Posted by: gillarbuthnott | March 6, 2011

The Mysteries of Foreign Edits…

I  thought I was beginning to get the hang of this editing business – I write the book, editor suggests changes, we reach an agreement, job done – until I realised that a foreign edition is not necessarily the same as a UK edition. The Keepers’ Daughter has also been published in the USA (as The Keepers’ Tattoo) and Germany (as Tochter der Huter), but you would be reading three significantly different books if you read them all.

For the American edition, all the swearing and most references to alcohol had to go. This led to some amusing suggestions from the USA; based on the fact that I was British, they initially substituted ‘a cup of tea’ every time one of my characters had a beer or a cup of wine. Since they spend most of the book on the run, and didn’t actually pack a kettle as they escaped, I had to go carefully through the text trying to put in something a bit more appropriate to the story.

A more significant change though, was to Aria’s profession. I describe her as a ‘pleasure girl’ which in her world means prostitute. This was a big No No in the USA, so she was tranformed into a ‘cabaret dancer’. I’m not quite sure how, but this somehow came out, to my mind at least, reading more sleazily than her being a straightforward hooker! Still, it kept my American publisher happy.

The German publishers had no qualms about beer and women of ill repute, but asked me to trim the length by 20%, as otherwise it was simply going to be too long in German to be economical to print. 20% is quite a lump; you can’t do it by knocking out adjectives and descriptive passages. After some head scratching, my German editor suggested drastically pruning the part played by Mallery Roon’s touring theatre company. Though I was sorry to see them reduced to plot devices, it was the only thing that could be trimmed to that degree without drastically affecting the plot, so out they went. They still haven’t forgiven me though. I’m sure I can hear Roon protesting sometimes, just before I fall asleep…



  1. Sounds pretty hilarious to me! Thankfully I have the English edition, The Keeper’s Daughter, so no strange changes! I read it a while ago and loved it, must get round to reading it again!

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