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Look British Even if You Aren't British -- Success in the UK Market

Brenda St John Brown

I've lived in the UK for nearly 8 years, but when I saw the RWA session entitled, Breaking Into the UK Market, I left the session I was in immediately prior and got a seat near the front to listen to Tasmina Perry talk about all things British and books. Because, honestly, even though I live here and troll my share of bookstores, MY UK market consists mostly of friends, friends of friends and, if I'm lucky, an occasional random reader. 

Tasmina Perry's session was incredibly useful, you guys. (And she's funny and personable and I now want to read all of her books.) My biggest takeaway -- cover appeal is very different in the UK market. As in, the bare-chested man covers don't work very well in the UK. NOT to say they don't work at all but illustrated covers work better. As do "sweeter" covers, in general. Take a look at Ann O'Loughlin's THE BALLROOM CAFE. The cover is the same in the US and the UK. As I'm writing this post, the UK paperback Amazon rank is 2,800 or something. The US rank is 745,000. However, the UK Kindle rank is #8! (It's not out in the US on Kindle yet.) Take a look at Lucy Diamond's books, too. Again, same covers in both markets, but SUMMER AT SHELL COTTAGE is a best-seller in the UK.

Two books with different covers in the US vs UK -- JoJo Moyes' ME BEFORE YOU. Granted, both editions have done well because who doesn't love this book? The US version, though, is very different from the UK version. And if you look at the "also bought's" , you'll see that all of Moyes' covers are different across the proverbial pond. Kristin Hannah's THE NIGHTINGALE is also super different in the US vs the UK. And, again, her other novels follow suit.

It makes me want to go and revisit my covers and it's certainly food for thought as I think about the cover for TRUTHS WE TELL and whether I'm going to go back to LIES WE LIVE and re-tool it for the British market. I'm curious, if you ARE British and reading this, what you think and how much, if at all, this rings true for you?