Why Do UK Readers Hate Me?

The UKWhile I might write in British English and know a lot about cricket, rugby and what makes for a great pint, it seems that my Australian colonial connection with the Mother Country ends at about where the titles of my books begin. Not to put too finer point on it, maybe I should reward all the very nice and pleasingly numerous American readers I have and start publishing my books in US English.

With tongue just a little in cheek, I often ask myself what I must have done to offend the ‘Bloody Poms’, and at the same time ask why it is that Americans seem to like my Antipodean writing style.

While many factors could be at play here such as the popularity of Kindle in the US compared with the UK, or the fact that the UK Amazon store is well, how can I say this politely? Rather lame and totally out of sync with all the other Amazon stores in the world while tending to be upwardly imaginative with pricing, might say enough.

There could of course be the ‘Swiss Effect’ at play as well, because as I live in Switzerland and as most UK readers would know that the Swiss speak French, German and Italian, they may think I’m publishing in a foreign language. I won’t mention anything about stereotypes and geographical acumen, but suffice to say, readers from elsewhere probably just look at my titles and notice they are in English and don’t worry about the threat of fondue, Heidi or Edelweiss.

To put my concerns into perspective, my sales are geographically distributed roughly as follows. Around 85% to the US, 10% to the UK and the last 5% are lost in the ambiguity of Amazon’s sales reports. Needless to say, it’s a great concern for me that my love of cricket and fine ale hasn’t lead to better UK sales.

Maybe I’ll just have to accept the fact that either I’m hated by the English, or respectfully ignored, but whatever the reason, thank you all you lovely ‘Yanks’ for keeping me in beer and peanuts!

14 thoughts on “Why Do UK Readers Hate Me?”

  1. They don’t just hate you mate, they’re not too fond of me either, and I was born here!

    Just because my accent and way of looking at things is pure New Zealand, brands me as well as you ‘colonials’. Like you, my highest sales are in the US.

    Stop The Press – I’ve just realized why we both do so well in the US and not here in the UK. As far as the poms are concerned Americans are colonials too. And everyone knows we colonials stick together Lol ;)

  2. Derek, I like you. :D

    My books sell well in both UK and US Kindle version. I do wonder if it is because I have written about Victorian London during the Ripper period. Getting drunk with the locals is a good idea. Learn a bit of Bristolian first or you might get lost in the conversation. :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZR_22laWCg

    What I find amusing is that, having been born in England, I was and still am, mistaken for Australian! They ask what part of Australia do I come from. I was brought up in Essex on the coast, and live on the Essex/Suffolk border for majority of my life. Over here, in Cyprus, they often ask if I am Australian. So I can only assume it is not the accent in your case, Derek. :)

    Good luck in Blighty!

  3. I’m a writer born in the UK, living in the UK, writing stories set in the Northern English hinterland (which is far removed economically, socially, culturally etc from the ol’ cricket, scones, tea and warm beer view of the English) and I’m finding I’m having much more success with US magazines and readers than those in my own country. I think It’s the nature of literary Society in the UK – the stranglehold that a certain elite has on what is decreed to be ‘Proper’ literature and what is not, a kind of ex-Arts Council and Oxbridge mafia and, not to forget, no matter what is said, England is completely segregated in terms of class. I work a manual job when not writing, didn’t attend university, my father worked 25 years in a hydraulics factory and I truly believe this is enough to bar me from certain circles. Luckily, in the ‘colonies’ a more enlightened view prevails. Check out a story of mine at http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/wp/?p=613 and best wishes!

  4. I was born in the UK but live in Australia. Over the past 8 months I’ve sold almost the same number of books in the US and UK, and that’s about 200 per month to each at US$3.99 each (or the GBP equivalent.) It’s only during July where the US sales powered ahead of the UK.

    Ironically, after my books were published in Australia I found it impossible to get a rights deal in the US OR the UK. The Americans wanted to see if the book sold in GB, due to the english-style humour, and the British never picked it up in the first place.

    Thank goodness for the Kindle, that’s all I can say.

  5. Sophie Nussle

    I was born and brought up in Switzerland (not far from where you live, Derek), of a Swiss father and English mother. I grew up speaking and writing in both languages, went to Swiss schools, then to a British university. I still love and work in both languages. I’ve lived in both countries and beyond. I can play the English ‘game’ (went to Oxford Uni, stuck out like a sore thumb there, but I loved it all the same). I have lived and worked all over Africa, in Canada and in France, travelled to Asia and throughout Europe. My ancestors are a mixed bag – from English to Irish to German to French to Jewish to Gipsy. My parents now live near Granada in Spain and I spend part of the year there. Where do I fit? I haven’t a clue. I just write and hope my stories touch people wherever they reach them. A few years ago I won a BBC World Service prize for a story set in Belgium and Rwanda (where I was working at the time), and I had African and British readers (listeners, actually) writing to me saying they were bowled over – and later I heard that some book clubs in Australia had studied it. I know we are supposed to write with a specific market in mind – I can only say mine has to be composed of odd-bods, world-curious individuals, and those who are interested in exploring the lives of people behind the clichés and headlines, as I am interested above all in how great events shape ordinary people, and in the inner life of characters. That’s also the kind of book I love to read.

    I’ve only recently heard of you, Derek – thank you Twitter – but your background and that ‘look inside’ glimpse of Louis made me buy it :)

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Sophie. Nice to meet another totally confused Swiss! lol And thanks so much for grabbing a copy of Louis. Thank you Twitter and ‘Look Inside’ too. :))

  6. Sophie Nussle

    In answer to your blog question… it’s not so much they hate you that they don’t know where to fit you – and the English do love to classify people, including writers. It’s the old Germanic sense of order. My feeling is that you’d hit more readers in other parts of the UK, and also, once English readers get a sense of where to fit you in the order of things.

  7. Oh, Derek, how can you say such a thing when this Brit is one of your biggest fans. I recently finished reading, ‘One Last Love’ and enjoyed it very much! :)

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