What Does That Mean? Literary Definitions: Vol. 3

Ever come across a publishing term and wasn’t sure what it meant?  (Who hasn’t?)

The Buried Editor and I are
pairing up to start a series to
help define some oft-used 
terms in the publishing world.
Here’s Volume Three:

Advance – (n.) A payment against future royalties that you are paid in advance of publication. This can be a lot or a little. Of course, if you don’t sell many books and earn out your advance, you’ll never see another dime for the book.

Agent – (n.) An intermediary that acts on the author’s behalf while negotiating with a publisher. Since agents initially approach editors with manuscripts to pitch, they also serve as an important filter for publishing houses that do not accept unsolicited work.

Biweekly/Bimonthly – Referring to something that takes place once every two weeks/months. This is often confused with semi-weekly/semi-monthly, which means the something in question comes out twice every week/month.

Book Doctor – (n.) A freelance editor hired by a writer, agent or book editor who is skilled in analyzing any problems that exist in a book manuscript or proposal, and offering solutions to those problems. Book doctors often give advice on how to improve the work. They charge money for their services and knowledgeable pros are not cheap.

Byline – (n.) an author’s name that appears with his or her work on the book or article.  Bylines are craved by writers everywhere

On Spec – Writing a complete assignment before money is assured through a contract.  When you compose an original screenplay not commissioned by anyone, it is known as a “spec screenplay.”  If you query a magazine or newspaper with an article idea, they may ask you to write it on spec, meaning they want to see the finished product in its entirety before making a decision to purchase and publish it.

Packager – (n.) A company that produces series of books for publishers. They generally use ghostwriters to write the books and then they pitch the whole series to a publisher who actually publishes the book. Nancy Drew is an example of something produced by a packager (Stratemeyer Syndicate) and then published by a publisher (Grosset & Dunlap).

Royalty – (n.) A percentage of the profits given to the author by the publisher in exchange for the permission to print the authors copyrighted work. These are normally based on the price the publisher gets for the book not the actual retail price. Like an advance, royalty percents can vary in size.

Evidently, this means “knowledge” in Japanese.

See Volumes One and Two here.

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