Dear Bundt Boss:
Books aren’t one-size-fits-all. Whichever market you make a play for, a book must meet the audience’s distinct expectations and quirks. U.S. publishers generally believe their readers don’t want to read about characters who live and adventure outside U.S. borders. An exception would be a novel with the “American abroad” theme, like Anna and the French Kiss. (We’ll ignore Harry Potter, which defies most assumptions.) If your mystery takes place in the U.K., with British characters, you’ll encounter resistance with U.S. publishers. Can and are you willing to set your mystery in the U.S., or make your main character an American Abroad? With Brexit injecting uncertainty, I admire your interest in thinking out of the box. Have you got other tricks up your sleeve to adapt this for U.S. readers? Committing to the U.S. teen fiction market may require substantial adjustments.
Hey, Bundt Boss! There is one other option. Get a recent copy of USA-focused books such as Writer’s Market, especially in a genre you write in. Scour them for any mention of wanting UK books. If you find a publisher that looks like they MIGHT take such a book, write them and ask. What’s the worst you’ll get for asking? Is it worth it (to you) to do the research? If so, give it a shot. I would love to work with a UK story, myself, but that’s because I’ve worked with a couple of UK authors in the past.
Probably one of the biggest reasons we tend to pass on UK stories is the lack of ability for an editor to verify certain words or locations without spending a lot of time doing research. If you get a possible hit, make sure your work is very well edited and any historical/current information (including word choices and product existence) is accurate to the time it is written. That will help you a lot. You will probably have to conform to American English punctuation rules, but those vary by publisher, also. Do your research, if you are serious about publishing UK stuff in the USA. Good luck!
Agent Ginger Clarke gives a very useful interview about the UK book market and the affects of Brexit uncertainty to Publishers Weekly: http://bit.ly/2AoyPK6. Ginger is on the International Committee of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.