A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


AA/AC: author’s alteration /correction.

Acknowledgements: part of the prelim pages where thanks and special permissions are recognized.

Acquisition: When a publisher purchases the rights to publish a book.

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 is repaid by an “earn out” before any royalties are paid.

Advance Copies:  (see galleys) republication edition of the book, generally used to generate reviews and publicity; also known as ARCs.

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.

App: Small Application or program, normally on a portable device like a phone.

Appendix, appendices: Supplementary material to a text which is inserted as a section at the end of the main text

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.

Artwork: Original photos and illustrations including copy.

Audience: The people for whom you are writing. In children’s books, this can mean a specific age level.

Author’s representative: See agent.

Authorized:  Written with the subject’s consent.

Autobiography: A person’s life story written by the person himself/herself.

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Back lining: A strip of paper, linen or gauze glued to the spine of a traditionally bound book to give strength

Backlist: Previously published books. A publisher’s backlist is an important source of revenue, because backlist sales are more predictable and dependable than front-list sales.

Back matter: Supplementary material in the back of a book, such as a glossary, recommended reading lists, an index, or information about the book.

Banner: title extending across page width.

Bar code: Machine readable code printed on products.

Binding: What holds a book together. A trade 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.

Blog: Diary-style personal website.

Blow up: an enlargement.

Blues or bluelines: a printing, in blue only, from the final plates for a book. This is usually seen only by editors and constitutes a final check. If changes are needed, they have to be made to the film, which is expensive.

Blurbs: Endorsements of the book by well known writers or celebrities (cover quotes).  Often these appear on the book jacket.

Board books: Short, thick, square-shaped (usually) simple books 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.

Book Doctor:  Someone hired by the author or publishing house to improve a manuscript.

Book packager: See packager.

Book plus: A book sold 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.

Border: Design surrounding printing on a page.

Broadside: Printed on one side of a large sheet of paper.

Bound galleys: An advance copy of a novel or nonfiction book, typeset but not proofread, and usually without the final form of the illustrations. Usually bound as a paperback.

By-line: The name of the writer or photographer printed with a magazine or newspaper article.

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Calligraphy: Fine or ornamental handwriting.

Calliper: Paper thickness.

Camera ready copy or CRC: Artwork pasted up ready for reproduction.

Caps: An abbreviation for capital letters.

Caption: Text identifying a picture or illustration.

Chains: Companies that own many individual bookstores. The two biggest in bookselling are Barnes & Noble and Borders. They contrast with the independents.

Chalking: Deterioration of a printed image caused if ink absorbs into paper too fast or has long exposure to sun making image look dusty. Also called crocking.

Chapter books: Books for older children. They may be illustrated, but tell a story primarily through words.

Character count: The number of characters; i.e. letters, figures, signs or spaces in a piece of copy.

CIP: Catalogue in Publication data operated by British Library and Library of Congress.

Clips: Samples of one’s writing.

Cloud computing: Very close to another term for the Internet.

CMYK: Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black), the four process colors.

Coated paper: Printing papers surface coated with clay for a smoother finish.

Co-Edition; Co-publishing: A work published simultaneously by separate publishers in different formats or language markets.

Collate: Organize printed matter in the order specified

Colophon: An item in a book’s front matter that gives information about how it was produced, from typefaces to the kind of paint an artist used.

Column inch: A column inch is one column wide by one inch deep and used to measure area in newspapers (to calculate the cost of display advertising).

Column rule: A light vertical line used to separate columns of type.

Commission: When doing work “on commission” the publisher hires you, tells you what to do, and usually pays a fee instead of royalties.

Compose: To set copy into type.

Composition: The arrangement of the various elements (figures, objects, background) in an illustration.

Concept book: A picture book that explores a concept instead of, or perhaps in addition to, telling a story.

Consignment: Payment when item is sold.

Co-op money: Money a bookseller spends to promote a publisher’s books, which is then reimbursed.

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 copyright in a work from the moment you create it.

Cover Art:  The design of the book jacket generally produced in-house by the publisher’s art department.

Cover letter: The letter that accompanies your manuscript or art samples.

CPI: Characters per inch.

CRC: Camera ready copy.

Critique: A thoughtful, usually written evaluation of a manuscript, concentrating on problems of structure, tone, characterization, and the like.

Crop marks: Printed lines showing where to trim a printed sheet.

Crop: Cut off parts of a picture or image.

