Acceptance Even after a contract is signed between author and publisher, the editor still has to "accept" the final version of the manuscript. After acceptance, the publisher can proceed with publication and release the author's agreed upon advance.


The amount of money the publisher pays the author up-front upon acceptance of the manuscript for publication. Typically, the book's sales must "earn out" the advance before the author is paid any additional monies.

The payment an author receives when an editor accepts her/his book. It's an "advance" payment of money the publisher expects to make on sales of the book. After sales recover the advance for the publisher, the author usually receives Royalties -- a small percentage of the continuing sales of the book. Advances vary widely according to publisher and type of book.

A tactful word of warning: asking an author how much she/he makes per book is equivalent to asking someone to tell you her/his salary. We understand your curiosity, but please ask for general figures, not specifics.


The author's representative in business dealings with the publisher.


Advance Review Copy of your book. Distributed to reviewers before book is released.

Author's Voice

The unique use of words, phrases, and writing techniques that places an author's "stamp" on their work. It is recognizable to the reader, even if they don't know who the author is. Prime example of author's "voice" vs. "style": Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Similar style, but very different author voices.

All Rights

means that the article must not have been published before, and cannot be used again after it has been published in this particular publication. Never give up all rights. If you're selling all rights, make sure you're being paid what you deserve.


A collection of selected literary pieces.

Anthology Rights

Some publications publish yearly anthologies (collection of articles or stories). In such cases, they ask for these rights for possible inclusion of your work in their anthology.


is writing which is overly artistic or fantastic is tagged with this term.


Attributing human form or personality to things not human (i.e., animals).


Manuscript commissioned by an editor for a stated fee.

Back Cover Copy

The few paragraphs on the back of a book to give the reader a quick sketch of what the book's aboutThe few paragraphs on the back of a book to give the reader a quick sketch of what the book's about. 


A ballad written to be recited or sung treats some dramatic or timely episode in the lives of common people.

Bios and Photos

Sometimes the author's photograph or contact information appears alongside the article. Sometimes editors may agree to put up a photo or a short bio beside your article. It never hurts to ask.


A publication that appears every two months.

Bi weekly

A publication issued every two weeks


Author's name credited at the heading of an article.


Description or text accompanying an illustration or photograph.

Category Book

Any book that is published under a series title, as part of a monthly package. Harlequins, and Silhouettes for example. Category books adhere to certain concepts in length and style -- often erroneously called "formulas."

Category Formula

are tip sheets for specific romance lines, but they are meant to be a creative guideline. When you watch a situation comedy on network TV, you expect a certain type of show. When you read a category romance (or for that matter, a category mystery, or a category science fiction, or a category western, or a category male action/adventure) you expect a certain type of story. Situation comedies vary widely in tone, characters, plot, and subject. So do category romances. Use the term "formula" and we shall smack you with a wet magnolia.

CD-ROM Rights

means that the publication is free to use your work on a Compact Disk.


The author's ability to populate their stories with unique, individual people who are living and breathing to the reader. When two people have a conversation in a novel, the reader should be able to know who is saying what, without the name tags, based on how well the author has developed the character.


The driving force of most fiction. Plot without conflict is nothing more than a "journal" of events.


This term implies a sort of historical miscellany. A chronicle is thought of as a history which tends to be incomplete, sketchy, not always accurate, and may be injected with matter that is purely fictional. Several plays by Shakespeare are chronicles.


This term was first applied to the great works of Greek and Roman literature by Renaissance writers, but has come to mean any literature which has stood the test of time.


Sample of a published work.


In literary theory comedy is the opposite of tragedy. It is a light form of drama that usually has a happy ending.

Contributor's copies

Copies of the publication issue in which the writer's work appears 


To edit with close attention to style and mechanics.


Legal rights that protect an author's work as soon as you have those words on paper. You don’t have to register copyright to claim it, though if you're writing a novel or book, it's a wise investment. Registered copyright is proof enough for a court of law, and is extremely valuable in cases of dispute. However, for short materials like articles or essays, copyright needn't be registered. You can however, club a number of essays and register them together.

