Do you know the difference between foreword and forward?
Do you think a galley is a type of kitchen?
Is “beta readers” just Greek to you?
If you want to be taken seriously, you need to take book publishing seriously. That starts with learning the lingo.
Let’s make sure you’re never confused when it comes to industry language.
Common book publishing terms
Here are 21 of the most common book publishing industry terms. It isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list. This collection focuses specifically on those you are most likely to encounter when you’re new to authorship and publishing.
Keep track of the number of terms you know. We’ll analyze your score at the end.
Anthology: A book that’s a collection of articles or stories written by several people.
ARC: Pre-publication advance review copy or advance reader copy. Send this when looking for media/trade/literary reviews, reader reviews you wanted posted as soon as you officially publish the book, and blurbs from endorsers (see below).
Back matter: Material at the end of the book, including the author bio, a list of other books from the author, and enticements to join the author’s mailing list.
Beta readers: People you send your manuscript to for feedback. Learn more at “Where to find beta readers for your book.”
Binding: How a printed book is assembled between the covers. A book’s spine results from the binding process. Paperback books typically have a “perfect binding” but other binding options include saddle stitching and spiral coil.
Blurb: An endorsement or testimonial from an influencer. (Some people also refer to the book’s description as a “blurb.”) A blurb goes on the front and/or back cover, online sales pages, your website, and, when there are a lot of them, inside the book as part of the front matter (see below).
Book proposal: A detailed document that’s used to secure a nonfiction book publisher. It has many sections, including an overview, audience description, table of contents, and sample chapters.
Callout: Boxed text used as a graphic element in a nonfiction book.
Copyright: Protects original works of authorship so others can’t profit from it without your permission. Learn more at copyright.gov.
Foreword: An introduction to the book from an influencer. Not to be confused with “forward.” When the author writes the foreword, it’s called a preface. (See below.)
Front matter: Pages that precede the main part of the book, where the story begins — blurbs, copyright, title, dedication, foreword, preface, introduction, table of contents, etc.
Galley: The edited book in typeset form without a cover. Used for proofreading and final author review instead of a PDF file. Sometimes used for blurbs and trade/media/literary reviews.
Introduction: Appears after the table of contents of a nonfiction book to explain special features, highlight the book’s structure, and provide specifics that might help the reader get as much as possible from the book.
ISBN: International Standard Book Number, an identifier that’s unique to your book. It’s required for retail sales of printed and audiobooks unless the author is the retailer
Logline: A one-sentence book description.
Metadata: Book specifics such as title, author name, publication date, description, size, keywords, and so on. Think of it as search engine optimization — SEO — for books. It helps your book get found in online searches.
Preface: The author’s story behind the nonfiction book — why the author wrote it, etc. It appears in the front matter.
Print on demand/POD: A publishing method that allows a company to print a single book only when there’s an order. Amazon CreateSpace is a POD publisher.
Proof copy: Sometimes referred to as a galley (see above), it’s the edited manuscript that the proofreader uses.
Special market/special sales: Non-bookstore retail outlets and opportunities, such as health clubs, museums, and gift shops.
Street team: Volunteers who agree to help you share information about your book among their social networks and elsewhere in an organized manner under your direction. Responsibilities usually include writing and posting an honest review on retail sites that include Amazon, BN.com, and Goodreads.
What’s your score?
How many do you know? Here’s my totally made-up scorecard:
- 16-21 correct: You’re no newbie. Go to the head of the class.
- 9-15 correct: You’re not entry level, but to move up the ladder, you’ll want to learn more about the publishing business.
- 0-8 correct: You’re just starting out, so the only way is up. Keep learning! It will pay off.
What must-know publishing terms would you add to the list?
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