11 Common Publishing Terms All Writers Should Know

Blue Question MarkIf you’re a writer looking to write, sell or publish a book, there are many basic terms that you need to know. Heck, if you don’t know certain industry terms, you may even have trouble interpreting advice-driven articles on writing designed to help you. Here’s a list of common publishing lingo that you should know before sending your query off to agents. (And if you don’t know what a query is, this list will definitely help you.)

11 Common Publishing Terms All Writers Should Know

# MANUSCRIPT (MS): Your completed book.

# MIDDLE GRADE (MG): Books for ages 9–12. Examples include Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White and the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Boyce and Will Osborne.

# NARRATIVE NONFICTION: True stories written in a narrative that reads like a novel’s; also called creative nonfiction. Examples include The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sloot and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

# NEW ADULT: Books featuring protagonists ages 18–29, usually focusing on the first struggles of adulthood, such as finding love and getting a job.

[There are 7 reasons writing a novel makes you a badass? Read about them here.]

# PLATFORM: Your author presence that allows you to market your expertise and/or book directly to your audience. Examples include a website, a broad-reaching social media network (Twitter, Facebook), speaking engagements and more.

# PROPOSAL: A detailed package used to pitch a nonfiction book; includes a table of contents, a market analysis, fully written sample chapters and more. (Turn to Page 32 for more on how to make your nonfiction book proposal as strong as possible.)

# QUERY: A one-page letter to an agent or editor that explains what your book is about and who you are. (Turn to Page 28 for query letter dos and don’ts, plus a real-life example of a query letter that led to agent representation.)

# SAMPLE CHAPTERS: Completed chapters of your ms or proposed book. For a novel, these should be the first chapters of the book. For nonfiction, you may choose those that best represent the style and tone of your project.

[How Long Should Novel Chapters Be? Click here to find out.]

# SYNOPSIS: A short (usually one-page) front-to-back summary of your work.

# UPMARKET: Literary fiction with commercial appeal, particularly women’s fiction.

# YOUNG ADULT (YA): Books for ages 13–17. Examples include The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

90 Days to Your Novel90 Days to Your Novel is an inspiring writing
manual that will be your push, your deadline, and your

spark to finally, in three short months, complete that first
draft of your novel. Order it now in our shop for a discount.

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers’ Conferences:

Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.


Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

You might also like: