The following is a collection of publishing-related words, organizations, and companies involved in books and publishing, as well as those you might come across on your publishing journey.
80/20 rule—a guideline to follow when creating content, such as on blogs or social media, that states that 80% of your posts should be useful to your audience (meaning the post should educate, entertain, or offer solutions) while 20% should be promotional.
ACX—See Audiobook Creation Exchange.
advance—an upfront payment made to an author before a book is published. The author must earn back the advance in sales before any royalties are paid. See also royalty.
advance reader copy (ARC)—a pre-published version of a book sent to advance readers prior to its official release date in order to build early buzz and collect professional reviews and/or testimonials to place on the book cover or use in marketing. Called also advanced reader copy, advanced review copy.
advance reader—an individual such as a reviewer and or wholesale book buyer who is provided the book prior to its official release date in order to build early buzz, increase sales, and collect professional reviews and/or testimonials to place on the book cover or use in marketing. Called also advanced reader.
AMA Manual of Style, The—the American Medical Association’s style guide, which is used for publications such as journals or reference books in medicine, health, and other life sciences. See also Associated Press Stylebook, Chicago Manual of Style.
Amazon Ads—Amazon services available to their sellers to promote and advertise their products. Previously known as Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), which is how some sources still refer to it.
AMS—See Amazon Ads.
ARC—See advance reader copy.
Associated Press Stylebook, The—a grammar, style, and usage guide that sets the standard for spelling, punctuation, and formatting in journalism and news writing, such as magazines and newspapers; often referred to as the AP Style Guide. See also AMA Manual of Style, Chicago Manual of Style.
Audible—an Amazon company that sells audiobooks. See also Audiobook Creation Exchange.
Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX)—an Amazon-owned marketplace for narrators, recording engineers, and other audiobook professionals to offer their services, and for authors, agents, and publishers to create and release audiobooks on Audible.
author copies—final printed copies of a book charged to the author at a cheaper rate than the retail price so they can be sold directly from the author’s website, used for giveaways, or other promotional purposes.
author’s note—See preface.
author tour—See book tour.
back flap—the part of a dust jacket printed for a hardcover that wraps around the rear of the book’s hard casing and that typically has the author’s bio and photo or spillover copy from the front flap. Called also back panel. See also front flap.
back panel—See back flap.
bad break—when a word is incorrectly hyphenated (broken) during the interior formatting of the manuscript. Breaking the word modernity as mode-rnity is a bad break.
bastard title—See half-title page.
beta reader—an individual, usually nonprofessional, who provides feedback on a near-final draft of the book, at a stage when the author is still open to making changes. See also expert reader, peer reviewed, sensitivity reader.
bibliography—a list of the books and/or articles used as reference material when writing a book.
binding—the physical material used to join together the different parts of a book, such as the cover and pages. Although the most popular types of binding are case or sewn (for hardcover) or glue (paperback), spiral binding and saddle stitch (brochures) are also used.
BISAC code—a nine-character alphanumeric code that indicates to book retailers, distributors, and librarians which categories (and subcategories) an author’s book belongs in.
blank—a page intentionally left empty but that is included in the book’s final page count. Let’s add a blank at the beginning of the book so that you have a place to sign at book signings.
bleed—a printing term used to indicate if a book’s interior or cover will have content (such as images, graphics, or color) extend past where the printer will trim the book after printing.
blog—a website or section thereof consisting of informally written, regularly published posts that showcase the author’s or authors’ viewpoints, ideas, knowledge, or commentary. The term is a shortening of “weblog.”
blurb—1. a short piece of copy, usually taken from a review or testimonials, that is used to promote a book, such as on the back cover or in ads. 2. to provide a testimonial of a book or an author. Stephen King said he would blurb my book!
board—the thick cardboard used for certain types of book printing, such as children’s picture books or the material under the dust jacket of a hardcover.
body—See main matter.
book proposal—a document that includes an overview of the book, an author biography, competitive research on comparable titles, marketing strategies, chapter outline, table of contents, and one or two sample chapters, as well as anything else an author feels is pertinent to pique the interest of agents and publishers.
book tour—a promotional activity meant to promote an author’s newly published title, in which the author plans a series of events, usually consisting of talks, readings, and interviews, to sell books and meet readers.
book trailer—a marketing video that promotes the book in the same way that a movie trailer promotes a film.
Bowker—the official ISBN agency for the United States.
C1S—a term for printing that stands for “coated one side,” meaning the coating selected (matte or glossy) is applied to only one side of the paper. We can print your paperback book cover in full color, C1S.
case binding—a bookbinding method that creates a hard cover to protect a book’s pages and spine. Called also case wrap.
case wrap—See case binding.
cataloging in publication (CIP) record—a bibliographic record prepared by the Library of Congress for an as-yet unpublished book that is included on the book’s copyright page once published so that places like libraries can process the book in their system. Called also CIP Data Block.
center spread—the pair of facing pages in the center of a book that often contains special content, such as photos.
chapbook—a published book, most often of poetry, that is typically 40-60 pages and often of lower production quality than a traditional paperback or hardcover book.
chapter head—the content that comprises the start of a chapter, such as the chapter number and title, an illustration, or a quote. Chapter heads often appear only on recto pages.
character sheet—a document used to track character facts and traits to maintain consistency throughout the manuscript.
Chicago Manual of Style, The—a grammar, style, and usage guide that sets the standard for spelling, punctuation, and formatting in books, corporate materials, and some scientific publications. See also AMA Manual of Style, AP Stylebook.
CIP—See cataloging in publication record.
clean copy—a copy of an author’s manuscript with all edits incorporated and notations removed. My publicist asked for a clean copy of the manuscript to review.
click-through rate (CTR)—a measure of the performance of a link, such as an ad or CTA, calculated by dividing the number of clicks that an ad receives by the number of times it is shown. An ad that has two clicks and 100 impressions would have a CTR of 2%.
cloth—the material stretched around the board that a hardcover book’s dust jacket is wrapped around. The cloth is typically linen and can often be printed on, embossed, or stamped with the book’s title and/or author’s name.
CMS—See content management system.
CMYK—a printing process that uses four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) that is often required for all-color printing. Called also four-color printing. See also Pantone Matching System.
coated one side—See C1S.
co-author—any of the multiple credited authors of a manuscript.
coil binding—See spiral binding.
colophon—a brief statement in a book noting the type of font used in the book, the name of the printer and/or publisher, the publisher’s logo, and the date of printing; typically placed on the last page of the back matter.
color printing—a printing option that allows authors to produce a book (or a portion of it) in full color rather than black-and-white.
concordance—an alphabetical list of the most important words and phrases in a text, usually in context as to how the word appears in the manuscript.
content management system (CMS)—software that allows for the creation and organization of digital content, such as for a blog.
cooperative publishing—See subsidy publishing.
copy—the text of a manuscript.
copyeditor—an editor who checks for issues with sentence structure, grammar, and consistency in punctuation and formatting, and who sometimes fact-checks. See also developmental editor, line editor, proofreader.
copyright infringement—the unauthorized use of a copyrighted work.
copyright notice—the section of a book’s copyright page that states the copyright owner and the date of copyright.
creative brief—a document that provides information to a designer or other creative to guide them on a project.
cross-reference—a note or notation in the text that directs the reader to another section of the document.
CTA—See call to action.
CTR—See click-through rate.
dedication—a statement in a book’s front matter that shows the author’s appreciation, affection, or respect for a person or entity.
developmental editor—an editor who evaluates, critiques, guides, and sometimes helps shape a manuscript, most often during its early stage. Called also substantive editor. See also copyeditor, line editor, proofreader.
digital assets—everything on the web that an author owns and/or controls (e.g., website, blog, social media handles, logins, etc.).
digital printing—a printing method, used for short-run book printing and print-on-demand publishing, that employs a laser or inkjet printer to print straight from a computer file. See also offset printing.
Digital Text Platform—See Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
distributor—a company or individual responsible for selling books into bookstores and other retailers, online and off.
domain name—the core part of a website address, under which all the site pages reside. Our website’s domain name is bookagogo.com.
DPI—See dots per inch.
drop cap/dropcap—See dropped capital.
EAN—See European Article Number.
earn out—to bring in profits equal to the book advance so that the author begins to collect royalties.
elevator pitch—a short synopsis of a book used for sales and marketing; so named because it can be stated during an elevator ride.
endpaper— See endsheet.
endsheet—a page, thicker than those of the rest of the book, that is glued to the inside of the front and back covers of a case-bound hardcover book. Called also endpaper.
epigraph—a short quote, poem, or statement placed at the beginning of a book, usually on its own page.
epilogue—a part of the manuscript often used to tie up loose ends or provide concluding thoughts.
EPK—an electronic (digital) press kit.
.epub—a computer file format for e-books that is compatible with most e-readers, smartphones, tablets, and computers. See also .mobi.
e-reader—a device that allows for the reading of e-books.
errors and omissions insurance—a type of insurance used to protect an author or publisher from being sued in the case of a problem with the manuscript, such as plagiarism or copyright infringement; sometimes referred to as professional liability insurance, although the two sometimes differ.
European Article Number (EAN)—a standard barcode and numbering system, similar to a UPC (universal product code), used to identify unique products at point of sale and their country of origin. For books, a prefix of 978 is used so that the EAN is the same as the ISBN.
evergreen—used to describe content that is accurate and relevant regardless of the publication date. He was born in 1984 is evergreen, while He is twenty years old is not.
expert reader—an individual who has a personal connection to or professional expertise in a book’s subject matter and who can thus provide specialized feedback on a manuscript before publication. See also beta reader, peer reviewed, sensitivity reader.
fair use—a legal doctrine that allows for limited use of copyrighted material without permission under certain circumstances.
favicon—a small symbol that represents a website on a browser tab.
flap copy—written content on the part of the dust jacket that gets folded inside of the book.
foil—1. a printing option for adding metallic material to a surface, such as a book jacket. 2. a character in a narrative who acts as a contrasting figure, often to the protagonist.
folio—the page number on a book page.
four-color printing—See CMYK.
front panel—See front flap.
front matter—the beginning sections of a book that precede the main matter and that typically consist of promotional and legal details, and sometimes longer introductory material, usually written by someone other than the author. See also back matter.
fulfillment—the process of delivering books to retail customers.
galley—See advance reader copy.
ghostwriter—the writer, usually anonymous, of a manuscript that gets credited to someone else.
glossary—a collection of the definitions of important words and terms from a manuscript, usually included in the back matter.
glue binding—a bookbinding method, used mainly with paperback books, in which the interior pages are gathered together and glued into the spine of the cover, such that the pages and cover are bound together through the adhesive. See also sewn binding, saddle stitch, Smythe sewnSmythe sewn, spiral binding.
gutter—the inner margin of a book.
head—See running header.
homepage—the main page of a website.
hybrid publishing—a cross between traditional and self-publishing in which the author is responsible for the upfront publishing costs while the hybrid publisher handles the tasks of design, printing, and distribution. See also self-publishing, subsidy publishing, traditional publishing, vanity publishing.
imprint—the trade name under which a publisher publishes a book. Many traditional publishershave several imprints, each catering to a specific demographic. An example of an imprint is Ladybird Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, which publishes mass-market children’s books.
index—a key to a book, found in the back matter, that identifies the pages of each occurrence of a topic.
informational social influence—See social proof.
IngramSpark—an online self-publishing company that allows authors to print and distribute their books to the websites of all major book retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, etc.
International Standard Book Number (ISBN)—a unique numeric identifier for a book, purchased from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.
introduction—a section of the book, often written by the author, that presents the main matter. If the introduction is critical to the reader understanding the book’s content, the section is included in the main matter. If the introduction is written by somebody else and/or presents the background story of the topic, the introduction goes in the front matter.
ISBN—See International Standard Book Number.
jacket—See dust jacket.
KDP—See Kindle Direct Publishing.
kerning—the spacing between individual letters and/or words. See also leading.
keyword—a word or phrase used to categorize online content.
Kindle—Amazon’s proprietary e-reader, which uses the .mobi file format.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)—Amazon’s self-publishing service; originally called Digital Text Platform.
layout—how the content of a book is designed, including the spacing, fonts, placement of photos, chapter heads, etc.
launch—the overarching book release strategy, which may include marketing, PR, book tours, virtual appearances, etc. Also sometimes called a release, although there are subtle differences. See also release date.
LCCN—See Library of Congress Control Number.
leading—the vertical space between lines of text. See also kerning.
libel—defamation in a physical form, such as in text or images, that is injurious to the individual. See also slander.
Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)—a number that acts as a unique identifier for the U.S. Library of Congress.
limited edition—a version of a book produced in a small quantity, usually fewer than 1,000 copies, and not printed again.
line editor—an editor who focuses on a manuscript’s use of language, such as whether the writing is clear and applicable to the intended audience, and who ensures that the copy flows and makes for an enjoyable read. See also copyeditor, developmental editor, proofreader.
list price—See retail price.
manuscript—the original, unpublished copy of a book, often just the main matter.
manuscript critique—a professional assessment of a manuscript’s most important elements: plot, character development, and pacing.
mass-market paperback (MMPB)—a mass-produced version of a book, often printed at a lower quality and in a smaller size than the hardcover or trade paperback versions.
media kit—a package of information, photos, and/or videos provided to the media for use in promoting a brand or product, such as a book. See also press kit.
MMPB—See mass-market paperback.
.mobi—a computer file format specific to Kindle e-readers. See also .epub.
mockup—a preliminary design, such as for a book cover.
model release—a contract that grants permission to use an individual’s likeness in a work such as a video or photograph.
narrative arc—the progression of a story, usually consisting of a setup, confrontation, and resolution.
NDA—See non-disclosure agreement.
nom de plume—See pseudonym.
offset printing—a printing process, used by all major traditional publishers, that utilizes large ink rollers to transfer a book’s image to paper in mass quantities.
on submission/on sub—being shopped around to publishers. My agent has had my manuscript on sub for the last six months.
option—1. a clause in an author’s publishing agreement that gives the publishing house the right of first refusal on the author’s next work. 2. the right, but not the obligation, to dramatize a book or script within a given time frame, after which the option expires and the work can be optioned by another party.
orphan—a single word on its own line at the bottom of a paragraph. See also widow.
page depth—See depth.
pass—1. a cover-to-cover read of a manuscript. The proofreader needed two passes of the galley to ensure all errors were caught. 2. a polite way of saying a manuscript has been rejected. The publisher passed on my second novel.
pen name—See pseudonym.
perfect binding—a bookbinding method in which the cover and pages are printed, glued together on the spine, and then edges trimmed perfectly to give the book sharp, even edges. This is the most common printing style for paperback books.
permissions editor—a professional who specializes in tracking down and negotiating with copyright holders to obtain the proper legal documentation to use a copyrighted work.
plate—a metal device used in offset printing to transfer the contents of a book onto paper.
PLR—See private label rights.
PMS—See Pantone Matching System.
POD—See print on demand.
preface—an optional part of the front matter that contains an author’s note to the reader, such as how the book came about or the inspiration behind a particular character. Although “preface” is the standard industry term for this section, some authors retitle this section as “Author’s Note,” “A Note from the Author,” or “An Invitation From the Author” to entice readers.
press check—an on-site proofing which can sometimes be performed at local print shops, and allows an author to ensure color accuracy as well as perform a last minute review of the project before all copies print.
press kit—a type of media kit that contains information for more immediate coverage, such as a special event or breaking news. See also media kit.
print on demand—a printing process in which a book is produced only a copy is ordered. See also offset printing.
private label rights (PLR)—a work sold with the purpose of the buyer branding it as their own. PLR documents are frequently used as website freebies, despite the often low-quality of the content and presentation.
prologue—an optional part of the manuscript’s main body that serves as a way to advance the storyline, provide key background information, or tantalize the reader for the rest of the book. Prologues are most often used in works that follow a narrative arc, such as novels, biographies, and memoirs, and so are rarely used in nonfiction.
proofreader/design proofreader—an editorial professional who reviews a manuscript for issues such as missing words, typos, and punctuation mistakes; a design proofreader looks specifically for design-related issues, such as page numbers and consistency in formatting. See also developmental editor, copyeditor, line editor.
query letter—a formal letter sent from an author and/or agent to publishing houses to propose a book idea.
reading line—text on a book cover that is not part of the title and that is intended to explain the book’s contents. One of the most common reading lines is “A Novel.”
redlining—a method of tracking changes between each version of an author’s manuscript, particularly between members of the editorial team.
release date—a date or short window of dates when a book is first available for sale. My book will be released for purchase on Nov. 1, 2023. See also launch.
revised edition—an edition of a book that includes major revisions, by either the author or editor, such as additional chapters, supplementary materials, or revised and updated copy. See also reprint.
rights reserved notice—a required element to any copyright page, typically placed underneath or beside the copyright notice, that serves to let readers know your work is protected. The most common rights reserved notice is “All rights reserved.”
