Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Publishing Terms

I love Twitter. Not only is it a brilliant distraction when you're facing 200 pages of editing, but it also provides interesting little tidbits from sources around the world. Today I found this, courtesy of agent Janet Reid.

These are my favourite bits.

ADVANCE: A secret code signalling to the marketing department whether or not to promote a title.

AGENT: An intellectual property and contract law specialist who is unable to pass the bar.

AUTHOR: A large class of individuals (approximately three times as numerous as readers) serving a promotional function in book marketing or providing make-work for editorial interns.

AUTHOR BIO: A piece of creative writing whose length varies inversely with the attractiveness of the person depicted in the AUTHOR PHOTO.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Pictorial fiction. Authors always choose photos that emphasize that quality in which they feel most deficient.

AUTHOR’S DISCOUNT: A penalty charged authors who are unable to wheedle sufficient masses of free copies, purportedly for the purpose of promotion, from their editors.


BOOK DISTRIBUTION: An elaborate system testing the commitment of readers by making sure they cannot obtain specific books too easily.

BOOK REVIEW: A recycled press release offered to publishers by newspaper and magazine sales departments as an inducement to advertising.


COMMERCIAL FICTION: The notion of publishing as a way of making money.

COMP COPIES: A publisher’s entire inventory, according to the urgings of his friends and colleagues.

COPY EDITING: A phase of publishing that requires little or no budget, is considered of slight importance, and may be omitted at the option of the publisher.

COPYRIGHT: A concept invented by lawyers as a hedge against unemployment.


DEADLINE: An item that exists to be renegotiated and revised. In his famous paradox, the Greek philosopher Zeno proved that deadlines can never be met.


EDITOR: A writer with a day job.


FANTASY: An author's sales aspirations.

FOREIGN MARKET: The part of the country outside New York City.

FOREWORD: A blurb that is placed between the covers of the book to compensate for an unmarketable author.

FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR: An annual international exhibition of artwork on paper.


MAINSTREAM FICTION: The pretense that there is a group of readers who can be reached through writing that is sufficiently unspecific as to exclude no one.


NOVELLA: A short story that has not been edited.



PRINTER'S ERROR (PE): An error made before a book goes to print.

PUBLICATION DATE (PUB DATE): A sliding holiday based on the phases of the moon.


REJECTION LETTER (FORM): A condensed restraining order serving to justify requests for SASEs.

REJECTION LETTER (PERSONAL): A formulaic literary genre, premised on justifying not reading or misreading a manuscript, in which the narrator grossly exposes both deep character flaws and an absolute blindness to them.

ROYALTY: The glamorous heads of large publishing houses, also known as GLITERATI.


SALES REP: A roaming bookstore employee retained as a buffer against publishers and authors.


SHELF LIFE: Bookworms.

SHORT STORY: A story that is seldom short enough.

SPINE: Once an essential aspect of any book, spines are no longer found in the publishing industry.


UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY: A biography in which there is no trace of original writing by an author.

UNIVERSITY PRESS: A business predicated on obtaining materials from scholars without compensating them in order to sell the same materials at high prices to scholars.

UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPT: A manuscript that can’t sell because it includes too few salacious solicitations.


WORK-FOR-HIRE: Migrant labor.

WRONG FONT: Comic Sans.

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