yoni

Writing in English even though it's not my native language

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I have a dilemma that keep bothers me every time I start or even think about writing as a career. The dilemma is about writing in English even if it's not my native language. well, why wouldn't I want to write in my native language? because I live in a very small country of about 7-8 million people. and about 1 million of them read at least a book a month, and if they read a book, it's not written by an author from our country. because books in my country are expensive so a lot of us just buy a book that is written in English, by ordering it online and it is quite cheaper. 
also the book industry here is dying and authors (even the ones that considered famous here) earn just above the minimum wage. I have read a few books from authors from my country, some were terrible and some were kinda good, but one thing they all share is that they earn nothing. 
so I thought to myself that if I even became good at some point, I would still find it hard to earn money, I also thought about writing and immediately translating my books so I could publish them abroad, but I would have to rely on a really good translator and that means an expensive one. 
so I tried to write in English for quite a while and it's hard, it takes a lot of energy and time just to think about a few sentences, not to mention that I have a dictionary opened in a new tab that I have to check every five minutes if I wrote the right word, and with all that effort of time I could manage to squeeze 300 words a day, that's not much, but I thought to myself, hey I just started to write, I could reach more words in a month or two until I tried to write in my native language, and I got to tell you it was easy, I could squeeze 1000 words roughly in the same time with the filling that I could write even more. plus my dialogs in English are also terrible.
I have checked for famous authors who wrote in a different language from their native one and I have seen about two or three, Nabokov is a famous example. but its still not enough. writing in English is opening to a potential of millions of people who can buy and read my books. 
And I thought about moving to the U.S or Canada when I will be in my twenties, so that might be easier for me to write in English then, but its a few years away from me. 
So finally my question is, should I write in my native language OR practice writing in English even though it is extremely hard. if writing in English would eventually get easier I would be willing to keep it on, but  I don't know if writing in my own native language will truly fulfill my potential. 
That is my dilemma and I hope someone could help me with that.

TL;DR 
I am thinking about to write in English even though it's not my native language, but the problem is that it's really hard and might not pay off. what should I do? writing in English will expose me to millions of costumers that might want to buy my book, but in my country almost no one buys the books that our authors write.

Edited by yoni
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That's a tough choice that only you can answer for yourself.

I know a few people personally who write in English even though it isn't their native language (they're in a situation almost exactly like what you describe), and they do fairly well. Probably better than they would in their native language. Writing in English definitely gives you access to a broader market, but some prefer their native language because they love it and want to contribute to its culture even if it means making less money.

As far as markets are concerned, there is a growing one for translated English works. People are seeing that works from different countries have vastly different flavours and bring something new to the reader that native works don't always provide. If you can tell a good enough story in your native language, making money in English translation isn't out of the question. And you don't have to wait for a translation offer. Nothing stops you from writing in your language and having someone else create an English translation for you.

 

My recommendation: First learn to tell a good story. Take as much time as you need, but do that first. You can work on your native or foreign language skills at the same time, or at a later date. Writing in English isn't a guarantee of success, but writing a boring story in any language is a guarantee of failure.

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yeah, I understand. your point. I personally don't like my native language, spoken or written, that's why I read books which have been written in English, and regarding to know how to tell a story I still have a lot to learn and improve regarding the language which the book is written. the thing that worries me the most is the dialogs, until I won't live in an English speaking country I won't truly know how to write a dialogue (or so that's what I think) everything I know about dialogues in English are from tv shows and movies. 

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yeah, I understand. your point. I personally don't like my native language, spoken or written, that's why I read books which have been written in English, and regarding to know how to tell a story I still have a lot to learn and improve regarding the language which the book is written. the thing that worries me the most is the dialogs, until I won't live in an English speaking country I won't truly know how to write a dialogue (or so that's what I think) everything I know about dialogues in English are from tv shows and movies. 

 

I can see how dialogue might be a problem. And even if you have friends who speak English and you practice with them, it might not have the same ring as it would if spoken by a native speaker. TV shows and movies aren't very far off the mark. They're perfectly fine. You can also spend time listening to unscripted words like some podcasts to get a feel for how native English speakers use the language.

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I can see how dialogue might be a problem. And even if you have friends who speak English and you practice with them, it might not have the same ring as it would if spoken by a native speaker. TV shows and movies aren't very far off the mark. They're perfectly fine. You can also spend time listening to unscripted words like some podcasts to get a feel for how native English speakers use the language.

I'll sure check it out, thanks.

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My advice: Go for it! Why not?

