Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What’s This You Say?: A Glossary of Children’s Publishing Terms

The first SCBWI conference I attended made me realize that I had a thing or two to learn (okay, maybe more). In particular, I had to learn the lingo.

Imprint? Isn’t that what happens when you adopt a flock of ducklings and assume the role of their mother? SDT? Is that a social disease writers get when they don’t get to write often enough? And don’t even get me going on F & G’s!

I quickly learned that like any profession, field, sport, or community of people, there are certain words and terms that only those “in the know” understand. Here are a few terms that might help folks who are new to the kid-lit biz:

· Advance: Money paid to an author before the book is published. The amount of the advance must be earned back in royalties from book sales.
· Agent: Someone who acts on your behalf, selling your manuscript and negotiating your contract with the publisher.
· Antagonist: The villain of the story.
· Anthropomorphism: Giving human characteristics to animals.
· Acquisitions Editor: The editor who acquires or signs up manuscripts.
· Cover Letter: A letter sent with your manuscript to briefly explain your story and introduce yourself.
· Dummy: A manuscript that is laid out in book form, with one or two pieces of finished art.
· E-book: A book that is read only in an electronic format, instead of printed format.
· E-zine: A magazine that is read only in an electronic format, instead of printed format.
· F & G's: Folded and gathered loose sheets. The unbound pages of a finished book.
· Fiction: Writing from the imagination ("made-up" writing).
· Format: The physical appearance of a book.
· Genre: The type of writing (i.e. board book, picture book, young adult...)
· House: As in "publishing house."
· Imprint: A small, subdivision of a publishing house that usually publishes a distinct type of book(s).
· ISBN: International Standard Book Number. This gives each book a unique identification number.
· MS(S): Manuscript(s).
· Masthead: The place in a magazine where the staff is listed (usually near the front).
· Multiple/Simultaneous submission: When an author sends the same manuscript to more than one publisher at the same time. Some publishers DO NOT like this practice, therefore always check publisher's guidelines.
· Non-fiction: Factual or informational writing.
· Personification: Creating characters out of non-living objects.
· Protagonist: The hero of the story.
· Query: A letter sent to a publisher to inquire if they would be interested in reviewing your work.
· Regional publisher: A publisher who specializes in books about certain areas of the country.
· Rejection letter: A letter from the publisher declining to accept your work.
· Royalty: Money paid to an author, based on a certain percentage of the price of the book times the number of books sold.
· SASE: Self-addressed stamped envelope.
· Self-publishing: When an author publishes his own book, assuming all production and marketing costs.
· Show-Don't Tell (SDT): A common term used by editors meaning that you need to show what is happening in the story (rather than tell the reader what is happening).
· Slush pile: All of the manuscripts that a publisher receives that he did not request. It takes editors months to review the slush pile submissions.
· Unsolicited manuscript/submission: A manuscript that the publisher did not request from the author.
· Work-for-hire: When an author is paid a flat fee for their work, usually giving all rights to the publisher.
*Note: The book featured in the photo, "TheComplete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books" by Harold Underdown has an even more extensive list of terms.