Cross-collateralization:  A contract provision that allows the publisher to charge unearned advances on a book against another title.

Crossover: Artwork that continues from one page of a book or magazine across the gutter.

Crowd sourcing: Developing an idea or piece of work from the contributions of many individuals.

Cure: Dry inks or coatings after printing sometimes with heat.

Cursive: A typefaces that resembles hand writing.

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Defamation (also called vilification, slander, libel): Starts with the communication of a statement that makes a false claim.

DPI: Dots per square inch, a measure of resolution for monitors, printers and scanners, typically 60, 300 and 1200 respectively. (Minimum of 300dpi required for print.)

DRM: Digital Rights Management provides the software locks put on information distributed digitally to prevent unauthorized distribution.

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.


Earn out: To reach the point when the royalties on a book have paid back the advance paid to the author or illustrator.

E-book (also ebook): A book that must be read in an electronic format, either on a personal computer or a handheld reader, instead of on paper.

End pages: Material after the main text.

Epistolary:  Written in the form of letters.

E pub: The standard agreed for ebooks.

Error and omissions:  Insurance available to authors concerned about possible lawsuits resulting from their work.

Escalators: Bonuses paid to the author based on the work meeting certain goals set out in the writer’s contract.

Exclusive submission: A manuscript sent to only one publisher.

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Faction:  A recently coined term used to describe works that straddle the line between fact and fiction.

Fair use: A limited exception to copyright law, allowing others to draw on or use excerpts from a copyrighted work without formal permission.

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.

First Pass:  An early printed edition of the manuscript, which is reviewed for accuracy by the author and copy editor before publication.

First Serial Rights:  The right to except a work in a periodical.

Flap Copy:  Synopses of the story, blurbs, review quotes, or other information designed to help sell the book.

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.

Font: A set of characters in a typeface.

Frankfurt: Frankfurt is the site of the largest international publishing convention, in the autumn every year. Like Bologna, but for all publishers.

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 writ ers 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.

Front matter: The material before the body of a book, including such elements as the title and copyright pages, a table of contents, or an introduction.

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Galley proof: Copy of text for checking before it is finally assembled for print run.

Galleys: Long pages of typeset text, not yet broken out into book pages, not much used today due to computerized typesetting and page layout.

General Publishing (also referred to as trade publishing): Publishing intended for the general consumer market.

Genre:  Sales and marketing category into which the title falls (e.g., mystery, suspense, horror, how-to, self-help, fiction, non-fiction, children, religious)

Ghost Writer:  A writer or co-writer who is not credited on the work.

Glossary: What you are reading now.

Gutter: In newsprint, central blank area between left and right pages. With books, the inside margins toward the binding edge.


Hard copy: Output of a computer printer as compared to digital data on a disk.

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.

Head(er): The margin at the top of a page.

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.

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Imprint: A part of a publisher with a distinct identity, name, and staff.

Independents: Bookstores not owned by large companies, usually free-standing or having only a few branches.

Index: An alphabetical list of topics and key words to be found in a book, with their page number locations.

Institutional: One of the markets in children’s publishing, named for the institutions the books are sold to–schools and libraries.

IRC: Short for 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.

ISBN: The acronym for International Standard Book Number. This number gives the book a unique ID, like your Social Security number, for orders and distribution. The first part of the number identifies the language of publication (“0” for English), and the second part is the publisher’s number.

Italic: Type with sloping letters.


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, through dramatic art and type.

Job Lot: Discounted paper possibly not of first quality.

Jogger: Vibration machine to stack printed materials evenly.

Justify: Alignment of text with both margins.


K (Kilobyte): A binary 1,000 abbreviation for black in four-color process printing in CMYK (or 1024 bytes).

Kerning: Adjustment of spacing between certain letter pairs.

Kill Fee:  Pre-negotiated amount paid to the author of an article which ahs been assigned but not slated for publication.

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Landscape: Format in which width is greater than height. Portrait is opposite.

Layout: The arrangement of all the elements of a book’s design, from text paragraphs and illustrations to chapter titles and page numbers.

Lay Flat Bind: Perfect binding that allows a publication to lie fully open

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.

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 that company produces.

Literary Agent, Literary Agency: Person or organization representing authors and selling their work.

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Manuscript (MS): 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: Books sold 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.

Model release: Written permission for the use of one’s likeness in print. Needed if you take someone’s picture for a book.

Ms./mss.: Short for manuscript or manuscripts.