I'm a similar situation. English isn't my native language, yet I decided to try my hand at writing and publishing a work in English.

I live in one of the largest countries in the world, and you can say we do read a lot. However, the market isn't really good for fantasy/fiction. They're seen as childish, and we read mostly worldwide bestsellers, translated to our language and marketed differently than outside our corner of the world. We have successful native authors, but they mostly write other genres.

But I like my native language, and I'd love to see the market for local authors bloom. For me it was more a matter of mustering enough courage to also try the English route—then decide how I'd work and which publishing strategy I'd adopt.

The strategy: I want to publish in two markets/languages, English first. There is a certain glamour associated with foreign works, as you can imagine. Succeeding in getting published in English would give me a little head start to get published here, while publishing here first wouldn't help with getting published in English. I also know more about the steps involved in getting published in US/UK than here. Another point that weighted in my decision was the likeness of finding a good local editor specializing in fantasy: lower, since we don't see much local fantasy/fiction being published.

How I work: Despite writing/reading in English on a daily basis I don't feel fully comfortable in writing fiction in it. I'm proficient, yet knowing my tendency to build sentences oddly I double guess mine a lot. Luckily for us, wanting a final product in English doesn't mean you need to work exclusively in English.

I'm writing my first draft in my native language. I take notes on the English equivalents that came to my mind while writing—remember you don't need to translate everything literally, focus on the mood and meaning instead.

I'm an amateur writer, mind you, and my writing takes a fair amount of editing to become fit for human consumption. When I'm reviewing the entire story in the second draft to reorder and tighten up sentences I do that in English. It has been working well for me so far, because my needs were:

1st Writing freely and comfortably; 2nd Making what I wrote stronger.

Using my native language, in which I'm very confident, allows me to write and dare in the exact amounts I should for a first draft; using English (which is a conciser language than my native) in the second draft forces me to reorder my thoughts and output a better story.
 

Figure out all your personal needs and quirks. Develop a workflow that best fits them.

Regarding dialogue, I advise you to read a lot in English to get used to it. We, non-native English speakers, are at an increased risk of inadvertently adopting the character/author voice. Avoid it by reading a lot of books, and from different authors. There are the added benefits of getting used to English in general, increasing your vocabulary and learning the equivalents of local idioms.

I second Shrike's advice about listening podcasts. Writing Excuses is a good start. They have a clear accent, and you'll simultaneously train your "English ear" and learn about writing. (:

You'll still need first-hand practice, and for that you have a convenient tool in your hands already: Internet. Forum/comments discussions flow differently than a live conversation, but they still do a fine job as practice. Better this than no practice at all, right? To expose yourself to more spontaneous conversations, try live chats and online games. The downside is stumbling on a lot of mangled or non-native English, the upside is getting familiarized to English while you have fun in your leisure time.

Practice in your native language as well. When you get a good hang of character voices/dialogue pacing + proficiency in English much of what you know in your language carries to your writing in English.

Edited by Sera
Fixed weird paragraph spacing after forum update
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While I speak English as my native language, I do speak a secondary language (German), and I would be terrified at the thought of trying to write in that language. I would recommend you write in your native language, and maybe if you have a finished first draft, you can start translating during your editing process.

 

That's just me guessing, however. Being honest, I've never been in your situation, and I don't know whether I have the best answer.

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For what it's worth Sera and Yoni, your English in these posts is excellent. I don't know how long it took you to compose them, mind you.

 

I would suggest that you have nothing to fear about writing in English. Some of the submissions that I critique in the Reading Excuses group on this site (and I read them all) do not reach the standards of English that you are showing in these posts. I have also read submissions from authors who write in English as a second language that are (not unreasonably) less accomplished than your language in these posts, so I would say go for it.

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I am in a similar situation as well. I also have a dictionary tab open at all times in my browser when I'm writing.

You know what, I have been consuming English for 10 years now (movies, podcasts, games, forums, articles...) so I've grown to be very proficient at understanding it, even in different dialects. What's lacking me is producing in English rather than consuming.

And I have already laid a solid groundwork that will help me with this task. I only need to practice, make my mind used to producing in English like it's used to consuming. Practice my friend, practice!

At least, that's what I've told myself.

 

The thing that i actually have a problem with is getting published in the US/UK while not living there. But I know that if I write a really great book, then things will eventually solve themselves.

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I admire your confidence King, but I suspect the reality is that there are many great books sitting in drawer, unseen.

 

I don't mean to sound downbeat, and I certainly have no great experience of publishing, but I go by what I have heard in listening to 11 years of Writing Excuses.

