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A helpful glossary of publishing and marketing terms that you can use to translate industry parlance and potentially confusing terminology.

For bespoke advice to help your books or publishing project  succeed...



Acknowledgments: A section of your book dedicated to recognising and honouring the people who may have influenced the book, its publishing, or who might have made a difference to the life of the author.

Advance: The payment that a publisher makes to an author, usually in exchange for the rights to sell and publish their book.

Agent: See Literary Agent.

App: Abbreviation for an application that performs a specific function, such as a reading app, and runs on mobiles and tablets.

Appendix: The part of a book that contains supplemental material, such as tables, references, or extra information. It is usually placed at the end of the book.

ARC: Advance Reader Copy, usually sent out ahead of book launches to reviewers.

ASIN: Amazon’s own version of an ISBN, assigned for free when publishing eBooks through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.


Backlist: An author or publisher’s older and sometimes out-of-print titles.

Back Matter: The counterpart of front matter. This means material such as appendices, notes, references, glossaries, bibliographies, or indexes. These are placed at the end of the book.

BA: An abbreviation for The Booksellers Association of Great Britain and Ireland, which is the trade association for booksellers.

Bar Code: Common on many retail products - an image made up of lines which encodes a book’s ISBN. Normally printed on the back cover of a book. Essential to bookshops when selling or tracking books.

Bleed: Printing that goes beyond the Trim Size of a page.

Blurb: The brief description of the book, used for marketing purposes. Can be found on the back of a paperback or on the inside flap of a hardcover. Also a POD and eBook publishing company.

Binding: The format into which a print book is assembled. Binding types range from case binding, spiral binding, and perfect binding.

Book fair: An exhibition and convention for publishers, authors, or booksellers.

Book proof: A proof is the preliminary, often uncorrected, iteration of a book, intended for a limited audience, such as reviewers. See review copy.

Book trailer: A video advertisement for a book, much the same as a film trailer.



Case bound: A type of binding and the industry term for a book in hardback/hardcover format.

Conversion: See Formatting.

Copyright: The exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether it be printed, audio, or video. Works are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator, and for a period of 50-70 years (depending on the country) after his or her death.

Copy editor: An editor employed to work on the detail of a book, focusing on accuracy, style and also consistency of formatting, punctuation, and layout.

Colophon: Originally this term referred to the bibliographic information printed at the end of a book, the term is now used almost exclusively for the device or logo of the book’s publisher or author.

Cover spread: The entire cover of a physical book, from the front, including the spine, to the back.



Dedication: Part of the front matter that dedicates a book to a specific person, place, or thing.

Demy Octavo: The name for a very popular book format, which measures 216 x 138 mm.

Developmental Editor: An editor who focuses on the overall organisation of a book’s content rather than the wording of sentences. A developmental editor is also responsible for re-ordering entire blocks of text, entire chapters, or the re-structuring of a book's plot. The editor may also address tone, voice, addition or deletion of material, complexity of material and transitions between paragraphs or sections of the book.

Distribution: Making your book available to wholesalers, retailers and readers.

Distributor: A company that distributes books to retailers, occupying the gap between authors/publishers and the retailer.

Dust jacket: A detachable outer cover that protects the book, printed with the cover design. Usually for hardback/hardcover books.



eBook: The electronic version of a book, usually read on dedicated eReading devices such as Kindles or Kobo readers, or on devices such as smartphones, tablets, or PCs.

Edition: A specific version of a text.

Endorsement: A written statement promoting an author or their book. Usually placed on the cover or in the front matter of the book.

.ePub: A very popular file format, used mostly by retailers other than Amazon, such as iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Essential file format.

eRetailer: A retailer that sells print books or eBooks via the internet.

Exclusivity: In traditional terminology, this is part of a publishing contract which binds the author solely to one publisher. In the self-publishing industry, it means being exclusive to one particular store or retailer.



Formatting: The process of turning a manuscript file (like a Word document) into a format that can be published as an eBook or published by a POD printer.

Front list: Traditional terminology meaning books in their first year of publication.

Front Matter: Any material preceding the beginning chapters of the book. This could be the table of contents, the dedication, the acknowledgements, introduction, and foreword.



Galley: The interior text of a book after all the editing and formatting has been done.

Genre: A category denoted by the content of a book, such as fantasy, romance, or horror.

Ghostwriting: A writer who writes books, articles and stories that are credited to another person. Celebrities often use ghostwriters for autobiographies and magazine articles.

Greyscale: An image solely composed of black and white colours.




Hard Return: Pressing the enter or return key at the end of a line of text instead of allowing the text to naturally move to the next line.

Hardback/Hardcover: A book that simply has a hard cover, rather than a paper cover



Imprint: An Imprint can refer to the name of a publisher, or a division or subsection of a publishing house that specialises in certain subjects or genres.

Independent Press: (See Small Press) A small publishing company whose annual revenues are below a certain level. These levels may change from country to country, or even among regions in the same country. 

Index: Like a table contents, an index directs readers to specific subject matter in the book.

Interior: All the content within the book. Refers to everything except the cover.