Multiple submission: A manuscript sent to two or more publishers at the same time (hence the alternative term, “simultaneous submission.”)

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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 page, die-cut holes, lift-the-flap, pop-ups, or sound chips.



OCR (Optical Character Recognition): Converts a scanned image into the digital codes that can be edited in a computer

Offprint: Reprint of an article previously published in a magazine.

On spec: Work done without a contract, in the hope that one will be forthcoming: “on speculation.”

OP: Out of print, meaning that the publisher has no copies of a book on hand and does not intend to reprint it.

Oprah effect: Boost to sales from exposure on a high profile TV show.

Option clause: An item in a contract granting a publisher the right to consider an author’s next work.

Original expression: What copyright law protects: your own unique way of expressing an idea, telling a story, or creating a work of art.

Orphan: Part of a paragraph on its own at the top or bottom of a page.

OSI: Out of stock indefinitely. The publisher has no copies of a book on hand, but may wish to reprint it in the future, and so is not calling it out of print.

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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 Count: Total number of pages including blank pages.

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.

PDF (Page Description Format): Popular format for Adobe Acrobat reader for text and graphic material.

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.

Portrait: An upright image or page where the height is greater than the width and the opposite of Landscape layout.

PP&B: Paper, printing, and binding. The cost of producing a finished book.

Pre-print: The stage between an article or books acceptance and its publication.

Press kit: A folder of materials about your book sent to the media to alert them to your book’s release.

Print on demand: A relatively new technology that uses digital files rather than film to print books, allowing for copies to be printed as needed (“on demand”), rather than in a run of thousands of copies. Unit costs are higher than in traditional printing, but overall costs can be lower, since fewer copies must be printed and warehoused.

Proof correction marks: A standard set of signs and symbols in the margin to indicate any corrections on proofs.

Proofreader: The person who reviews the proofs for errors before it 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, though 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.

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Query letter: A letter you send to a publisher to ask, or query, if they are interested in seeing the manuscript.

Quire: 1/20th of a ream (25 sheets).


Ream: 500 sheets of paper.

Recto: Right-hand page of an open book – The normal side to start a story or chapter.

Reference marks: Symbols in text linked to a footnote.

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.

Remainders: Surplus books sold at a steep discount. A publisher 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 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: As in first revise, second revise indicates the stages of corrections.

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.

Royalties: Money paid to an author by a publisher on the basis of books sold. It may be a percentage of the list price, which is 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).

Running head or footer: A line of type at the top of a page which repeats–a heading.

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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.

Script: The dialogue and instructions for a play or film.

Self-publish: An individual who does 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. These books are geared toward a specific audience.

Signature: The smallest number of pages a particular printing machine can print; many books are printed on large sheets of paper, fitting 8 or 16 or some other number of pages. When folded and cut, each sheet forms a signature.

Slush pile: The unsolicited manuscripts that a publisher receives from writers who aren’t represented by agents.

Softcover: See paperback.

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.

Spread: Open page size of a book.

SRO: School Rights Only: The rights you want to transfer to a textbook publisher, instead of granting them all rights.

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 (simultaneous).

Subsidy publisher: See vanity publisher.

Superstore: Regarding bookstores, a large store with 100,000 or more titles, a coffee shop, and other amenities.

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Template: Standard layout with basic page and layout dimensions.

Thumbnails: Small, rough sketches done by an artist before full-sized 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.

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.

Typeface: The raised surface carrying the image of a type character cast in metal. Also used to refer to a complete set of characters forming a family in a particular design or style.

Typescript: A typed manuscript but still a manuscript.

Typo: Typographical error.

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uc/lc: Upper/lower case.

UCC: Universal Copyright Convention.

Under-run: Print fewer copies than ordered.

Unsolicited submission/manuscript: A manuscript that a publisher did not solicit, or ask for, from an author.


Vanity publisher: 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.

Verso: Left-hand page of an open book.


Watermark: Design created inside paper surface during manufacture.

Weight: Measure of paper thickness and boldness of a font.

wf: Correcting proofs to indicates wrong font.

Widow: A few words left on the last line of a paragraph which falls on a new page.

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.

WYSIWYG: What-you-see-is-what-you-get.


Xerography: The Xerox photocopying process using an electrostatic charge to attract powder to a rotating drum which is then sealed by heat


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.


ZIP: Archive files containing compressed files. They are popular because multiple files can be compressed and put into a single file, saving disk space and transfer time.