 

Of course you must be confident, but beware of complacency that writing a good book is enough on it's own.

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I admire your confidence King, but I suspect the reality is that there are many great books sitting in drawer, unseen.

 

I don't mean to sound downbeat, and I certainly have no great experience of publishing, but I go by what I have heard in listening to 11 years of Writing Excuses.

 

Of course you must be confident, but beware of complacency that writing a good book is enough on it's own.

 

You're actually right; if you read my introduction thread, you'll see that the number of books I've read is very small. I do have a long way to go.

I'll take care of the publishing matter when I actually have decent writing skills. Now I'm just focusing on improving my English.

 

You know, just the other day this week, I tried to write a scene where a boy is lying on his bed and his father is sitting next to him telling him a story. I was incapable of producing a good description. It was such a simple scene but no matter what I tried, it did not sound authentic at all. I was so frustrated at my inability to achieve such an easy feat, but then I thought to myself: who am I kidding? I just started writing. Sure I watched a whole lot of American television and whatever and I grew to understand it a lot but that's just not enough. How can I expect myself to sound like a native English speaker just overnight! That would be too conceited!

So I decided to just take it one step at a time; it's not going to be easy and I'm not going to have an immediate and apparent improvement but with enough time and right practice, I might just make it. I just have to keep going and not give up.

 

It felt so good getting this out my chest. I hope to rely on your feedback for my next submissions!

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I hope to rely on your feedback for my next submissions!

You can indeed rely on that :)

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Ayn Rand wrote in English despite being born in Russia and I think she's a great writer (don't throw rocks at me) so I think that using your native language to inform your writing might be an asset not a liability. I wish you all the best. 

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Ayn Rand wrote in English despite being born in Russia and I think she's a great writer (don't throw rocks at me) so I think that using your native language to inform your writing might be an asset not a liability. I wish you all the best. 

 

Mmm, without throwing rocks, I would heavily suggest reading far more widely and re-evaluating that opinion. Ayn Rand, being charitable, wrote the political equivalent of chic tracts, and did so for an incredibly extreme and naive political position that doesn't actually reflect the way the world works, regardless of whether you fall on the left or right side of the political spectrum. (Seriously, ask an economist whether Atlas Shrugged makes any sense.They're generally pretty right-wing and I've never heard a serious economist agree that a capitalist counter-revolution would actually work the way she says)

 

That's not to say heavily political books can't be good, just that I think by any critical measure the reason Ayn Rand's books aren't good is unrelated to their political philosophy or their level of politicization.

 

It would be a shame to have anyone thinking that Ayn Rand was as good as literature could get. (or even, you know, relatively passable)

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I would definitely not recommend moving. The reason why I write, and I suspect many others is not for money nor fame, but rather because we enjoy it. Forcing yourself to write in a language foreign to you is not enjoyable. Write in you native tongue.

Also, Ayn Rand was good!

Hatzlacha raba! 

Edited by aeromancer
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Some more great writers writing in non-native languages: Joseph Conrad was originally Polish.  Samuel Becket was Irish and wrote in French.  Dai Sijie is Chinese and writes in French.  Personally, one of my very favorite books is The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola.  His first language was Yoruba, and the English he uses in the book is very non-standard, but he wrote one of the best books ever written in this language, and he jumpstarted the entire field of Anglophone African literature that would later give us masters like Chris Abani and Chinua Achebe. So there's a small but real chance that even if you don't master English, you can still write an english-language masterpiece.

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My advice: Go for it! Why not?

 

I'm a similar situation. English isn't my native language, yet I decided to try my hand at writing and publishing a work in English.

 

I live in one of the largest countries in the world, and you can say we do read a lot. However, the market isn't really good for fantasy/fiction. They're seen as childish, and we read mostly worldwide bestsellers, translated to our language and marketed differently than outside our corner of the world. We have successful native authors, but they mostly write other genres.

 

But I like my native language, and I'd love to see the market for local authors bloom. For me it was more a matter of mustering enough courage to also try the English route—then decide how I'd work and which publishing strategy I'd adopt.

 

The strategy: I want to publish in two markets/languages, English first. There is a certain glamour associated with foreign works, as you can imagine. Succeeding in getting published in English would give me a little head start to get published here, while publishing here first wouldn't help with getting published in English. I also know more about the steps involved in getting published in US/UK than here. Another point that weighted in my decision was the likeness of finding a good local editor specializing in fantasy: lower, since we don't see much local fantasy/fiction being published.

