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American copy editing

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Divided by a common language? American versus British copy editing

British readers are very much better at coping with American vocabulary - which often manages remarkably rapidly to embed itself in popular speech - than Americans are at dealing with British words. This is probably because the US influences culture all over the world, as the Brits - and the rest of the world - import American language along with films and television programmes.

The flow of books from the States to the rest of the world is therefore often reprinted in English-speaking countries in its original form, leaving the reader, wherever they are, to cope with American English. This has worked quite well on the whole and British readers, for instance, are unfazed by this. American readers are more fussy and British books, or those written using English English, are generally adapted before being published in the States.

For the written version of their language, those writers for whom English is a native language are likely to want their books to incorporate the version of the language they are most familiar with. As a writer you are more likely to concentrate on the market you're part of, which is also the one which reflects your own use of the language. But if you are a British writer focusing on writing for the American market, you might want your book to be copy edited to prepare it for the US market. The differences are not huge, but would be regarded by most American publishers as significant.

So far, so good, with English English and American English copy editors, wherever they are, provided with employment. But the picture is now changing with the growth of English as an international language. Many more people who are writing in English do not have it as their native language, and they face the dilemma of which version of the language to go for. Usually the best way to resolve this is to think about the market for which the book is being prepared. If it will be first published in the UK, then English English is best. If it will be coming out in the US first, then it makes sense to go for American English.

But what if your English is not that of a native speaker, and you feel your manuscript needs help to get it into idiomatic English? This is the dilemma faced by many writers across the world who are writing in English for an international market. The WritersServices Manuscript Polishing service, which will correct the English and make sure that the work reads well and naturally, has been designed to help these writers.

WritersServices has American editors on its books who can provide a good service in copy editing according to the conventions of American English. Since the website is London-based, we also have plenty of copy editors who are familiar with English English.

We are often asked by authors if they should get their manuscript professionally copy edited before submitting it. Although it is strictly speaking the publisher’s job to get your manuscript copy edited, it is worth considering having this work done in order to present your work in the best shape possible when you are submitting it to agents and publishers, especially if you don't think it is in a very good state to start with. If you are planning to self-publish, then copy editing is essential to make sure you do your book justice.

Copy editing

Inside Publishing on Copy editing and Proof-reading

© Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. 2006 and 2008