Here are terms you’ll need to know in order to understand the world of publishing.
- Advance: the money paid before the book is on the shelves based on a prediction for how much the publisher believes the book has the potential to earn (usually calculated as 1/3 of the royalties for the first print run).
- Agency Agreement: a contract between the writer and the agent, outlining the relationship.
- Agent: a person who represents the writer, opening doors to publishers and negotiating contacts and the relationship between the publisher and the writer.
- Big Six Publishers: six large publishing houses, all found in New York. They are Hachette, Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster.
- Book Doctor: freelance editors who are paid by the writer to help them rework their book before representation.
- Copyediting: searching for mechanical errors in the manuscript and stylistic inconsistencies.
- Editor: the person at the publishing house who will help you get your manuscript in order contentwise.
- Galley: a proof of the final manuscript that the writer can examine before the book goes to print. Galleys are sometimes also sent out to reviewers.
- Independent Press: traditionally, a small press (in other words, anyone who is not a subsidiary of the Big Six). There has been a movement in the self-publishing world to rename self-publishing “independent publishing,” but traditionally, independent publishers pay the author and contain all the same protocols as the Big Six publishers.
- Proofreading: the final examination of the manuscript for any errors before the printing.
- Publisher: the person at the publishing house who is responsible for overseeing the life of the book from acquisition to publicity.
- Royalties: the percentage of the book sale that goes to the author.
- Self-Publishing: utilizing a “print-on-demand” system, authors can pay to have their book created and sold through online outlets such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.
- Small Press: any press that is not one of the Big Six.