Cover letter 

Brief letter sent with a manuscript introducing the writer and presenting the materials enclosed.


is the unraveling of the complications of a 'plot immediately after the climax to a story, bringing an end to the dramatic conflict.

Disk submission

Manuscript that is submitted on a computer disk.

Distributor Large company that warehouses books from the publishers and distributes them to the booksellers: Large company that warehouses books from the publishers and distributes them to the booksellers. 


In the theater drama covers all types of work designed for performance on the stage. Drama which is written more to be read than performed is called closet drama. Drama requires a story, series of actions, a setting, and actors.

Early readers

Children 4 to 7 years.

Editorial calendar

List of topics, themes, or special sections that are planned for upcoming issues for a specific time period.

Editor The representative of the publishing house who evaluates your work, and can make decisions on purchasing it. The editor stays with the author through the publication process, recommending revisions, giving final approval over the manuscript before acceptance.

Electronic Rights 

As more and more publications archive their articles online, they are asking for electronic rights. This means that they can carry your article online. Usually a time-period is specified. Also, electronic rights are usually non-exclusive, meaning that you can sell this article elsewhere although it will continue to appear on this publication's website.

Electronic submission

Manuscript transmitted to an editor from one computer to another through a modem.


a lament for the dead in poetic form

Email (electronic mail):

Messages sent from one computer to another via computer network or modem.

English-language rights

The right to publish a manuscript in any English-speaking country.


is a long narrative poem that is very dramatic, dealing with real or fictitious actions carried out in a noble manner. Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey are epics.


The essay attempts to explain and inform, is brief, and does not tell a story. There is no plot required in an essay.


you may have to interview a subject. You may have to make long-distance calls or spend a few bucks on travel, lunches and other expenses. All such expenditures incurred for the assignment are usually paid for by the publication. You should be very clear on this before you get on the assignment. Usually, editors will agree to reasonable expenditure refunds


Fiction is imagined and is opposed to f~ua1 writing. The novel and short story are forms of fiction, while reference works, history, biography, and literary critism are nonfiction. Poetry and drama are considered in separate classes.


Short item that fills out a page (e.g., joke, light verse, or fun fact).

First Serial Rights

usually pertain to some country. For e.g., First North American Serial Rights, or First British Serial Rights. Although the article mustn't have been published in the country prior to this, you are free to submit elsewhere after publication.

First-time Rights 

Your article must not have appeared anywhere worldwide. You are, however, free to sell your work elsewhere after publication.

Free Verse 

is a pattern of verse structure without meter and usually without rhyme.


The line-edited, copy-edited version of your manuscript before it goes to print.


refers to a classification of literature according to style, subject matter, or the way it is presented

Glitz and Glamour Books

A subgenre of Mainstream Romance/Women's Fiction. Big, usually contemporary books that focus on lifestyles of rich, jet-setting characters. Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins are well-know authors in this genre.


Photo printed on shiny rather than matte-finish paper.

Gothic Novel

Type of novel about romance, horrors, suspense, and sensational ads. These books also vary in length and style. Dark old mansions, brooding, troubled heroes, naive, young heroines, mystery, and suspense are among the best-known elements. While there is little or no sex in most Gothic’s, a sensual new subgenre has recently emerged under the designation, Sexy Gothic, Georgia Romance Writer Andrea Parnell, who writes for Onyx, is a leading author of that subgenre.


Any book with a historical setting, usually defined as pre-World War I. Historical are usually between 90,000 and 175,000 words in length. The term encompasses everything from "category" historical such as those published by Zebra and the Harlequin/Silhouette line, to long nearly ;mainstream book in the tradition of Gone With the Wind.


A device for grabbing reader's attention.


is a technique in which the writer tries to record the impression of his experience. He explores the inner meanings of things as they affect him. In expressionism the writer, instead, records a quality that is part of the subject he is writing about. 

International Reply Coupon (IRC):

Coupon exchangeable in any foreign country for postage on a single-rate, surface mailed letter.

IRIS The color photo-quality image of the book's cover art, spine and back cover copy.


usually takes the form of a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another, frequently by adroit questioning, called Socratic irony. Sometimes words are used to express something other than, and especially the opposite of, the literal meaning. The term also applies to a humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony.

