Important Publishing Terms Authors Should Know

No matter how great of a writer you are, crafting your words is no longer enough. As authors with publishing goals, we must challenge ourselves to stay on top of industry changes.

In the US alone, the publishing industry generates over $28 billion in revenue per year. Publishers are generally very busy and may not have the time or patience to deal with authors who haven’t taken the initiative to learn the basics.

Avoid looking like a troublesome newbie by adding these seven key publishing terms to your vocabulary.

Publishing Terms to Know Before You Pitch

The pitch is usually the first contact that you will have with a publisher. Make this a productive process by reading submission guidelines and following them closely. Here are a few terms you will likely come across during this process:

Query

A query is a one-page letter or email that is sent to an editor or agent to propose that they invest your book. It should provide some brief background information about you as a writer and explain your book idea.

Top-tier editors have reported that they receive over 100 pitch emails every day. If you want to connect with these editors, your query letters must be short and to the point.

Proposal

A proposal is a package that the writer puts together to present the details of a nonfiction book idea. Publishers will usually request a full proposal only after reading an impressive query letter.

Proposals typically include the following information:

  • Table of contents
  • Market analysis
  • Description of target audience
  • Marketing plan
  • Author bio
  • Full sample chapters

Synopsis

This is a short summary of your work. It usually includes information regarding the book’s plot, characters, and ending. It’s usually best to keep this simple and try to limit it to one or two pages, single-spaced.

Sample Chapters

Completed chapters from your proposed book or manuscript are sometimes requested by the publisher. These are known as sample chapters. Fiction authors should provide the first chapters of the book, while non-fiction authors have the flexibility to provide the chapters that best represent the book’s style and tone.

MS or MSS

This is a simple publishing term that can cause confusion for new writers. MS is an abbreviation for manuscript and MSS is the plural form. Your manuscript is the full and complete version of your work.

You will often see these abbreviations used in emails and other communications with literary agencies and publishers. In this case, a little bit of knowledge can save you from asking questions that make you look like a beginner.

Publishing Terms Related Marketing

No matter how great your book may be, it won’t sell well without a detailed marketing plan. Learn these terms and use them to negotiate a successful book marketing program.

Platform

The platform is your overall strategic plan to create a buzz about your book. Although press releases and speaking engagements are still viable promotion options, a far-reaching online presence is now far more important.

Over 28 billion people currently use social media and the number continues to grow. When discussing platforms, be sure to include plans for creating a great website and extending your social media network.

Website Media Kit

This is a URL address that your publicist can use to provide information about your book to reviewers and the media. It’s usually created as a hidden page on your book’s website.

Your media kit should include:

  • Your bio
  • Headshot
  • Book cover image
  • Sell sheet
  • Sample chapters or the full manuscript

Now that you know the basics, are you ready to start pitching your great idea? Contact us to learn more about how to start your publishing journey today.