it if the book contained words like "diaper" instead of "nappy".

Writing books for the US market requires an editor with more than an understanding of simple word differences like the "trunk" of a car vs the "boot". It also involves hundreds of subtle spelling differences, slightly different grammar rules, cultural knowledge and seasonal differences. For example, in Australia, it is taken for granted that Christmas is a warm time of year when you can go swimming, but in America it is cold. It may even be snowing. Most Australians never see snow in their entire lives.

Releasing a US edition of a book is ultimately a marketing question, but it is also an editing one. Here at Australian eBook Publisher our book marketing experts are also editors, so they have just the right combination of skills to take care of the consideration of US English.

When we are asked questions like this, we want to be able to give our customers the best advice possible, but without the foundation of marketing stage 1, anything we can say relating to marketing is really just flippant—off the top of the head. If you want proper advice, please purchase a Marketing Stage 1—Action Plan. 

Having said that, most Australian authors who are self-publishing either put their book in US or AU spelling and wording. Not both. I've even seen the suggestion of writing the US spelling in brackets, but this is a big no-no. Some Americans might not even notice the British English, so by putting their spelling in brackets they will notice, and get annoyed. 

The reason most self-publishing authors do not go to the trouble of releasing two editions of their book (one in British/Australian English and one in US English) is it's more work to do two editions. 

So it is possible to have two editions and we are happy to edit books into American spelling, grammar, and wording—Contact Us—but the question is whether you have the time and budget to allow for this. 

Making a US edition of your book involves the following extra work:

  • Line edit (change to US spelling, grammar, wording, seasonal and cultural considerations)
  • Update/adjust cover image (if necessary, eg. to add "US Edition")
  • Update the printed book layout in InDesign
  • Reconvert to epub and mobi
  • Remove the British English edition from US channels on all vendors (if it got released there)
  • Upload the US English edition on all vendors (includes print on demand fees as per your quote all over again)

Read more about US spelling here

If you were to do a US edition, we would recommend getting the Australian project off the ground first. Then we can be sure you've finished making all possible changes and all designs are approved. Then is the most efficient time to make the US edition.

There's a US edition of my children's book Myra and the Magic Motorcycle up for sale on Amazon.com. It has changes in it like 'sidewalk' instead of 'footpath' for example.

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