Random header image... Refresh for more!

Publishing Terms

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.
(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author