I’m a native New Englander who grew up with an English mum. This should have well prepared me for a job at a U.K. publisher. But like anyone involved in cross-Atlantic publishing, I quickly saw that there was a lot to learn and understand about how the industry works in the U.K.. Here are just a few helpful tips for those working with British colleagues.

Learn a new language: As the saying goes, the U.S. and U.K. are two nations separated by a common language. Differences in spellings can dog you in every way, including spell-check in Outlook. There is also the matter of territory-specific lingo (sweaters vs. jumpers), along with a glossary of publishing industry terms that don’t always directly line up with American usage (page count vs. extent and back orders vs. dues).

Learn a new culture: Despite what the yellowed Mercator map in my fifth-grade classroom showed me, the U.S. is not the center of the world. And despite sharing a language, the U.S. and the U.K. possess vastly different cultures and temperaments. For example, curiosity and excitement as expressed by Americans can come across as overbearing and strident to their colleagues in the U.K. Conversely, British reserve can be misunderstood by Americans as aloofness or disinterest.

Grow to appreciate the nuances of communication style and body language. British humor is beautifully dry, so pay attention.

Learn to embrace technology: The pandemic made hybrid work the norm for many Americans. When working across the ocean, technology is a life-line. Everyone adapts to their best communication style. Video chat is just one form. We use ongoing chats within and between teams, as well as email and document sharing.

Learn to be a morning person: I’m not a self-professed morning person. Mornings are for meetings; afternoons are for getting work done. If you live on the West Coast, matters get more complex. These days, my sleep routine has me in bed by 9 p.m. and up by 5 a.m.

Learn to be patient: International inventory management can turn into a game of 3D checkers. As a result, both short- and longer-term stock outages are common. While POD and ASR programs can help alleviate some of those outages, there is still always a back and forth of inventory, reprints, and first print runs across the Atlantic. There is no next-day delivery in international publishing. Cargo ships can only move so fast and customs officials only so efficiently. Learn some breathing exercises; maybe take up tai chi. Most importantly, keep calm and carry on.

David Corey is North American v-p of sales and marketing for John Murray Press, a division of Hachette UK.

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