Appendix A: Glossary of publishing terms and jargon
Note: This glossary covers approximately 150 general publishing terms and terms used only in children's book publishing. It has been revised for the third (2008) edition of The C. I. Guide to Publishing Children's Books. Entries designated with W appear only in this web version, not in the book. See some more information about the guide.
acquire--To make an agreement with an author to publish a book, through the acquisition process. Once the contract is signed by the author, the editor has made an acquisition.
acquiring or acquisitions editor--The editor involved in signing authors to write books. The acquisitions editor generally manages the manuscript as it comes into the publishing house and then passes it on to a development editor. These roles are usually combined at children's publishing companies.
acquisitions committee--See publishing committee. W
advance--Money paid by a publisher to an author or illustrator before the book goes on the market, in anticipation of sales. The advance is charged against royalties and must "earn out" before any royalties are paid.
agent--A well-connected professional who places your work with publishers, keeps track of your royalties, and perhaps provides career guidance in return for a percentage of your earnings.
ARC--An abbreviation for "advance reader copy." An ARC is a better-looking bound galley, sent in advance to booksellers and others, often looking like an attractive paperback, intended to generate interest in a book.
art director--A publishing staff person who works with illustrators, providing art direction--guidance to the illustrator as he or she works. This person might be the head of the art staff.
artist's representative--An agent for illustrators.
audience--The people for whom you are writing. In children's books, this can mean a specific age level.
author's representative--See agent.
backlist--Previously published books. A publisher's backlist is an important source of revenue, because backlist sales are more predictable and dependable than frontlist sales.
back matter--Supplementary material in the back of a book, such as a glossary, a recommended reading list, an index, or information about the book.
binding--What holds a book together. A trade hardcover binding is usually sewn and glued. A library binding is more durable, with cloth reinforcement and often a different sewing method. Paperbacks are usually bound with glue only.
bleed--Not what publishers do to artists and writers, bleed is a technical term referring to illustrations that extend off the edges of pages.
blues or bluelines--a printing, in blue only, from the final plates for a book. Usually only editors see these as a final check. If changes are needed, they have to be made to the film, which is expensive. Some publishers no longer use blues.
board books--A type of picture book, printed on paperboard, usually intended for infants and toddlers.
body--The main part of the text of a work, not including elements like the table of contents or index.
boilerplate--Standard language in a contract.
Bologna--Shorthand for the biggest international gathering of children's publishers, the Bologna Book Fair, held every April. Publishers go to buy from or sell rights to other publishers. W
book packager--See packager.
book plus--A book packaged with something else, such as a plush toy.
book proposal--Materials sent to a publisher to propose a book, including at least a description of the book or books, sample chapters, and an outline. W
bound galleys--An advance copy of a novel or nonfiction book, typeset but not proofread, and usually without the final form of the illustrations. It's usually bound as a paperback.
chains--Companies that own many individual bookstores. The two biggest in bookselling are Barnes & Noble and Borders. They contrast with the independents.
chapter books--Short books with chapters, a bridge between easy readers and true novels.
clip--Sample of an article you've written.
colophon--An item in a book's frontmatter that gives information about how it was produced, from typefaces to the kind of paint an artist used.
color proofs--Proofs used as a final check on the illustrations in a book before it goes to press.
commission--When doing work "on commission," the publisher hires you, tells you what to do, and usually pays a fee instead of royalties.
composition--The arrangement of the various elements (figures, objects, background) in an illustration. W
concept book-- A picture book that explores a concept instead of, or perhaps in addition to, telling a story.
conglomerate--A large company with many divisions, increasingly common in children's publishing. W
consolidation--The process of combining companies, closing overlapping divisions, and laying off staff. W
co-op money--Money a bookseller spends to promote a publisher's books, which is then reimbursed by the publisher.
copy editor--The person who reviews a manuscript for style, punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
copyright--Literally, the right to create and distribute copies of a creative work. Under copyright law, you hold a work's copyright from the moment you create it.
cover letter--The letter that accompanies your manuscript or art samples.
critique--A thoughtful, usually written evaluation of a manuscript, concentrating on problems of structure, tone, characterization, and the like.
designer--The person choosing type, doing layout, and otherwise settling the design of a book. Some illustrators do their own design work.
development editor--The editor who actually edits a book. See also acquisitions editor.
development house--See packager.
