Happy Holidays?

american-flag-373361_1280Tap or faucet; pavement or sidewalk; mobile or cell; lift or elevator? All these and more are well known words which are different in British and American English. The one that’s troubling me at the moment is… holiday, or vacation.

I’m getting a cover designed for Singled Out, preparing to publish early next year. I’ve been using the services of crowdsourcing design site 99Designs. It’s been a fascinating experience so far (and I’ll write more about it once the ‘contest’ delivers my perfect design). The site gives access to designers from all over the world – as far as I can tell, entries to my contest came from as far afield as the UK, Venezuela, Italy, Spain, the Philippines, the USA, Germany, Romania and who knows where else.

I provided a brief, which included my strapline for the front cover: Everyone brings baggage on a singles holiday.

You see where I’m going with this?

Everyone duly included it in their designs, which was great; except one designer took it upon themselves to modify it to read: Everyone brings baggage on a singles vacation.

Cheeky so-and-so, I thought! But then I realised, the designer was making a very valid point – and in the process, doing me a favour.

It’s obviously preferable that my book is as attractive to the American market as it is to the UK market, or anywhere else. Ideally, I want to sell to any and every person who’s happy to read English language books, wherever they reside. So my question is this:

  • should I use the word holiday in my strapline, because I’m a Brit, or
  • should I use the word vacation in my strapline, because I want to appeal to American readers, or
  • should I invent another strapline that doesn’t involve use of either the word holiday or vacation?

It’s a dilemma, when your whole story is centred (or centered) around a… holiday/vacation.

Of course, the ideal solution would be to present a British English cover on Amazon.co.uk and an American English cover on Amazon.com (and whichever alternative is preferable in the various other Amazon domains) – but I haven’t yet explored whether this is even possible or practical. If it is, the problem goes away.

I’m still brainstorming alternative straplines anyway, as there’s always a better one hiding round the corner. But I’d love to hear your views, especially any Americans who might react either positively or negatively to a British English strapline. Or you could vote:

Oh, and since we’re talking about holidays – this seems like the perfect time to wish all my American readers/subscribers a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

6 thoughts on “Happy Holidays?

  1. Even as an American, I actually think using ‘holiday’ sounds better. Flows off the tongue nicely. Vacation sounds a bit harsher. But that’s just me. Might be the complete opposite to someone else! I think most Americans understand holiday is another word for vacation.

    That 99Designs sounds like a great site.

    1. Thanks for your feedback – your viewpoint is perhaps good news for me. I honestly hadn’t thought about this issue until one of the designers (one only) saw fit to play with my wording, and it just made me think. The 99Designs site is a good way to get lots of ideas – I just hope it results in a great design – signs are promising.

  2. I also think holiday sounds better in your line. I go on vacation – it is all about the destination. I take a holiday, it is a break from the day to day. Let the audience know up front the content is going to be in the UK’s dialect and save yourself from having to re-write the rest of the interior. Rather than being turned off, I bet there are a number of Anglophiles in the US that would pick it up off the shelves for that reason alone.

    I too had a great experience with 99Design.

    1. That’s good to know. The story itself is set in Turkey so that should hopefully engage readers far beyond the UK. Good to hear you had a positive experience of 99Designs too. I’m at the shortlist phase now, hopeful of a good outcome.

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