 

How I work: Despite writing/reading in English on a daily basis I don't feel fully comfortable in writing fiction in it. I'm proficient, yet knowing my tendency to build sentences oddly I double guess mine a lot. Luckily for us, wanting a final product in English doesn't mean you need to work exclusively in English.

 

I'm writing my first draft in my native language. I take notes on the English equivalents that came to my mind while writing—remember you don't need to translate everything literally, focus on the mood and meaning instead.

 

I'm an amateur writer, mind you, and my writing takes a fair amount of editing to become fit for human consumption. When I'm reviewing the entire story in the second draft to reorder and tighten up sentences I do that in English. It has been working well for me so far, because my needs were:

 

1st Writing freely and comfortably; 2nd Making what I wrote stronger.

Using my native language, in which I'm very confident, allows me to write and dare in the exact amounts I should for a first draft; using English (which is a conciser language than my native) in the second draft forces me to reorder my thoughts and output a better story.

 

Figure out all your personal needs and quirks. Develop a workflow that best fits them.

 

Regarding dialogue, I advise you to read a lot in English to get used to it. We, non-native English speakers, are at an increased risk of inadvertently adopting the character/author voice. Avoid it by reading a lot of books, and from different authors. There are the added benefits of getting used to English in general, increasing your vocabulary and learning the equivalents of local idioms.

 

I second Shrike's advice about listening podcasts. Writing Excuses is a good start. They have a clear accent, and you'll simultaneously train your "English ear" and learn about writing. (:

 

You'll still need first-hand practice, and for that you have a convenient tool in your hands already: Internet. Forum/comments discussions flow differently than a live conversation, but they still do a fine job as practice. Better this than no practice at all, right? To expose yourself to more spontaneous conversations, try live chats and online games. The downside is stumbling on a lot of mangled or non-native English, the upside is getting familiarized to English while you have fun in your leisure time.

Practice in your native language as well. When you get a good hang of character voices/dialogue pacing + proficiency in English much of what you know in your language carries to your writing in English.

 

Just want to say, thanks for the advice, from you and everyone who commented here. 

 

After a long time in which I almost completely forgot about this post, I started to write in English. And I also finished my first short story after re-writing it for 3-4 times and getting my family to help with the English slang and the construction of phrases. I built my own method of writing which is; to write the first draft as loosely as I can with great focus on the plot, even though some things in the story or some sentences don't add up or don't even make sense, it didn't matter, because I would rewrite it nevertheless. and then I would keep doing that until I have a clear picture of the story and the plot and every loose end would be tied. still, the dialogues are a burden to me. 

But my dilemma still goes on, after more than a year of writing in English a voice in my head still tries to convince me to write in Hebrew (my native language). then I composed a pros and cons list of writing in English VS Native language. 

 

Pros of English: Bigger market, easier to get published (I can publish my books on amazon KDP. ), Easier to get fans, readers, and an overall crowd. 

 

And now we move for the Cons of writing in English: my writing is really slow (a max of 500 words a day), and since I have many grammar errors I need an editor for that. Also, I would probably won't immigrate from my country, a thing that would make it harder to maintain the English voice and slang, and the last thing which is the dialogue. 

 

Now, the pros of writing in my Native Language: much easier to write (at least 1000 words a day without breaking a sweat), I would finish books quicker, I would probably would not need a freelance editor since I could only publish with a book publishing company (and  they would provide everything.) the dialogues and voices of the characters would be ten times easier. Also, I consider myself a pretty patriotic man, and I kinda believe that if I write and publish in my country it would support the market. 

 

A thing that always jump to me as an argument is Paulo Coelho, he is a famous writer who translated his works to English (you've probably read his most famous one "The Alchemist") and then I say to myself: "if I'm truly good at writing, I could make it in any language." 

But when i look at the Cons of Writing in my native language:

I can't publish it on the internet in an Ebook format, the market in my country is pretty small and even the successful writers here, and I mean REALLY successful, that are known, by almost everyone in the country, make just the same as a worker on a minimum wage. its pretty sad. 

 

I think that the real difference is when you start out, I think that it would be easier to start to publish in English in amazon KDP, but I also believe if I'm good I could be translating my work to international audiences. 

What do you guys think? 

Edited by yoni
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On 5/28/2016 at 9:36 AM, yoni said:

 

Just want to say, thanks for the advice, from you and everyone who commented here. 

