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Hundreds of Helpful Articles

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What Does That Mean? Publishing Terms and Vocabulary

Whether you are publishing short stories or have a full novel with a literary agent, it is important that you understand the publishing language. Fluency in the terms that they use will give you an edge and it gives you more control over the sale and the distribution of your work, and you are letting your agent know that you understand it all.

Common Terms

What is a SASE -  Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. Always send one of these when you submit your work so that the agent can respond to you. Make it a standard business-sized envelope.

What is The Media Rate at the Post Office? You can ask for media rate to be applied to any package that contains manuscripts, books, CDs, videos, and so on. It is cheaper than first class but not as fast.

What Are Simultaneous Submissions? When you send your manuscript to more than one agent at the same time. Always check that your agent accepts simultaneous submissions.

What is a Literary Agent? Professionals who know how to get the best possible deal for you with the right publisher.

What is a Proofreader? A person who reads your work and edits it for formatting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

What is a Copyeditor? A professional who will edit your manuscript to meet the style of the agent/publisher.

What is a Query Letter or Cover Letter? A query letter introduces you to your chosen agent while cover letters are used when you send short works to literary journals.

What is an Exclusive Read? It is the right of first refusal. When you give your agent this, you are giving them the right to read and reject/accept your work before any other agent sees it.

What is the Difference Between an Essay and a Short Story? Short stories are works of fiction, essays are non-fiction and can be instructional, academic or personal. The lines between creative/personal essays and short stories are a bit blurred so it is down to you to determine which it is so you submit it to the right place.

What are Galleys? A galley is a version of a manuscript that has not been formatted. These are sent to blurb writers and reviewers several weeks before publication in stores in a fully formatted version.

What is a Slush Pile? This is a pile of submissions that are sent unsolicited to literary journals, agents. Or straight to a publishing house.

What is an Unsolicited or Solicited Submission? Solicited means that the agent or the editor has asked for the work while unsolicited has not been asked for.

What is an Advance? It is a payment given to the author for a novel or book before it has been written.

What is a Backlist? This is a list of an author’s older published works.

What is the Masthead? This is a reference to information about a given publication, like the editors, the publishers, and so on. This is “behind the scene” information, not general information.

Learn these and you will be ahead of the game when it comes to sending your work off to an agent.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds