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Writing, Publishing and Marketing  from A to Z

Writers like definitions, right? If that's you, then you're in the right place. Our glossary is comprehensive and lists terms you will come across whether you're seeking traditional publishing or self-publishing. 

Select those an item that interests you or just keep scrolling to get though all of the content.  

Topics

Rough Draft vs Complete Manuscript

Fun Words or Phrases for Kicks and Giggles

Types of Editing and Editors

ARC Team vs Beta Team vs Street Team

Types of Style Guides

Blurb vs Blurb

A to Z Glossary

This glossary covers terms you may encounter during the writing, publishing, and marketing process of creating your book. Look for the (W), (P), and (M) to identify which category a term is located in, and please bear in mind that some terms may belong in more than one category. We simply picked the one we thought was the best fit. 

A
Action Beats (W)

Enrich character dialogue by using action instead of dialogue tags. For example, “Beth, why didn’t you call me back?” Beth shrugged and walked into the kitchen, avoiding her mother’s gaze. Action tags, dialogue, or beats are also used.

The target audience for these books is adults. Adult books will have complex and mature themes and plotlines. 
Adult
(W)
In Traditional Publishing, an advance is a negotiated amount of money a publisher sends an author to buy the rights to publish their manuscript. The author receives royalties after the publisher has recouped the cost of the advance through sales of the book. 
Advance (Book Advance)
(P)
Advance Reader Copy (ARC)
(M)
An Advance Reader Copy is an unpublished copy of a book that is distributed to readers for free in exchange for an honest review. Learn more about the difference between an Alpha vs Beta vs ARC Reader.
An Alpha Reader will be one of the first people to read your manuscript other than yourself. This reader can provide crucial feedback on the plot, characters, and themes of the manuscript. Learn more about the difference between an Alpha vs Beta vs ARC Reader.
Alpha Reader
(W)
Amazon is an online retailer. It is a popular option for purchasing books in all formats (i.e. print, digital, audio). 
Amazon
(M)
Amazon Categories
(M)
Amazon categories separate books into different sections. It is like a physical bookstore where the books can be separated into sections such as Science Fiction, Fiction, and Nonfiction.  The requirements to be a #1 seller in a category vary by category. There may be a category that requires one hundred books be sold to be #1 and a category that only requires two. Check out this resource by Kindlepreneur Amazon Book Categories: My Secret Method to Choose Clear Winners*.
Amazon Keywords
(M)

Amazon keywords are words or phrases shoppers use to find book(s). Keywords are competitive and depend on the target audience. Selecting the correct keyword can be difficult. However, a general rule is to choose keywords that optimize search volume (number of searches) with competition (how many other books are using the keyword); the goal is to identify keywords with the highest search volume and lowest competition that is still relevant to the book.

Anthology
(W)

A collection of works often poetry, essays, short stories or excepts from larger works that is compiled into one volume. This can feature one single author's work or be the work of multiple authors. See Collection. 

Author
(W)

The person who writes the literary work.

Author Bio
(M)

An author's bio or biography briefly describes the author's background. It can be used to showcase the author's achievements including achievements and qualifications. The bio may include personal details such as where  the author is from, currently lives, marital status, family, education, interests and other personal or professional achievements. The main purpose of the bio is to let readers to get know the author and establish the author as an authority. The bio can be used for multiple purposes and across several platforms, such as websites, books, articles, etc. Therefore, an author may have multiple versions of a bio tailored to fit different audiences or purposes. 

Audience
(M)

The audience, often referred to as the target audience or market, is the book's intended readership. The audience will have demographic information or other characteristics identifying them as the ideal readers for a particular book. The author then strives to have their book reach and resonate with their audience. 

Autofiction
(W)

A subgenre of fiction that blurs the line between reality and imagination. It is a story in which the author writes stories about themselves, but it is a fictionalized version of their life and, therefore, is counted as fiction rather than nonfiction. 

B
Barnes & Noble
(M)

A chain book store that sells a wide selection of ebooks and physical books for adults and kids. 

Back Cover Copy
(M)

The text that goes on the back of a book or on the back and flaps of dust jacket. Its purpose is to pique the interest of potential readers and it may include a summary or teaser of the book's contents, author information, reviews, or other information to encourage people to purchase and read the book. 