 

After a long time in which I almost completely forgot about this post, I started to write in English. And I also finished my first short story after re-writing it for 3-4 times and getting my family to help with the English slang and the construction of phrases. I built my own method of writing which is; to write the first draft as loosely as I can with great focus on the plot, even though some things in the story or some sentences don't add up or don't even make sense, it didn't matter, because I would rewrite it nevertheless. and then I would keep doing that until I have a clear picture of the story and the plot and every loose end would be tied. still, the dialogues are a burden to me. 

But my dilemma still goes on, after more than a year of writing in English a voice in my head still tries to convince me to write in Hebrew (my native language). then I composed a pros and cons list of writing in English VS Native language. 

 

Pros of English: Bigger market, easier to get published (I can publish my books on amazon KDP. ), Easier to get fans, readers, and an overall crowd. 

 

And now we move for the Cons of writing in English: my writing is really slow (a max of 500 words a day), and since I have many grammar errors I need an editor for that. Also, I would probably won't immigrate from my country, a thing that would make it harder to maintain the English voice and slang, and the last thing which is the dialogue. 

 

Now, the pros of writing in my Native Language: much easier to write (at least 1000 words a day without breaking a sweat), I would finish books quicker, I would probably would not need a freelance editor since I could only publish with a book publishing company (and  they would provide everything.) the dialogues and voices of the characters would be ten times easier. Also, I consider myself a pretty patriotic man, and I kinda believe that if I write and publish in my country it would support the market. 

 

A thing that always jump to me as an argument is Paulo Coelho, he is a famous writer who translated his works to English (you've probably read his most famous one "The Alchemist") and then I say to myself: "if I'm truly good at writing, I could make it in any language." 

But when i look at the Cons of Writing in my native language:

I can't publish it on the internet in an Ebook format, the market in my country is pretty small and even the successful writers here, and I mean REALLY successful, that are known, by almost everyone in the country, make just the same as a worker on a minimum wage. its pretty sad. 

 

I think that the real difference is when you start out, I think that it would be easier to start to publish in English in amazon KDP, but I also believe if I'm good I could be translating my work to international audiences. 

What do you guys think? 

There are powerful arguments for both sides, but I think that if you want a career in professional writing then you will need to use English. That being said, I would suggest storybuilding and drafting in your native language, because your ideas will flow more naturally when your mind can express them in a familiar way. When it comes to dialogue, I prefer to base it off of what actual people in my life would say. Since it doesn't sound like you live near an abundance of English speakers, use the internet to ask people what they would say in certain situations. Maybe even make it into a role-playing thing: "Your father has just revealed to you that he can move objects with his mind. What do you say to convince him to help you cheat on your physics practical exam?" Find some people whose natural voices fit your characters, then use their words.

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On 7/7/2016 at 9:01 AM, Elenion said:

There are powerful arguments for both sides, but I think that if you want a career in professional writing then you will need to use English. That being said, I would suggest storybuilding and drafting in your native language, because your ideas will flow more naturally when your mind can express them in a familiar way. When it comes to dialogue, I prefer to base it off of what actual people in my life would say. Since it doesn't sound like you live near an abundance of English speakers, use the internet to ask people what they would say in certain situations. Maybe even make it into a role-playing thing: "Your father has just revealed to you that he can move objects with his mind. What do you say to convince him to help you cheat on your physics practical exam?" Find some people whose natural voices fit your characters, then use their words.

 

before I start, this is my new account since my old one is bugged and it doesn't let me log in. 

I see what you suggest here, and I had a similar thought about it, but what I want is a single language to write in, I don't want to get confused and or put any more pressure and to make the whole experience of writing more frustrating. so in the last few weeks, I had a conversation with some family members about this dilemma, and after a few hours of thinking I decided to try this plan: 

the first decision is to start to write in my native language, (the funny thing that I found is that I was so used to writing in English that my native language felt un-natural for the first few days. but it gets easier fast). - the idea about this decision is to finish a book and compare it to the story I wrote in English and see if I'm evenly good in both of these or the opposite. the other idea is that if I'm actually good at what i do, I would be recognized.

the second decision is to hire a freelance editor, and after that, i would get it translated into English and then publish it on kindle.

the idea behind this decision is the fact that writing is supposed to be enjoyable, a thing that I do after returning home from my day job. it's not supposed to feel as another job. 

in summary, I want to let some time to pass as I write in my native language, and that's how I would really see what is more comfortable for me, whether it would be English or my native one. 

I will update this message when I'll finish a story in my native language, and I guess that we would see what happens next. 

thanks for the help guys.

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On 28/05/2016 at 0:36 PM, yoni said:

Just want to say, thanks for the advice, from you and everyone who commented here. 

 

After a long time in which I almost completely forgot about this post, I started to write in English. And I also finished my first short story after re-writing it for 3-4 times and getting my family to help with the English slang and the construction of phrases. I built my own method of writing which is; to write the first draft as loosely as I can with great focus on the plot, even though some things in the story or some sentences don't add up or don't even make sense, it didn't matter, because I would rewrite it nevertheless. and then I would keep doing that until I have a clear picture of the story and the plot and every loose end would be tied. still, the dialogues are a burden to me. 

But my dilemma still goes on, after more than a year of writing in English a voice in my head still tries to convince me to write in Hebrew (my native language). then I composed a pros and cons list of writing in English VS Native language. 

 

Pros of English: Bigger market, easier to get published (I can publish my books on amazon KDP. ), Easier to get fans, readers, and an overall crowd. 

 

And now we move for the Cons of writing in English: my writing is really slow (a max of 500 words a day), and since I have many grammar errors I need an editor for that. Also, I would probably won't immigrate from my country, a thing that would make it harder to maintain the English voice and slang, and the last thing which is the dialogue. 

 

Now, the pros of writing in my Native Language: much easier to write (at least 1000 words a day without breaking a sweat), I would finish books quicker, I would probably would not need a freelance editor since I could only publish with a book publishing company (and  they would provide everything.) the dialogues and voices of the characters would be ten times easier. Also, I consider myself a pretty patriotic man, and I kinda believe that if I write and publish in my country it would support the market. 

 

A thing that always jump to me as an argument is Paulo Coelho, he is a famous writer who translated his works to English (you've probably read his most famous one "The Alchemist") and then I say to myself: "if I'm truly good at writing, I could make it in any language." 

But when i look at the Cons of Writing in my native language:

I can't publish it on the internet in an Ebook format, the market in my country is pretty small and even the successful writers here, and I mean REALLY successful, that are known, by almost everyone in the country, make just the same as a worker on a minimum wage. its pretty sad. 

 

I think that the real difference is when you start out, I think that it would be easier to start to publish in English in amazon KDP, but I also believe if I'm good I could be translating my work to international audiences. 

What do you guys think? 

I also forgot about this thread (I kinda dropped from the edge of the world actually), sorry for the late reply.

Your Paulo Coelho mention brought a smile to my lips, since he's from my country. Is it possible to start in your own language and become an international success later? Surely! The issue is how unlikely it can be. Paulo Coelho was already big here, years upon years of writing. Then he got translated, and it worked, and the fact he got published in US fed into his national fame which fed into his international fame as well, if it's even possible. This man has a seat at the Brazilian Academy of Letters, the biggest honour bestowed upon a Brazilian writer. Yet he went bigger! He took risks!

His career is exceptional. It shows you can get translated later and make it work. But it's exceptional. You won't find anyone else from my country experiencing nearly the same success. Even the moderately successful in the national market don't take off the way he did, they just remain moderately successful. To achieve something similar you'll need time, the right marketing strategies, a great book, and a dash of luck. In Coelho's case, going international had a great impact on his career.

Edited by Sera
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5 minutes ago, Sera said:

I also forgot about this thread (I kinda dropped from the edge of the world actually), sorry for the late reply.

Your Paulo Coelho mention brought a smile to my lips, since he's from my country. Is it possible to start in your own language and become an international success later? Surely! The issue is how unlikely it can be. Paulo Coelho was already big here, years upon years of writing. Then he got translated, and it worked, and the fact he got published in US fed into his national fame which fed into his international fame as well, if it's even possible. Hehas a seat at the Brazilian Academy of Letters, the biggest honour bestowed upon a Brazilian writer. Yet he went bigger! He took risks!

His career is exceptional. It shows you can get translated later and make it work. But it's exceptional. You won't find anyone else from my country experiencing nearly the same success. Even the moderately successful in the national market don't take off the way he did, they just remain moderately successful. To achieve something similar you'll need time, the right marketing strategies, a great book, and a dash of luck. In Coelho's case, going international had a great impact on his career.

4

my country also has a lot of moderately successful writers, that they, as you said, only famous in the country and outside are unknown. but, I think that a sort of "new age" of publishing is coming. thru self-publishing in E-books platforms such as kindle. what I liked about Kindle, that it promotes everyone without exception. which will help beginner authors. my strategy would be, to raise some money from my day job, get a good freelance editor, a good freelance translator and pay someone to design an ebook cover, and promote my books by offering short stories for- either free or at 1 buck. and slowly, as I believe, I could achieve at least a decent fan base, and if I'm any good at it, the sales will rise even higher. 