double-spaced--The preferred format for typing up a manuscript, referring to the amount of space between lines, not between words or sentences. W
draft--A version of a manuscript. The first draft is the first one written; the rough draft is an unpolished version; the final draft is the last one.
dummy--A manuscript laid out in book form, with sketches of all the illustrations and sample finished pieces.
early or easy readers--Books written with a controlled vocabulary for children who are learning to read.
earns out--To reach the point when the royalties on a book have paid back the advance paid to the author or illustrator.
e-book or ebook--A book that must be read in an electronic format, either on a personal computer or a handheld reader, instead of on paper.
editorial board--See publishing committee. W
endpapers--The sheets of paper in a hardcover book that attach the cover to the pages; these can be plain colored paper or have a design or illustration.
exclusive submission--A manuscript sent to only one publisher.
fair use--A limited exception to copyright law, allowing others to draw on or use excerpts from a copyrighted work without formal permission.
fairy tale--Like a folktale in form, but told specifically for children and with a more literary style.
fantasy--A type of fiction in which the rules of the world are different; animals talk, magic works, and strange creatures exist.
fiction--Writing from the imagination, or writing containing elements of imagination, fable, or tale. Also known as "lies," or "something you've made up."
film--What most books today are printed from.
flat fee--A payment made as the only compensation; the opposite of an advance against royalties.
flow-through clause--A nice clause to have in a contract, this clause obliges the publisher to pass on subsidiary rights payments when they are received, not when the next royalty statement happens.
folded and gathered (f&g's)--A sheet or sheets from a print run, folded, cut, and generally made ready for binding, but not bound. F&g's are often used as review copies for picture books.
folktale--A story, usually with a message, that has been passed down orally and may appeal to both adults and children.
Frankfurt--The site of the largest annual international publishing convention, held in the autumn. Like Bologna, but for all publishers. W
freelancer-- An independent contract worker who is employed by the publisher. This person doesn't work on salary or as a full-time employee for the publisher. Many writers find extra income by freelancing; children's publishers may send out design and copyediting work to freelancers. €
frontlist--The books a publisher is releasing this year or season: the new books.
frontmatter--The material placed before the body of a book, including such elements as the title and copyright pages, a table of contents, or an introduction.
galleys--Long pages of typeset text, not yet broken out into book pages, not much used today due to computerized typesetting and page layout.
genre--A specific category of story, such as fantasy or mystery.
glossary--You are reading one.
graphic novel--A novel published in comic-book format, laid out with text panels integrated into illustrations.
hardcover--A book produced with a hard, stiff outer cover, usually covered by a jacket. The covers are usually made of cardboard, over which is stretched cloth, treated paper, vinyl, or some other plastic.
historical fiction--Fiction in a historical setting, in which the main character, and often many others, are invented, while the setting and other details are based on careful research.
imprint--A part of a publisher with a distinct identity, name, and staff.
independents, the--Bookstores not owned by large companies, usually free-standing or having only a few branches. . The term can also apply to publishers not part of larger corporations.
index--An alphabetical list of topics and key words to be found in a book, with their page number locations.
informational book--See nonfiction.
institutional--One of the markets in children's publishing, named for the institutions the books are sold to--schools and libraries.
IRC (International Reply Coupon)--Good for postage anywhere in the world. Send one or more to a foreign publisher along with a self-addressed envelope for the response. W
ISBN (International Standard Book Number)--This number gives the book a unique ID, like your Social Security number, for orders and distribution. Recently expanded from 10 digits to 13, an ISBN also identifies the publisher and language of publication.
jacket--Short for "dust jacket," this is the paper cover on a book. Originally intended to keep it clean, it's now used as a way of catching the eye of the reader, via dramatic art and type.
journal--A blank book to write in whenever you can; not just for recording events, but for exploring ideas and jotting observations.
kill fee--A final payment made to an author or illustrator when their project is cancelled. W
layout--The arrangement of all the elements of a book's design, from text paragraphs and illustrations to chapter titles and page numbers.
license--The right to do something. In publishing, the right to publish a book or books, or to use something from one book in another product. An "audio license," for example, gives a company the right to produce an audio tape of a book.
line editing--Close, line-by-line editing of a book, concentrating on tone, style, flow, sequencing, clarity, and such matters.
list price--The price a publisher gives a book in their catalog and once the price at which it would be sold by bookstores; now used to calculate royalties based on list, even if the book is sold for less.
lists--Semi-annual (or more frequent) groups of books produced by a publisher, announced and placed in a catalog together. A publisher's list is simply the books it produces.
literary agent--See agent.
manuscript--A writer's work before it is typeset and printed; originally "hand written," as the word implies, now it is likely to be produced on a word processing program..
mass market--The kind of publisher who sells books through general retail outlets, usually with wide appeal and low prices.
middle grade--An age category roughly corresponding to the middle grades of school, perhaps the fourth through eighth grades, to which many of the classic children's novels belong.
midlist--Books with reliable but not outstanding sales--the ones in the middle of the list. W
model release--Written permission for the use of one's likeness in print. Needed if you take someone's picture for a book. W
ms./mss.--Short for manuscript or manuscripts.
multiple submission--Correctly used to mean sending more than one manuscript in one submission, but often used to mean a manuscript sent to two or more publishers at the same time.
net price--The price a publisher actually receives for a book.
net royalty--See royalty. W
niche publisher--A publisher who specializes in a subject of interest to a small group of people and sells its books nationally, but only in specialized outlets.
nonfiction--Also known as an "informational book," writing in which the author retells historical events, crafts a biography, passes on knowledge, or presents activities or experiments.
novelty book--Any book with features added to it beyond the binding and pages; for example, foldout pages, die-cut holes, lift-the-flaps, pop-ups, or sound chips.
on spec--Work done without a contract, in the hope that one will be forthcoming: "on speculation." W
one-time use--In a contract, allows for only one form of publication.
Out of print (OP or OOP)--The publisher has no copies of a book on hand and does not intend to reprint it.
option clause--An item in a contract granting a publisher the right to consider an author's next work. W
original expression--What copyright law protects: your own unique way of expressing an idea, telling a story, or creating a work of art.
orphaned book--A book left behind by an editor's departure from a publishing house; the book could have been published or be at any stage of publication. W
OSI--Out of stock indefinitely. The publisher has no copies of a book on hand, but might choose to reprint it in the future, so is not calling it out of print. If it did, it might be obligated to return the rights to the book to the author.
ozalids--Another term for blues, generally used by British publishers. W
packager--A company specializing in creating books up to the printing stage or the distribution stage; marketing and distributing the book is handled by the publisher. The packager's name may appear on the copyright page, but the publisher's appears on the spine.
page proof--Proofs laid out in page form; a later stage than galleys.
paperback--A binding with a soft cover, usually a light cardboard. A trade paperback is usually the same size as a hardcover book, and printed to the same standards. A mass-market paperback is usually smaller, designed to fit in a rack, and printed on cheaper paper.
pedantic--Describes a story in which the moral or message the author wants to teach overwhelms the plot.
permissions--Agreements from copyright holders granting the right to reproduce their work.
picture books--Books for younger children, which have pictures on every page and tell a story through words and pictures.
POD--See print on demand.
PP&B--Paper, printing, and binding. The cost of producing a finished book. W
press kit--A folder of materials about abook sent to the media to alert them to a book's release.
prewriting--The all-important work a writer does before actually starting to write. This can be as simple as jotting down ideas, as methodical as creating an outline, or as complex as doing character studies.
print-on-demand--A printing technology that allows 1, 10, or 50 copies of a book to be printed at a time, instead of a print run of thousands.
proofreader--The person who reviews the proofs for errors before a book goes to press.
proofs--The typeset pages of a book before it is printed.
pub. date--The publication date; the date when a publisher says a book will be available.
public domain--Not copyrighted, either because it never was or because the copyright has expired or lapsed; public domain material can be used without attribution or permission, although good writing practice means making a note of sources.
publishing committee--More traditionally known as the editorial board, this is the group that at some companies approves the acquisition of a book. W
query letter--A letter you send to a publisher to ask, or query, if they are interested in seeing your manuscript.
reading fees--Fees charged to read and comment on a manuscript. If charged by an agent to determine if he will represent you, not legitimate.
regional publisher--A publisher who specializes in subjects relevant to a particular part of the country, and sells its books mostly or entirely in that area.
rejection letter--A letter turning down a manuscript. If it is an unsigned photocopy, you've received a standard response. If personalized in any way, take this as a good sign. W
remainders--Surplus books sold at a steep discount. A pubisher may remainder a book and sell off all its stock when putting it out of print, or it may sell only some of its copies to reduce its stock.
