14 July 2015

Tuesday Talk - The Internet is a Wide World...

I was going to talk about my recent fabulous US trip, but something has irritated today, so I'm going to write about that instead.

OK a bit of a personal moan, I suppose, but one I have repeatedly come up against when I see authors doing it over and again  - and it annoys me every time.

Or am I just being a  stuffy, picky Brit?

The Civil War.
Place Names...  like Falmouth and Boston...

I can see you shrugging, is that a puzzled frown on your brow as well?
'Just what,' I hear you complaining, 'is she muttering about?'

Authors use the Internet to promote their books, right?

We Blog and Tweet and Facebook in subtle ways to draw attention to our epic tomes, usually in the format of 'interesting articles'. For us Historical Fiction authors these often relate to our research. And our readers (we hope) find them interesting, educational and entertaining ... except for me personally when this one little irritation pops up every now and then.

I don't always know if the author is US or UK - and even if I did, that is not always helpful: many US writers pen novels about English history and vice versa.

Here he or she is promoting their book (let's give it a title: 'Brother against Brother - a novel of family conflict during the Civil War'

Sounds interesting doesn't it?


The Civil War?

Are we talking Roundheads and Cavaliers, or North v the Southern Confederate States?

Then we have a novel about shipping: here's another made-up title: 'Fire at the Helm - a thrilling nautical adventure based around the famous Falmouth Fire'

Falmouth  - are we talking UK harbours or US harbors?
English Navy or US?

Boston MA. US

Or how about 'Time for Tea in Boston''
 Is this about THE famous tea party, or an entertaining novel about Sunday afternoon tea and biscuits with a charming British family?

Boston, Lincs, UK
I once contacted an American author and mentioned 'Why don't you say US Civil War, not just Civil War?' He answered 'Why would I need to? What other one was there?"
That did not exactly fill me with confidence for his general knowledge of history. I didn't read his book.

So authors, here's a suggestion:

If you are only going to sell your books in your own country, on your own branch of Amazon - then no, I don't suppose this picky viewpoint makes the slightest bit of difference,

but if you are going to market your book on the World Wide Web... maybe it might be an idea to be  that little tiny bit specific?


  1. Oh dear Helen - I do so agree with you. Although I have been able to work out on fb comments which civil war is being spoken about and it's nearly always the US one because not many people write about the old Roundheads and Cavaliers. I always just mention Alfred the Great's daughter - and to be fair, he did have more than one of those - but there was only one Alfred the Great. Wasn't there? (Crosses fingers and hopes)

    1. Well there might have been an Alfred the Viking or Captain Alfred of the US Southern Army... but as far as I know they weren't as great as Alfred THE Great! LOL . Yes it is possible to work out what specific Civil War etc is meant - but why should I bother?

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    3. Indeed! Funny what we think we know - "Between the wars" means nothing else to me but 1918-1939 Britain but it could mean so many different things. (Just off to google Alfred the Viking ..... )

  2. A great post…and entertaining too. So much so, I had to share. Now, I ask myself 'does this also apply to my Eric's adventures in Brixham Bay….' do I add UK? No! England? May well do. Being English n all. Well, mostly!

    1. Thanks Caz! Being serious a moment if you intend to market in the US (or Australia etc) no one will know where Brixham is - whereas 'Brixham in Devon England' might immediately spark interest.

  3. Fun post! Being specific doesn't hurt, but mind you, even when you are, chances are your readers get it wrong. Like my 17th century books in which a certain Charles Stuart figures as Prince Charles, upon which a snarky reader disses the book because "everyone knows Bonnie Prince Charlie lived in the 18th century" Ummm....

    1. Well in my opinion everyone knows Prince Charles is married to Camilla so you're both wrong LOL

  4. And, Helen, don't forget "the Revolution."

  5. Thanks for the tip, Helen. Americans can sometimes be a tad myopic. :-)

    1. Brits as well - if we're advertising our books in the US we should remember to put Falmouth, England etc.

  6. Yes, Helen. On the serious side, I was being serious. Adding, England! Quite like that.

    1. I'd suggest Devon, England - sounds more intriguing!

  7. Speaking of HRH n all 😊 veering off slightly 😠 I tend to remember names by association- Camilla is how I remember my 2 Camelia shrubs. Just saying. Well, Helen, you did bring our Prince n his wifey into this. Gotta larfe, life's too short!

  8. Ha! Yes, we writers (American and otherwise, actually) can be a bit myopic. If we use the town of Falmouth (I know there's an English one, or two also), for example, there are many, just as there are many Plymouths, etc in multiple countries, states, etc.

    The Falmouth in my upcoming book (Falmouth, Massachusetts 1700s version) in which I was referring to is now called Portland, Maine. (USA). They changed the name in the 1800s. To confuse things more, there's a Falmouth, Massachusetts (which is still there, but is a different place, even though in the 1700s, the Falmouth that burned (now Maine) was also in Massachusetts as Maine wasn't a state at that time). Confusing, I know!! I'm aware there are other Falmouths in different states (Michigan has one!) and perhaps other countries too, in addition to these mentioned).

    So I suppose we should be more specific even if we think others will know which town, place, era, etc we are writing about... ??

    1. *laugh* I really wouldn't want to be a USA Postman attempting to deliver a letter with just 'Falmouth USA' on it!
      For my Blog visitors: Shari will be a guest here in a couple of week's time. Her very interesting article mentions 'Falmouth' but not _which_ Falmouth which prompted the spark to write the above article. I suppose Falmouth sticks out in a Navy / ship-based novel because that is the name of one of England's major ports. For me though it is the 'Civil War' issue that cause the most confusion. Ah but which Civil War.....? :-)


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