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I can't speak about self-publishing. It's harder to see through it: how exactly it's being marketed, which strategies are successful, what sort of content has higher chances of succeeding.

If the context (national market preferences, publisher quality, editors availability) plays a big role in traditional publishing, it weights even more in self-publishing. I can say that right now my country has an underdeveloped ebook market. Self-publishing in my native language first wouldn't help at all. You have a better idea of what works in your country, how self-publishing fares there and everything than all of us. Only you can decide the best strategy.

Don't forget you can build a fan base in another ways. If you're taking the online route you have social networks to work with. If I were starting to build a strictly reader fan base today I'd probably keep a blog/page on writing, with perhaps some off posts on creative processes and related stuff, and I'd occasionally throw excerpts or very short stories there. It works for everyone? Nope, you need to be a blogger-type person. It won't work if you don't love it, people will see through it as an attempt to simply sell stuff. But that's just food for thought, one of the many uses of social networking.

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Hello there! I know I'm late, but here's another non-native who writes in English. I had to say something in here, because I know the struggles you're going through. Until I came here, I actually thought there were very few people who did this thing, but I am incredibly grateful to know it's not true. 

Allow me to tell you a bit about my personal experience.

I have a deep love for English. Almost to the obsessive point xD. I no longer watch TV or movies in my native language (I don't go to the cinema unless I can watch the movie in English). Same with books. I even manage to speak English sometimes with my friends even if they're also non-natives. The point is my free time is spent entirely around English, so you can say I'm quite committed to writing in English as well. I've been learning English for nine long years. Nine. Ever since I started in school and until today. I've never gone abroad. I don't have any bilingual family members. I don't have any kind of special talent or something to make me special. But I still write in English. No hesitation.

The last four of those nine years, I've spent writing in English and extensively improving it, so let me give you the first piece of advice, the first secret: it's exhausting and very discouraging. Why? Here's some examples:

- You see ads and posters announcing a writer workshop near where you live, but it's not in English. Sure, maybe you can still gain some knowledge to use if they're talking about character development, for example, but it's... not quite the same. I have gone to several workshops, and believe me when I tell you it's not the same. 

- You hear about a contest in your town or province (or whatever similar), for fiction novels. You want to participate but oh... you can't, because you aren't a native writer. 

- Sending your manuscript to publishers in your country is out of the question, because they're not going to even regard a story written in other language, even if they have contact with English publishers. 

- You can't hire or consult with any editors or professionals in your country, because they don't work with English, and even if they do, it's still not quite the same. 

- If you find a native English speaking editor, they're probably not in your country, so meetings can be quite tricky and annoying if they have to be done through Skype. 

- Sending your manuscripts abroad can be quite expensive, not always, but sometimes I haven't been able to efford an entry to a contest. I haven't tried with publishers yet, so I can't speak for that. 

- And probably more cons I am forgetting about right now xD.

So after all this... why do I keep writing in English? It's been four long years, I'm not about to give up at this point xD. I've put so much effort into making my writing better each day. It's hard to know if you're succeeding, simply because few people around you can read and critique you (and with critique I mean long and extensive ones). The internet helps with this, true, but I will repeat myself, it's not the same, and even then it's rare to find someone you can trust 250%. However, you can still find some help through forums and whatnot. 

This thing we do, writing in English as non-natives, is incredibly hard. To crack 1000 words we need a lot more time than a native needs. But it's okay. You're learning, you're practicing, that's the whole point. I can tell you without a hint of a doubt that it gets better, but you need to put a lot of effort into it, otherwise, you don't improve. If I compare my writing to the one I did a couple of years ago, there is a huge difference. I write a lot faster than I used to, and a lot better. Since last year, it's starting to come more natural, without the need for any translations. I still use the dictionary, but I'm starting to use it less and for synonyms rather than translations. 

You don't need to move abroad. You don't need special classes. If you surround yourself with English, if you practice, improvement comes. If you don't, then maybe you do need classes or moving abroad. I've needed years of practice to get where I am, but if you're committed to the cause, if you're passionate, you won't mind. I certainly don't. 

I'd say that you have to ask yourself an important question: is it worth it? Are you willing to spend years practicing? If you are, it comes with important rewards. Publishing in English is always better than any other language, you will reach a wider audience, no matter if you self-publish or not. In the end, that's what we, authors, want, to reach as many people as possible so they can experience the same journey we did while writing. Personally, I've experienced this first hand. I have translated into my native language some of my English short stories. The English versions ALWAYS got more comments and views than the Spanish ones. 