ROFR—See right of first refusal.
ROI—See return on investment.
running footer—the repeated bottom part of a book’s page that displays information not included in the running header.
saddle stitching—a relatively quick and cost-effective, though uncommon, bookbinding method that involves stapling full sheets of paper together in the center, then folding the cover along the line of the staple. See also glue binding, sewn binding, Smythe sewnSmythe sewn, spiral binding
self-publishing—a publishing process in which the author pays for all costs related to the publication of a book and retains all copyright ownership. See also hybrid publishing, subsidy publishing, traditional publishing, vanity publishing.
self-publishing expert—an individual or company who helps authors navigate the self-publishing process.
SEO—See search engine optimization.
sewn binding—a usually expensive method of bookbinding in which pages are arranged in groups of 16 to 24 then sewn individually along the folds. See also glue binding, saddle stitch, Smythe sewnSmythe sewn, spiral binding
slander—defamation in an oral form, such as on the radio or television, that is injurious to the individual. See also libel.
spine—the long, thin middle of a book’s binding that joins the front and back covers and that contains the title and, usually, author name and publisher.
spiral binding—a bookbinding method that uses a spiral wire or plastic coil to fasten all pages together to the front and back cover. Called also coil binding. See also glue binding, saddle stitch, sewn binding, Smythe sewnSmythe sewn.
stack—the appearance in copy of the same word directly above or below itself.
standard trim—the industry standard size of a hardcover or paperback book once cut and bound by a printer; for paperback, the standard trim is 5.5”x8.5”, while hardcover is 6”x9”.
style guide—1. a grammar, style, and usage manual that sets standards for spelling, punctuation, and formatting. The most common style guides are The Chicago Manual of Style, AP Stylebook, and The AMA Manual of Style. 2. a document that contains a style sheet and which may also contain branding information, such as Pantone colors, font faces, etc.
style sheet—a document used to keep track of any deviations from the master style guide (for books, usually The Chicago Manual of Style), such as spelling of character names or a preferred way to format a word (e.g., t-shirt vs. T-shirt vs. tee shirt). See also The AMA Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook.
subsidy publishing—a publishing process similar to self-publishing in that the author pays for the publication of the book and the publisher distributes it under its own imprint but with the difference that the publisher, not the author, retains copyright ownership while the author receives royalties. Called also cooperative publishing. See also hybrid publishing, self-publishing, traditional publishing, vanity publishing.
substantive editor—See developmental editor.
table of contents—a directory in a book’s front matter that details the names and page numbers of the book’s sections.
thumbnail—a smaller version of an image; for books, this is typically the cover shown in search results.
trade name—See imprint.
trade paperback—a mass-produced version of a book, often printed at a higher quality and in a larger size than the mass-market paperback.
trade publisher—a publisher that produces books of general interest to be sold through regular retail channels such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
traditional publishing—the process by which a book is produced through an established company that purchases the rights to a book, handles the printing and distribution processes, and, in turn, pays royalties to the author. See also hybrid publishing, self-publishing, subsidy publishing, vanity publishing.
trim size—the actual size of a book’s page once it has been cut to be bound.
typesetting—the manual process of arranging type on a page to make it ready for print. Although the term is now considered antiquated, some book designers still use it to refer to the process of designing the word-based portion of a book’s layout.
UI—See user interface.
URL—See Uniform Resource Locator.
UX—See user experience.
vanity publisher—a company paid to publish an author’s work, often with few or no other services that provide quality control. The term was traditionally used interchangeably with self-publishing until the latter gained more credibility. Today, it is still sometimes used interchangeably with subsidy publishing, although an author usually retains the rights with a vanity publisher. See also hybrid publishing, self-publishing, subsidy publishing, traditional publishing.
verso—the left-hand page of a book. See also recto.
virtual book tour—a virtual version of a traditional book tour, involving an author booking appearances with bloggers, podcasts, and webinars to promote their title.
widow—a single line of text that appears at the top of a column. See also orphan.
work for hire—a work created explicitly so that a third party, not the creator, is the owner.
working title—the temporary title for a book until a final one has been chosen.