Backstory
(W)

The events that occur before the story begins. This may include the history or experiences of specific characters or entire populations. The backstory may be explained through flashbacks, dialogue, or exposition so that the audience can understand the events or motivations of characters or plot points related to events that happen beyond the scope of an individual story.  

Best Seller List
(M)

A list of books that have sold the most copies. Lists may have other requirements for books to be considered for the list. Some bestseller lists may be open genre, and others may have categories or focus on particular books, such as nonfiction. A well-known list is the New York Times, which has a minimum threshold of books that need to be sold to be considered for the list.

Beta Reader
(W)

An individual who receives a manuscript close to its final version for feedback. They are chosen from the book's target audience and evaluate elements like character development, dialogue, pacing, and overall readability. Their feedback aids in refining the manuscript further before publication.

Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

Book Festival
(M)

A book festival is an event that celebrates books, authors, reading, and literature. The specific events at a book festival can vary. However, you can expect authors to sell and sign books at booths. There will likely be readings, literary characters, and Q&As. Book festivals can range in size. But no matter the size, they let readers connect with authors and celebrate the written word.

Book Cover (design)
(M)

Its purpose is to draw the attention of potential readers, and it is an essential part of book marketing. A book cover is art/design placed on the book and dust cover, as well as the title, subtitle, and other items. The right design (images) and typography are crucial for having a book that looks professional and can entice potential readers. See Back Cover Copy

Book Interior (design)
(P)

The interior of a book or "type setting" is its layout, including font, font size, chapter heading style, margins, and overall page composition. The interior design of the book affects the reader's experience. 

Book Launch
(M)

A book launch is a series of events that lead to the release of a new book. It can include a social media campaign, an in-person book launch party, book signings, book tours (virtual or in-person), author interviews, press releases, and promotional events. The goal is to create interest in the book and drive sales when it is newly released. The book launch is the first introduction of the book to the public and should be planned well before the official release date. 

Book Printing
(P)

It is the process of taking written content from an author and creating physical copies of the work for publication. The printing process can be on a small or large scale. Typically, several steps are taken before the content is printed into a physical format, including editing and typesetting to ensure quality standards have been met.  

Book Proposal
(P)

A book proposal is a detailed document detailing the content of a potential book that is presented to an agent or publisher. It typically contains an overview of the book's concept and a content summary. It should also include information regarding the author's platform and credentials, outlines, and market analysis. Book proposals are associated with nonfiction work, and the proposal aims to convince agents or publishers of the concept's viability and marketability in hopes of obtaining a book deal.  

Bookstore
(M)

A retail business where books are the main merchandise. Bookstores may be independent shops or part of a larger chain. Also called bookshops.

Book Trailer
(M)

A retail business where books are the main merchandise. Bookstores may be independent shops or part of a larger chain. Also called bookshops.

C
Collection
(P)

Multiple works of one single author are compiled into a larger volume. It is often comprised of poetry, short stories, essays, and excerpts, but may contain longer literary works. See Anthology. 

Copy
(M)

Written content that aims to inform, entertain, or persuade its reader. It is the text that is used in advertisements, websites, newspapers, etc. 

D
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

E
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

F
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

G
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

H
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

I
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

J
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

K
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

L
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

M
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

N
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

O
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

P
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

Q
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

R
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

S
Solicited Manuscript
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

T
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

U
Unsolicited Manuscript
(P)

A manuscript that is sent to a publisher agent or other entity without prior request. Some publishers or agents may accept unsolicited manuscripts. Read submission guidelines before submitting an unsolicited manuscript. See Solicited Manuscript

Upsell
(M)

A sales technique where customers are encouraged to purchase additional products or services. This can come in the form of merchandise, a box set, or an additional book. It may also come in the form of access to a course or service. 

V
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

W
Board Books
(P)

They are characterized by their durability. They are typically made with cardboard or similar material. These children’s books are designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. 

X
Xerography
(P)

Xerography is a method of copying printed materials with black and light ink in a machine. 

Y
Young Adult (YA)
(W)

Young Adult book are written for an audience that is 12-18 years old. There are typically book aim for the lower age group (12-14) and the upper age group (14-18) though the audience can be anywhere between these ages. Young Adult books are more mature than middle grade books, and have have 

Z
Zenith
(N/A)

Zenith is about reaching a pinnacle or simply being at the top. It is often associated with being the highest point reaching a celestial body. It can also indicate success or achieving success. For the author, this could mean receiving awards, accolades, or a certain sales figure. While not directly related to writing, publishing, or marketing, each person could decide what their literary zenith would be, and so I've included it in this glossary. 

