Publishing Terms

You need to speak the Language in the publishing industry so you can understand what the heck everyone is talking about. Here is a cheat sheet.

“AAP” Association of American Publishers. The industry association of book publishers, primarily the larger ones.

“Advance” Money’s paid to the author prior to publication. These days, it is common for advances to be given as royalties, based on the number of advanced copies that were sold.

“Agent” I’m sure you know what a Literary Agent does, just make sure everything is in writing. The agent usually receives 10% or sometimes 15%.

“Back-list” Titles that have been published previously to the current season and continue to sell sufficient copies to keep the book in print.

“Content Editing” This is the editing of only the content of a manuscript, not the grammar, done usually by an author or someone in the publishing industry. Examples of content editing are characters, plot, events, chapter size, point of view, flow, pace, interest, and clarity.

“Cooperative Advertising” Ad’s run by a bookstore in which part of the cost is paid by the publisher. This is an important means of getting stock into a bookstore and announcing the availability of the book to the public.

“Copy-editing” Careful review of a manuscript prior to publication by an expert in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and clarity.

“Copyright” Property right posed by the author once the work is fixed in a tangible form. (Typed, handwritten, filmed, etc…) Copyright does not protect the “ideas,” only the authors particular expression of those ideas.

“EL-HI” The educational market covering elementary grades (Kindergarten-8th grade) and high school.

“Fair Use” The right for an author, under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, to use materials, published or unpublished, in a carefully restricted manner without permission of the copyright holder. (This is so authors can use information and resources as references for their books.)

“Foreign Rights” The rights owned by the author, which can be conveyed by the publisher in writing, to publish his/her book outside the United States, either on his/her own or through a license with a foreign publisher.

“Galley” Refers to the proof of the manuscript. (It’s all typed out!)

“Imprint” Name of a publisher shown on the spine of the book, jacket, and title page.

“List” A catalog list of the publishers books.

“LMP” Literary Market Place. The annual directory of the entire publishing industry.

“Manager” A marketing professional that works with the author to brand his/her name and build a following for the author. Manager’s also advise on all aspects of publishing, writing, and promotions.

“Mass Market” This is an estimated one hundred thousand retail outlets that are not traditional bookstores. Examples are: supermarkets, drugstores, warehouse outlets, and Target!

“Option” A commitment that the current publisher can acquire a subsequent book of an author, prior to that manuscript being made available to competing publishers.

“OP” Out Print. Refers to those books that are out of print and no longer available in publishers stock.

“Publicity” Cooperating advertising by the publisher, for the author, to make the public aware of the author’s book. This can be done in many ways, such as author tours, book signings, posters, review copy mailings, catalogs, and advertising in media outlets.

“PW” Publishers Weekly. A weekly indusrty trade publication. This is essential for authors. (Available in most libraries.)

“Remainders” Books that the publisher cannot sell at full price, as long as stock remains. The retailer will offer to the public at a fraction of the regular selling price. Reasons for this is because the book was unsuccessful at full price, or it is a way to give the consumers a good value, or the publisher would like the book to stay in print for a longer period of time.

“Reprint” A new printing of the book by the original publisher or a licensed publisher.

“Reserve” An accounting procedure used by publishers to cover an expense in case the author’s books are returned.

“Returns” Books that are unsold and returned by the retailer or wholesaler to the publisher.

“Review Copy” Free copies sent to established book reviewers for newspaper and magazines.

“Royalties” The amount received by an author based upon sales of his/her book. Earned royalties must surpass the advance given to the author, before the author receives additional royalty payments.

“Serialization” This is when magazines or newspapers condense a book or select important sections of the book and publish them. If this is done prior to the book’s release, the author receives 90% of the income. A Second Serialization is when this has been done after the book’s release, in which case the author would receive 50% of the income.

“Slush Pile” Also known as Unsolicited Manuscript. A manuscript sent to the publisher on by the author on their own, not through an agent and without invitation from the publisher. These manuscripts usually end up in the Slush Pile, which is a pile of query letters or books the publisher will read when they have time. This is also known as “over the transom.”

“Subsidiary Rights” These are rights derived from the literary work and owned by the author. If the publisher owns just the rights to the hardcover, this means the author owns the subsidiary rights to everything else. (Paperback, foreign sales, translation, book club publication, movie/TV, etc…)

“Trade Books” Books created primarily for the general reader to be sold in bookstores.

“Author” A writer of books and the originator of ideas and events.

Ron Knight

Author of “2-10”

Novelist, Reader, Co-Founder of UP Authors

Manager: Melissa Link


Ron Knight

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