I know this got too long xD. The point I was trying to make is: you can improve at writing in English, no doubt about it, but you need time and MASSIVE amounts of reading in English. Once you've gotten used to it, it gets easier and rewarding. 

If I've done it, anyone can. Go for it!

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On 7/28/2017 at 6:36 PM, Sheity Williams said:

Hello there! I know I'm late, but here's another non-native who writes in English. I had to say something in here, because I know the struggles you're going through. Until I came here, I actually thought there were very few people who did this thing, but I am incredibly grateful to know it's not true. 

Allow me to tell you a bit about my personal experience.

I have a deep love for English. Almost to the obsessive point xD. I no longer watch TV or movies in my native language (I don't go to the cinema unless I can watch the movie in English). Same with books. I even manage to speak English sometimes with my friends even if they're also non-natives. The point is my free time is spent entirely around English, so you can say I'm quite committed to writing in English as well. I've been learning English for nine long years. Nine. Ever since I started in school and until today. I've never gone abroad. I don't have any bilingual family members. I don't have any kind of special talent or something to make me special. But I still write in English. No hesitation.

The last four of those nine years, I've spent writing in English and extensively improving it, so let me give you the first piece of advice, the first secret: it's exhausting and very discouraging. Why? Here's some examples:

- You see ads and posters announcing a writer workshop near where you live, but it's not in English. Sure, maybe you can still gain some knowledge to use if they're talking about character development, for example, but it's... not quite the same. I have gone to several workshops, and believe me when I tell you it's not the same. 

- You hear about a contest in your town or province (or whatever similar), for fiction novels. You want to participate but oh... you can't, because you aren't a native writer. 

- Sending your manuscript to publishers in your country is out of the question, because they're not going to even regard a story written in other language, even if they have contact with English publishers. 

- You can't hire or consult with any editors or professionals in your country, because they don't work with English, and even if they do, it's still not quite the same. 

- If you find a native English speaking editor, they're probably not in your country, so meetings can be quite tricky and annoying if they have to be done through Skype. 

- Sending your manuscripts abroad can be quite expensive, not always, but sometimes I haven't been able to efford an entry to a contest. I haven't tried with publishers yet, so I can't speak for that. 

- And probably more cons I am forgetting about right now xD.

So after all this... why do I keep writing in English? It's been four long years, I'm not about to give up at this point xD. I've put so much effort into making my writing better each day. It's hard to know if you're succeeding, simply because few people around you can read and critique you (and with critique I mean long and extensive ones). The internet helps with this, true, but I will repeat myself, it's not the same, and even then it's rare to find someone you can trust 250%. However, you can still find some help through forums and whatnot. 

This thing we do, writing in English as non-natives, is incredibly hard. To crack 1000 words we need a lot more time than a native needs. But it's okay. You're learning, you're practicing, that's the whole point. I can tell you without a hint of a doubt that it gets better, but you need to put a lot of effort into it, otherwise, you don't improve. If I compare my writing to the one I did a couple of years ago, there is a huge difference. I write a lot faster than I used to, and a lot better. Since last year, it's starting to come more natural, without the need for any translations. I still use the dictionary, but I'm starting to use it less and for synonyms rather than translations. 

You don't need to move abroad. You don't need special classes. If you surround yourself with English, if you practice, improvement comes. If you don't, then maybe you do need classes or moving abroad. I've needed years of practice to get where I am, but if you're committed to the cause, if you're passionate, you won't mind. I certainly don't. 

I'd say that you have to ask yourself an important question: is it worth it? Are you willing to spend years practicing? If you are, it comes with important rewards. Publishing in English is always better than any other language, you will reach a wider audience, no matter if you self-publish or not. In the end, that's what we, authors, want, to reach as many people as possible so they can experience the same journey we did while writing. Personally, I've experienced this first hand. I have translated into my native language some of my English short stories. The English versions ALWAYS got more comments and views than the Spanish ones. 

I know this got too long xD. The point I was trying to make is: you can improve at writing in English, no doubt about it, but you need time and MASSIVE amounts of reading in English. Once you've gotten used to it, it gets easier and rewarding. 

If I've done it, anyone can. Go for it!

I actually thought everyone forgot about this post, 
I have to thank you for the encouragement,


since I feel the same about it as you do, even if I would write only to myself, that's enough for me. and i have seen a lot of improvement in my writing, and I think that I could get to a native's level in a few years, and that's my plan (together with building my daily career to support my writing). 

And again, thank you for the encouragement.

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