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A Matter of Style

by Grady Hanrahan 

“God save the queen.”

These are the words of the British, of course, but British words known throughout the world. Less known in the United Kingdom, perhaps, are the markets that wait for eager writers to explore, conquer and reap financial awards. Our reaction to this naivete – and, as expected, a general assumption, is that North America has cornered most writing markets. This is simply not the case.

There are a plethora of markets in the United Kingdom that not only consider, but also happily accept submissions from abroad. The British people are curious people -their appetite for knowledge far exceeds the number of printed words. And they have a fascination with the world around them, which is reflected in the material on the writing markets.

George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” This may hold some truth and is one of the things we must consider when submitting from North America. There are many linguistic differences that can prove difficult when writing for UK markets, especially non-fiction varieties. I have listed a few common words below:

North American


Then there is the spelling debate. When writing for the British, spell like the British. Granted, there are some instances when original language and spelling are fine (e.g. literary journals). But to break into most other markets, careful attention must be taken to the use correct spellings. Below I have again listed a few differences:

North American


Most word processors have built-in spelling converters in which one can simply use before submitting to the UK. Or perhaps one can buy an English dictionary with Oxford being the preferred version.

Writing style and etiquette also play important roles in gaining acceptance into UK markets. The British are known for their twisted sense of humor and satirical nature, which is clearly reflected in the written material. UK fictional markets thrive on such elements and your chances of acceptance are increased if added to your submission. Adopting an “international” sense of humour in your writing is the best bet.

The same non-fiction rules apply when submitting domestically or abroad – it is best to be factual, concise and provide additional references if the subject is “foreign” to British culture. Writing about the societal cross-section of Tadpole, Indiana may sound like an interesting (and unique) subject, but will most likely fail without a proper introduction and background information.

Writing etiquette – perhaps the most important part of submitting abroad. You have spent many countless hours writing, editing and polishing your piece. So why neglect submission guidelines? UK markets sometimes have different submission procedures, i.e. cover letters, manuscript preparation and editorial policies. And the time it takes to reply to your submission will most likely be increased. Editors are busy people – be patient in your approach. As a general rule, wait at least three months before querying the status of your manuscript.

Make use of the Internet – search long and hard for relevant data on submission procedures. And always…always send proper return postage. International Reply Coupons (IRC’s) are issued by the Universal Postal Union and can be exchanged abroad for stamps sufficient for return postage providing that you send the correct number. A single sheet of postage (an acceptance letter perhaps) will cost the UK editor roughly (check prices) to send. However, I recommend sending two, if not three, to cover such costs. If buying IRC’s in the states, for example, it will cost roughly $1.15 (check current rates at with USPS) for each coupon. A small price to pay for success.

And finally, take the time to research unfamiliar areas unique to the UK. Most non-fiction markets deal with British or European subjects, places and events. Granted, there is a fascination with other parts of the world and included, in some aspect, in most publications. As mentioned before, the literary markets tend to be a bit more flexible and accept a wider range of subjects. However, one must be informed and educated before submitting to non-fiction markets, especially political, social, entertainment and business publications.

Writing is a difficult business with many variables. The number of writers entering the scene is increasing causing domestic publications to become deluged with submissions. This leaves us in search of different avenues to submit – and anxiously waiting– are the UK markets. Take extra time to research the markets and pay close attention to style.

For more information on UK markets, write to or browse the following:

The Writer’s Handbook
Macmillan Publishers, Ltd
4 Crinan St, London N1 9XW, UK

Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau

The BBR Directory


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