Self-publishing is an exciting path to choose to publish your literary masterpiece. The road could be bumpy, but you can surely find a helping hand. Whether you’re just starting to write your manuscript or you’re already a published author, getting familiar with the terminologies in the industry will ease your self-publishing and marketing initiatives.

The self-publishing terms you are about to learn and relearn are common in the publishing world, in general, and at ReadersMagnet, in particular. This is not an intensive glossary of terms, but they can ease your struggle reading a blog or a publishing contract. Aside from the term being described, you can also find words in bold letters within descriptions to imply that the words have separate definitions within this article.

All Rights: A circumstance common in traditional publishing where an author sells all rights to a literary work. It is not recommended for writing with reprint potential.

Auction: A situation when several editors and even publishers expressed interest in a book and made varying, escalating bids for it. The bids include advertising and promotional expenses, royalty percentages, and more. Eventually, the one who wins the auction receives the manuscript

Author Bio: A mini bio or short biography of the author that includes the educational background, achievements, interests, a summary of the book, and even personal information, sometimes.

Author Brand: A consistent message and representation of identity and image that helps readers to connect with authors and their books.

Barcode: A code at the back of a book indicating a price or ISBN readable to a machine. Retailers require barcodes for print products that they carry.

Blurb: Also known as flap copy or jacket copy, a blurb is a copy found on book covers or book dust jackets promoting the book and the author. The copy could feature testimonials from book reviewers or famous personalities in the industry or specific fields. 

Book Marketing: A combination of the traditional and digital strategy of marketing a book through bookmarks, business cards, posters, blogging, book signing, author interviews, social media networking, and more.

Bound Galleys: An edited format of a book cut into pages, bound with a cover, and shown to authors before publication. Also known as bound proofs or final galley proofs. Compare its difference with galleys.

Copyediting: A process of refining a copy or manuscript by editing the grammar, punctuation, spelling, and printing style. It may also include fact-checking the accuracy of information and graphics. Read proofreading for comparison.

Copyright: A legal means of protecting an author’s intellectual property, including the publication, distribution, and adaptation of a literary work.

Cover Letter: A brief letter or a one-page document that accompanies the manuscript being sent to a literary agent or editor.

Description: A summary of the book to be sent to a distributor or publisher who wishes to describe and market the book online or offline.

Distributor: An entity that manages all fulfillment, credit, and collections on behalf of a publisher. A distributor would sell to retailers and wholesalers.

Edition: A new version of a book that has undergone a series of corrections. A new page or chapter might have also been added, like a preface, appendix, or additional content.

EPUB: A common eBook file format for digital books and publications.

Foreign Rights: A translation or reprint rights to be sold in other countries and territories. This commonly happens in international book fairs, particularly with The London Book Fair and Frankfurt Book Fair.

Galleys: A first typeset version of a manuscript that has not yet been divided or assembled into pages. Galleys are used in digital publishing while bound galleys are more common in traditional publishing since the latter require bound covers.

Genre: A general classification of writing, such as fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, or to the categories within those classifications, like a mystery novel, historical fiction, or sonnet.

Headshot: A professional-looking head-and-shoulders photograph of an author used for publishing and promotional purposes.

Imprint: A name applied to a publisher’s specific line of books commonly appears on the title page and spine of a book.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number): A distinctive 13-digit number supplied by an ISBN agency and assigned by the publisher to identify a particular format, edition, and publisher of a book. ISBN is used worldwide as a unique identifier for each book title/format combination.

Literary Agent: A mediator between an editor or publisher and a writer who is being advocated by the agent. A literary agent usually takes a 10-15% commission from the royalties.

Manuscript: An initial, raw copy of the text of a novel or an essay before publishing it as a finished book. A manuscript is required to be submitted to the publisher for evaluation before publication.

Marketing Plan: A well-thought-out strategic plan that details the documents, activities, and deliverables needed to market an author and his or her book.

Net Royalty: A payment based on the profits a book publisher makes from the sale of a book after returns, special sales discounts, and retailer discounts. 

Online Brand Publicity (OBP): A combination of different digital marketing services to improve your author branding and book marketing, such as an author interview, social media content creation, and Google advertising. Learn more here.

On Spec (writing on speculation): A process in which writers complete a manuscript and submit that to a publisher before receiving an assignment and signing a contract. 

Pen Name: A name or a pseudonym used by an author on articles, stories, or books other than the legal name. 

Print on Demand (POD): A digital form of printing produced once an order is placed and based on the precise quantity of copies that were ordered.

Promotion: A process in publishing that focuses on sales-driven activities behind a particular book for a particular period of time. Due to digital platforms, promotion can now be done online via social media networks and websites, like the Online Brand Publicity (OBP) service.

Proofreading: A close but surface-level reading and correction of a manuscript’s typographical and stylistic mistakes. Proofreading happens before editing or copyediting.

Proposal: A book proposal summary that is sent to a publisher, especially for nonfiction manuscripts. It is usually accompanied by a cover letter, a one-page summary of the book, a marketing plan, an author bio, a chapter-by-chapter outline, and sample chapters.

Publishing Consultant: A publishing expert who manages an author’s project through the entire writing, production, publishing, and marketing process. A publishing consultant helps in informing, advising, and educating the author about self-publishing and book marketing.

Reprint: A re-publication of previously published material. If a reprint has been revised from an earlier version, it is usually referred to as a new edition rather than a reprint.

Reprint Rights: A legal right to republish a book after its initial printing.

Retailer:  A bookstore selling books and a lot of related goods to the readers. Retailers get their products from publishers, wholesalers, and distributors.

Returnable: A status of returning and getting a refund for unsold copies from a bookstore.

Revision: A final process of refining the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and accuracy of a manuscript after a series of proofreading and editing.

Royalties: A percentage of money the author receives from the publisher on the basis of the sales conditions laid down in the contract. Self-publishing has a higher royalty compared to traditional publishing. Contact a publishing consultant at ReadersMagnet to learn more.

SASE (Self-addressed Stamped Envelope): A traditional query letter from an author sent to a literary agent (or vice versa) indicating an acceptance, request, or rejection.

Self-Publishing: A process of publishing where the author has more control over the manufacturing, production, and marketing of the book and keeps all income derived from the book sales.

Subagent: An agent handling certain subsidiary rights, usually working in conjunction with the literary agent who handled the book rights. The percentage paid to the agent is increased to pay the subagent.

Subsidiary Rights: A right other than book publishing rights included in a contract, such as paperback rights, book club rights, movie rights, and more.

Synopsis: A summary of a story, novel, or play. It must be a comprehensive synopsis condensed into a single-spaced page if used for a book proposal.

Targeting: A promotional campaign created to appeal to a segment of readers based on their particular genre, niche, or interests.

Trade Book: A book that concerns a special interest for a general audience.

Translation Rights: A subsidiary right for a book to be translated and sold in another language. Read Foreign Rights for more information.

Unsolicited Manuscript: A story, article, poem, or book that an editor did not assign. Read our entry for a manuscript.

Wholesaler: A business that obtains books from publishers and their appointed distributors to fulfill orders for retailers and libraries. A wholesaler offers non-exclusive distribution to publishers. 

We hope this short article on self-publishing terms can help you understand the intricacies of the endeavor you choose as an indie author. Feel free to browse our blogs to read a particular topic you want to know more about.

If you need further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We at ReadersMagnet, a finalist of the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics 2022, are committed to helping you achieve self-publishing and marketing success. Reach out to us at [email protected] and 1-800-805-0762 today!