Literary Definitions: Vol. 6

Publish date:

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 Six:

Attribution (Levels)
On the record - When everything in an interview is fair game to be printed and attributed normally. This accounts for 99.9% of interviewing for most writers.
Off the record - When a source explains something not for publication by any means, but just as a personal explaination to the interviewer. To be truly off the record, both the source and writer must agree to it. If a source simply says "Off the record" and gives their thoughts without the writer agreeing to stop reporting, then the conversation is not truly off the record, and the writer must determine whether to use the material.
Unattributable - This is the current term for when you quote a source but keep their identity anonymous.
On background - What's said cannot be quoted nor can the source be identified, but the gist of what's said may or may not be printed. For example, "A source inside the McCain campaign, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of this information, hinted that they may be as few as only two names on McCain's short list of potential vice presidential candidates."

Boiler Plate Contract (also know as a "standard contract") - (n.) A
standard throughout the industry written document between the publisher
and the authors that determines the advance, royalty rates and
subrights distribution.

Faction - (n.) Works that are presented as fiction but that use actual facts, events and persons in their story and plot lines. Fictional characters are often incorporated as well, which separates the "factional" novel from the nonfiction novel. (In the latter, the documentary facts, characters and plot are based on real events.)

Fair use - The amount of copyrighted material that may be quoted - especially for the purposes of criticism, news reporting, teaching or research - without infringing a copyright. Fair use is usually determined by four factors:
1. the purpose and character of the use (for example, commercial or not-for-profit educational)
2. the nature of the copyrighted work
3. the amount used in proportion to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. the effect on the market value of the copyrighted work

Imprint - (n.) A smaller line of books within a larger publishing
house. These often run kind of like a small press within a larger
press. They have their own editorial staff but will often share other
departments with the rest of the publishing house.

Subsidiary Rights - (n.) Rights associated with the publishing of a
book that do not deal with the actual physical book. This can include
film rights, merchandising rights, foreign rights, and electronic
rights. Some authors are able to keep all of their subrights, but
this is rare and generally requires your name to be J.K. Rowling or
Stephen King.

Writer's Block - (n.) An unfortunate occurrence where an author can not think of a single phrase, thought or word towards his/her current project. Although often remedied by a good night's sleep, these writing slumps can occassionally last for weeks or months. Let's use the word in a sentence: When trying to think of words for this list, I suffer from writer's block.

Image placeholder title

Writer's Block: "Maybe I should write a few pages
and reward myself with a muffin. OK, I need to
establish the themes. Banana Nut - that's a
good muffin."


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