response sheet--A feedback device, on which a writer lists certain ideas, devices, or grammatical points for the audience/editor to consider.
response time--The time it takes a publisher to reply to a submission, usually measured in months.
returns--Books sent back to a publisher. Unlike many other businesses, retailers can usually return books for a full refund. Returns often come back several months after a book is published.
review copies--Copies of a book sent to reviewers, usually before publication, and often in the form of bound galleys or f&g's.
revise--Literally to "re-see"; to rewrite, perhaps making extensive changes. Often, when a new edition of a book comes out, the author has revised the previous edition.
rights--The many different ways a book can be licensed, ranging from book club rights to movie rights and even theme park rights. Also called subsidiary rights.
royalty--Money paid to an author by a publisher on the basis of books sold. It may be a percentage of the list price, the price for which the book supposedly will be sold to a consumer; or of the net price, which is what the publisher actually receives (often 40 percent to 50 percent less than the net price).
sales rep--short for sales representative. An individual who represents a publisher to a potential customer, such as a bookstore or wholesaler. The sales rep can be a house rep, hired by the publisher; or a commissioned rep, independent, and paid a commission for every book sold.
SASE--A self-addressed, stamped envelope, included with all submissions and query letters for return of manuscript or response. When soliciting publishers to publish your work, you should include a SASE.
self-publish--An individual doing everything a publisher does, from editing to printing and distribution.
series--A number of books that are related to each other in terms of theme, purpose, characters, style, or content, or all of these things. Series are often given special titles that encompass each of the books in the series; for example, "The Complete Idiot's Guide" is a series of books. These books are geared toward a specific audience (not idiots, of course).
signature--Groups of pages, based on the smallest number of pages a particular printing machine can print on a sheet of paper; many books are printed on sheeets that take 8 or 16 or some other number of pages. When folded and cut, each sheet forms a signature.
simultaneous submission--Sending the same manuscript to more than one publisher at the same time.
slush pile--The unsolicited manuscripts that a publisher receives from writers who aren't represented by agents.
special sales--Sales of a book to nontraditional outlets, such as gift stores, or for use as premiums. For example, a publisher might sell 10,000 units (books) to a corporation that wants to distribute the books to employees of the corporation.
spine--The center panel of the binding of a book, which connects the front and back cover to the pages and faces out when the book is shelved.
SRO--School Rights Only: The rights you want to transfer to a textbook publisher, instead of granting them all rights. W
storyboard--An illustrator's plan for a book, showing every page at much reduced size, ideally all on one sheet of paper.
structural editing--Editing involving the structure of a manuscript, usually done at an early stage. May also be called substantive editing.
subsidiary rights--See rights.
submissions--Manuscripts sent to a publisher by an author or agent. Submissions can be exclusive, multiple, or simultaneous.
subsidy publisher--See vanity press.
superstore--Regarding bookstores, a large store with 100,000 or more titles, a coffee shop, and other amenities.
tear sheets--Originally samples of an illustrator's work, torn out of a magazine or other source. Now can also be a photocopy of such a sample.
teen--A label for books for teenagers, typically published in paperback, often in series, and bought by them in bookstores.
thumbnails--Small, rough sketches done by an artist before full-size sketches, which may be literally not much bigger than thumbnail size.
trade--The kind of publisher who sells books to bookstores, and also to some extent to libraries.
transparencies--Photographs or art on transparent material (like slides) rather than on opaque material. W
trim size--The horizontal and vertical dimensions of a book. A book with an 8-by-10-inch trim size is 8 inches across and 10 inches high. A hardcover book has covers that extend beyond the pages, so book size and trim size aren't always the same.
tween--A recently coined term for books for pre-teens, roughly equal to middle grade, applied to books children buy for themselves.
unsolicited submission/manuscript--A manuscript that a publisher did not solicit, or ask for, from an author.
vanity press--A company the author pays to publish a book, rather than the other way around. The name comes from the fact that such publishers rely on the vanity of people who want to see their words in print and are willing to pay for this service.
work-for-hire--Work done for a publisher to their specifications, usually paid for with a fee and often involving signing over copyright to the publisher.
young adult (YA)--The upper end of the age range covered by children's publishers, possibly starting at age 12. A separate YA category did not exist until the 1960s.