Interior graphics/images: Pictures, diagrams, figures and other items that appear within the interior of a book.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN): A unique 13-digit number (can be 10 or 13 digits if issued prior to 2007) that identifies a specific edition of a book or eBook. UK authors can procure batches of ISBNS from the UK ISBN agency Nielsen. US authors must purchase ISBNs from Bowker, the US equivalent



Jacket: The paper cover wrapped around a hardback.



Keyword: An important word or phrase that can be assigned to a book on platforms such as Kindle Direct Publishing, used by search engines and readers looking for genres, authors, or certain types of books.

Kindle: An eReader produced by Amazon.

Kindle Direct Publishing: A platform provided by Amazon to authors. KDP allows authors to publish eBooks directly to all Amazon stores, via a very simple dashboard.

Kobo: Another major retailer based in Canada and owned by the Japanese company Rakuten. They have a very wide and profitable global market, and also provide their own range of eReaders.



Limited Edition: A book printed in limited numbers, usually for special editions.

Line Editor: An editor who performs an edit that is heavier than the usual copyedit and who focusses on a book's voice, tone, or phrasing. Fictional line editors focus on the story's pacing, character development, minor details and vocabulary of the period and place where the story is set. They will also focus on the effectiveness of dialogue. A line editor also focuses on correcting errors in grammar, punctuation and writing style.

List Price: The recommended retail price of a book. Set by the author or publisher and often referred to as the RRP, or recommended retail price.

Literary Agent: A person or company responsible for looking after the interests of authors. Literary agents manage the exploitation of rights in an author’s work. They handle the submission of manuscripts to traditional publishers, negotiate contracts, and collect monies due.



Manuscript: The complete version of the book before any editing or formatting.

Marketing: Promotional and advertising to sell books.

Metadata: The data about a book. At its very simplest, metadata are: title, author, publisher, price. 

.Mobi: Amazon’s own eBook format, exclusive to Amazon. For use on Kindle devices and apps.



Nook: A brand of eReader developed by Barnes & Noble.



Offset Printing: Printing technology where ink is transferred from a roller to a printing surface, and then to a page of a book. Used for large print runs. A more traditional form of printing, compared with modern digital techniques. Often combined with lithography, which is based on the principle of repulsion between oil and water.



PDF (Portable Document Format): A popular file format produced by Adobe Systems that is widely used. All formatting and style is preserved within the file. Although eBooks can and are produced in PDF, the format is not as widely used as Mobi or ePub formats.

Perfect bound: A type of binding where a glue/adhesive attaches the pages at the spine. Usually with a paper cover, hence the more-common name ‘paperback’.

Print run: The number of copies printed in a single order.

Print-on-Demand (POD): A publishing process in which books are printed only when orders are placed. This bypasses and therefore removes the cost of warehousing.

Proof: A copy of the book, manuscript, or cover produced so that it can be checked by the publisher or author.

Proofreader: An editor who is employed to read through proofs to check accuracy and formatting.

Publication Date: The official date from which a book is available to the public.

Publicist: A person who generates and manages media and public attention for a book through writing press releases, arranging events, book signings, author interviews and book reviews.



Return: A return is a book that either fails to sell or has become damaged, and is returned to the author or publisher.

Review: A published opinion provided by a professional or amateur book reviewer or reader.

Review copies: Books that are provided to reviewers by the publisher or author, usually ahead of the release. See Book Proof.

Royalty: A percentage of the book’s sale price that is paid to the author. Royalties are paid to authors based on the sales of their books. Publishers will undertake a contract with their authors outlining what the Royalties for book sales will be. Royalties range from 5% of sales to 15% of sales. 

RRP: See List Price.



Self-Publishing: A form of publishing that bypasses the traditional model of publishing, employing eBook publishing platforms, POD printers, and various other DIY techniques to reach readers and markets directly.

Slush pile: The ‘pile’ of unsolicited manuscripts that are sent to publishers and agents. Often not read.

Small Press: (See Independent Press) A small publishing company whose annual revenues are below a certain level. These levels may change from country to country, or even among regions in the same country. 

Spine: The thin section between the back and front covers, usually reserved for the title, author name and publisher/author logo.

Spiral-bound: When wire or plastic is spiralled through holes punched along the binding side of a book.



Table of Contents: This section appears in a book's front matter. It lists a book's chapters and their page numbers.

Target Audience: A specific group of readers or a section of the market for whom the book is aimed at.

Territory: Where book rights are concerned, authors and publishers can license and own different rights in different countries or continents. As an indie author, we naturally retain exclusive worldwide rights.

Trade discount: See Wholesale Discount.

Trim size: The dimensions of a print book, specifically the page size.

Typesetting: To arrange the interior of the book in such a way so that it is print-ready. Also referred to as formatting, specifically print formatting.



Wholesale discount: The reduced price at which retailers or distributors buy books from authors or publishers.



Unit Cost: The production or base cost of a printing and putting together a book.



Vanity Press: Traditionally, a Vanity Press was seen as a business or organisation which produced books at the author’s expense.

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