Zombie Noun
(W)

Zombie nouns are nouns created from adverbs or adjectives through nominalization. If you add a suffix such as ity, tion, or ism to a word, it becomes a noun. This process obscures the meaning of a word through nominalization and buries the noun within the structure of the sentence.

Zoomorphism
(W)

Attributes animal characteristics to people or objects. Example: He moved like a sloth. 

Types of Publishing

The types of publishers and the legitimate way of publishing are often debated. There are many scams out there, and authors need to do their due diligence in who they work with and what may be a reasonable service cost. 

A general rule is that you don't pay an agent or publisher any fees if you seek traditional publishing. You may personally decide to pay for an editor before seeking an agent, but it is NOT a requirement. Also, publishers do not typically reach out to authors; authors seek and query agents and publishers. 

However, if you select to self-publish, you must have a budget and expect to pay. Let's look at the four types of publishing. 

Please Note: The difference between a self-publishing company, hybrid, and vanity can be murky. Below, we provide some general guidelines, but ultimately, the contract and services and control of rights will help you distinguish between them. Review all contracts with any agent or publisher and have a lawyer review the contract with you. 

Traditional Publishing: Traditional publishers have a rigorous vetting model, and while some accept unsolicited manuscripts, most require the author to have a literary agent. The agent then shops the manuscript to different publishers to secure a deal on the authors behalf. The publisher buys the rights to a manuscript and can distribute and sell it, along with subsidiary rights ^. In this publishing model, the author has no upfront costs and may even receive an advance if you publish with a larger company. Smaller traditional presses may not provide an advance. Authors will also receive royalties from book sales. Some benefits of traditional publishing include editing, cover design, marketing, and name recognition. Traditional publishers take on the risk of publishing the book and always get a good chunk of the reward if it is successful. The author has less control over the traditional route as the publisher will provide all the services in-house. Authors may disagree with some publisher decisions, such as cover design. 

 

Vanity Publishing (also known as subsidy publishing): A vanity publisher takes on the responsibility of a traditional publisher^ but also charges fees for services. They will gain rights over the manuscript as well. Vanity publishers may have guidelines on what manuscripts they will publish, but the main focus is to publish books with the author paying fees rather than the quality of the books they produce. They may also control the distribution of the book. The primary source of a vanity publisher is author fees and not the success of books. A vanity publisher may provide some guidance but not to the extent of a traditional publisher^. If you want to be traditionally published, a publisher expects you to pay anything, then it's likely a vanity publisher. 

 

Self-Publishing: There is a spectrum to self-publishing but the most important aspect is that the author retains full control of their work, even if they hire others to assist in the process. In essence, the author either does all aspects of publishing themselves or hires others to complete the publishing process. The author may purchase formatting software, such as Atticus or Adobe InDesign, or hire a professional formatter. The same can be said for book cover design, editing, illustration, audiobook narration, and all other book publishing aspects. The author needs to determine a budget for the self-publishing process and understand that time is also a cost, so it's about your current skill set, time to learn and do something yourself, and money that should be considered when determining your budget. We have a Self-Publishing and Marketing Budget you can use. A subcategory of Self-Publishing is hiring a self-publishing company to accomplish multiple aspects of the process, often in a bundled package. A fine line exists between a self-publishing company and a vanity publishing^ company. Please be cautious. Here are some tips when looking at a self-publishing company - there are often packages, and the author can select different options. A self-publishing company has no rights or control over your book, including distribution, while a vanity publisher will. The cost of services and fees will be transparent with a legitimate self-publishing company, whereas hidden fees and lack of transparency are trademarks of vanity publishers. Research and check out https://writerbeware.blog/, an excellent resource for writers. 

 

Hybrid Publishing: Hybrid Publishing retains some rights to your book and charges for services similar to a vanity publisher. Like a traditional publisher, they have a selective process in determining what manuscripts they accept. They may offer some free services but will ask authors to pay for services as well. The fees may cover editing, design, marketing, distribution, etc. Authors will receive royalties like a traditional publisher, but these will vary between publishers. Authors will also retain more rights and control than a traditional publisher. A hybrid publisher is between a traditional publisher and self-publishing. 

Alpha vs Beta Reader vs ARC Readers

Alpha, Beta, and ARCs are all readers of pre-published work at different stages of the writing process. An Alpha Reader will be one of the first readers of the manuscript. They will read the manuscript before it is edited or polished; their role is to provide feedback on the plot, characters, and themes. Alpha readers are often family, friends, or fellow writers. The Alpha Readers' role is to point out significant flaws and inconsistencies in the manuscript and provide suggestions for improvement. Beta Readers should be part of the book's target market. These are readers who receive a version of the manuscript that is close to publication. It should have been edited based on feedback from Alpha Reader, and significant issues should have been resolved. Regular editing should also have occurred. The feedback a Beta Reader will provide can be on character development, dialogue, pacing, and overall readability. ARC Readers are the final readers before the manuscript is published. These readers are receiving an advanced copy of the book. ARC Readers are reviewers. They may be a part of the authors' ARC Team or bloggers, booksellers, influencers, etc. ARC Readers can create buzz about a book through initial reviews on Amazon or if they have an online presence through their own channel. ARC Readers may also provide Editorial Reviews to be added to the back matter of the published book and on the author's website or social media. 

Laughing Portrait
People laughing at a table

Fun Words and Phrases for Kicks and Giggles

Cinnamon Roll: 

Acronyms

are words formed with letters that represent a series of words. Each letter represents a different word. Acronyms create a shorter way to refer to a long-winded term or organization.

Initialisms

are abbreviations of multiple words or a phrase and the first letter of each word is used in the abbreviation. Each letter is pronounced individually rather than as a new word

Acronyms and initialisms you may come across while writing, publishing, or marketing your books. 
Owned by Audible, which is a Amazon company. Authors can create their audiobooks using this company. 
A nonprofit organiation that promotes libraries and the services libraries provide as well as library education. 
AMA: Ask Me Anything
Open questions for an individual to answer on social media or live (in-person or virtual). THis is often used in Q&A sessions.
ARC: Advance Reader Copy
A copy of a book that is released before book has been offically released. It is used for marketing purposes. 
APA: A
ASIN: Amazon Standard Identification Number
It is a unique identifier compose of letters and numbers that is used for products on Amazon. It is ten characters long. Not all books will have a ASIN. 
BEA: BookExpo America
Text
CB: Chapter Book
Text
CMS: Content Management System
Text
CPM: Cost Per Thousand (impressions)
Text
CTR: Click-Through Rate
Text
CSS: Cascading Style Sheets
Text
CTA: Call to Action
Text
DNF: Did Not Finish
Text
DIY: Do It Yourself (commonly used in self-publishing contexts)
Text
DOI: Digital Object Identifier
Text
D2D: Draft2Digital (a self-publishing platform)
Text
EPUB: Electronic Publication
Text
HTML: Hypertext Markup Language
Text
IBPA: Independent Book Publishers Association
Text
IRL: In Real Life
Text
IBPA: Independent Book Publishers Association
Text
ISBN: International Standard Book Number
Text
IP: Intellectual Property
Text
KDP: Kindle Direct Publishing
Text
LCCN: Library of Congress Control Number
Text
MC: Main Character
Text - add FMC MMC
MS: Manuscript
Text
MSWL: Manuscript Wish List (used by literary agents and editors)
Text
NANOWRIMO: National Novel Writing Month
Text
API - MLA - WPM Tbr VA
PA: A
NDA: Non-Disclosure Agreement
NPR: National Public Radio
Text
NPC: Non-Player Character (commonly used in writing and gaming contexts)
Text
Text
NYT: New York Times
Text
PEN: Poets, Essayists, Novelists
Text
PDF: Portable Document Format
Text
PLR: Public Lending Right (royalties for library loans)
Text
PNR: Paranormal Romance
Text
POC: Person of Color (referring to characters or authors) also BIPOC ?
Text
POD: Print on Demand
Text
PPC: Pay-Per-Click
Text
PR: Public Relations
Text
ROI: Return on Investment
Text
SCBWI: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
Text
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
Text
SFF: Science Fiction and Fantasy
Text
SFWA: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Text
TBR: To Be Read (referring to a list of books)
Text
UGC: User-Generated Content
Text
WGA: Writers Guild of America
Text
WIP: Work In Progress
Text
WSJ: Wall Street Journal
Text
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