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I am Australian and have just finished writing a novel. The publisher I will be using is in the USA and uses the Chicago Manual of Style. Because I use UK English, I would prefer to leave my manuscript in the UK style, especially with regard to punctuation, and I would also like to preserve UK English spelling of words.

I am wondering whether to insist on a UK style guide for editing and publishing, or go with the flow and allow her to use the Chicago Manual of Style.

  • How many English speaking authors who are not American use the Chicago Manual of Style?
  • What percentage of British authors, or authors the Commonwealth countries, prefer to stay with UK conventions when it comes to punctuation and spelling?

I would be very grateful to receive advice from you.

Kind regards, James

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Firstly, congratulations on landing a publisher! That's one of the hardest steps.

That being said, if this is your first novel (even if not), it's probably best to go with what your publisher wants. If your novel will be published in the US, then it's general practice to have a version with the US standard of style. You can keep the UK style for the UK publications.

In my experience, I have not seen a novel published for the US that was in UK style. It's very jarring for the reader to see a different style. I unknowingly picked up a UK version of a book (I'm in the US), and the single quotes and extra "u"s everywhere almost made me lose my mind before I realized what I was looking at. I'm sure the same goes for UK readers picking up US versions as well.

You could ask your publisher if it's okay for you to stick with UK style, but if they say no, personally, I would just go with the US style for now and use the UK style for when you publish in the UK.

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(a) You certainly don't want to aggravate your publisher. It is perfectly fine to ask them if you can keep the UK style, but if they decline I would not "insist", as you plan to do, but defer to their greater experience. I would ask them to explain their reasons, because I want to learn something, but I certainly wouldn't argue about it.

(b) It's only punctuation and spelling. Who cares. Unlike Nicole I hardly ever notice whether the novel I'm reading is formatted according to US or UK English. Single or double quotes? I'm reading novels with French quotes, no quotes at all around dialoge or em dashes at the beginning of dialoge lines without blinking. "Color" or "colour"? With the internet everyone is used to both spellings. What I really find jarring are feet and inches! I have to do calculations to know how tall a person is! Or pounds, shilling and pence and other ancient currencies. Be glad they don't insist on changing the plot.

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