Joint Accounting The process where a publisher combines the sales of different books by one author in a royalty statement, requiring each book's advance to "earn out" before any additional royalties are paid on any other book 

Kill Fees

Editors are always killing; articles that they've assigned, To the writer, this could mean wasted time, as well as money. To reimburse the writer for her research and hours put in, magazines usually have a kill fee. If your query has been accepted, but your article isn't published for some reason, you'll be given a kill fee for your work.


Plan for the arrangement of text and artwork on a printed page.


Beginning of an article.

Lead time

Length of time between assembling and printing an issue.  A magazine usually asks writers to submit their work well in advance so that there are no last-minute goof-ups. Magazines, especially reputed ones, cannot risk delaying an issue because of a single writer. This period is usually termed as lead-time. Although most magazines have lead times of approximately three months, many have periods of more than six months.


Any false published statement intended to expose another to public ridicule or personal loss.


covers all the· preserved writings of a language or people.

Literary Criticism

is the discipline and study of literature. Its purpose is to stimulate the process of artistic creation and appreciation by judging the quality and value of creative writing.

Local Color Literature

draws a picture of a section of a country, with attention to lo cal customs, dialects, dress, and culture. Local color literature is considered one of the outstanding achievements of American literature, ranging from Mark Twain to Uncle Remus.

Long Contemporary Book

Any category book over 65,000 words, with a contemporary setting. For example: Harlequin American Romance, Silhouette Intimate Moments, Silhouette Special Edition, etc.

Lost Generation

refers to a group of writers and artists who began their work in the period following the First World War. Many of the group, which centered in Europe and particularly Paris, were disillusioned following the war and worked with a feeling of futility. A number of American artists went to Europe in this period, the most famous being Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Lyric Poetry

has a musical quality. The early forms were intended to be sung.

Mainstream Romance/Women's Fiction

Nebulous terms used to denote big, complex, contemporary books of interest primarily to women readers. While romance is usually a key element many other elements are present. Topics may cover a range not seen in category books, such as homosexuality, drugs, and terrorism.


A typewritten or computer printed version of a document (as opposed to a published version).  


The printed matter in a newspaper or periodical that gives the title and pertinent details of ownership, advertising rates, and subscription rates.

Middle-grade readers

Children 8 to 12 years.


An internal device or a small electrical box that plugs into a computer; used to transmit data between computers, often via telephone lines.




is a play that works on the sentimental reactions of the audience. There is usually a dashing hero, a fair heroine, and a villain. The action has lots of split-second escapes and suspense. Example: the James Bond stories.   


is a speech by one person. It differs from a dialogue by its length and relative completeness, and from a soliloquy by the fact that it is addressed to someone. It may be an independent unit, a complete work of art..

A soliloquy is spoken by one person who is alone or acts as though he were alone. It is a kind of talking to oneself, and not in tended to affect others. A soliloquy is also called an interior monologue.

Motivation The reason your character is struggling so hard to achieve his or her goal.


is a literary movement, which was started in Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and showed ";life as it is,"; is called naturalism. The subject was usually drawn from the lower section of society, and studied at great length and depth.


an attempt to revive the form of Greek and Roman literature. 

Nobel Prize for Literature

given each year by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm for the best literature of the year. American writers who have won the Nobel Prize for literature are Sinclair Lewis, 1930; Eugene O'Neill, 1936; Pearl Buck, 1938; William Faulkner, 1950; and Ernest Hemingway, 1954.


is a fiction tale of considerable length, usually with a number of characters and situations. Since the eighteenth century, when the modern novel developed, this form has become the most popular branch of American and English literature, challenged only by the short story.

On spec

Refers to writing" on speculation, without an editor's commitment to purchase the manuscript.

One-time Rights

Publications asking for one-time rights require that you let them use your work once. It may or may not have been published before and you are free to use it after publication.


Summary of a manuscript's contents, usually nonfiction, organized under subheadings with descriptive sentences under each.


The speed at which the writer moves the reader through the story. Long passages of narrative slow pacing, while dialogue exchanges speed pacing. Note: The pacing of the book is not the same as the time covered in the story.


A set number of chapters (typically 3) requested by the publisher to evaluate a proposal.

Partial Manuscript

The first three chapters of your book, plus a five-to-fifteen page synopsis of the complete story. Many editors and agents, after seeing a query letter from you, will ask you to send a partial of the book.

Payment on acceptance vs. Payment on Publication.An author is paid following the publication of the manuscript. Many publications prefer to pay their writers on publication, meaning when the article appears in print. In established magazines, the time between acceptance and publication can be months, so you may write an article in March, and be paid for it in September. Always try to get paid on acceptance.


may be simple or complex, is the framework of incidents upon which the narrative or drama is constructed, or the events of the con flict organized into an artistic unit. In classic literature the plot had a rigid form, demanding a beginning, middle, and end..

Pen name/pseudonynFictitious name used by an author.


Most imaginative expression of writing. No set formula or accepted definition for it.


Point of View- whose head are you in during the scene? Most novels today are written in 3rd person (he saw, she did) vs. 1st person (I saw, I did) and most are in past tense (he did, she was) vs. present tense (he does, she is).

Print Run

The number of copies of the book the publisher will print for distribution. Typically a first-time author's print run is pre-determined according to the publisher's expectations for the book, while a more established author will have previous sales records to help determine the run.


Children under 5 years of age; also known as preschool.


To read and mark errors, usually in printed text.


A package put together for the editor, including a synopsis of your book, plus a partial of the actual manuscript. Generally, first-time authors will only sell on complete manuscript, while subsequent sales are made on proposal.


Company that purchases manuscript, prints it, and offers it for sale to the public.

Pulitzer Prizes

are annual awards in journalism and literature, created by the American journalist Joseph Pulitzer. They are the best known of a number of literary awards made in the United States. 

Query Letter

The one-to-two page letter you send to an editor or agent. It tells a brief summary of your plot, what type of book you're writing, and whether or not the book is finished. It also tells a little about your writing background. Letter to an editor to promote interest in a manuscript or an idea.


 is a general term which applies to all literary work attempting to present life as it really is, stripped of its idealism and romantic notions. Realism tries to show life in a completely honest way, including unpleasant and sordid details along with pleasant and noble experiences. It usually avoids the unusual for the commonplace.

Refereed journal

Publication that requires all manuscripts be reviewed by an editorial or advisory board.

Regency Books 

Set approximately between 1800 and 1821, the time of Napoleonic Wars. Though books in the genre vary widely in length, style, etc., they are often described as comedies of manner. They usually contain little or no sex. Georgette Heyer and the late Barbara Cartland are well-known authors in this genre.

Regional Literature 

Is the setting is very important. (See local color literature.)


was a time of disorder and turmoil, and the term is used to describe the literary and art movements during the change from the medieval age to the modern age. The period first flowered in Italy in the fourteenth century and spread from there to France and then to all Europe. It was marked by a revival of interest in learning, based partly on ancient Greek and Roman Classics.


are articles, essays or pieces that had been published. If you own the copyright and want to sell the piece again to another publication, it will be termed as a reprint. Most publications pay much less for reprints and some don't accept them at all.

However, for a freelancer, sometimes reprints bring more income than original articles do. Another printing of an article or story; can be in a different magazine format, such as an anthology.


The amount of money the publisher "holds back" from an author's royalties, based on the assumption that booksellers will strip and return unsold books.

Response time

Average length of time for an editor to accept or reject a submission and contact the writer with his or her decision. 


Account of one's qualifications, including educational and professional background, as well as publishing credits.


In a contract, typically the publisher is "buying" the ability to control the author's work for a set amount of time and for set purposes. Some contracts include rights for a number of years, for publication in various forums including print, print on demand, e-publishing.

Some even include film rights, meaning the publisher has purchased the ability to negotiate with a Hollywood producer to film your story on your behalf, for a pre-determined percentage Royalties: The money the author makes on a book. Typically, an agreed upon percentage of the cover price, based on book sales.


is an attitude toward literature which usually results in writing marked by fancy, imagination, color, and often revolt against accepted forms.


Self-addressed envelope (no postage).


A book that covers several generations of a family, usually starting in historical times.and ending in the present


Self-addressed, stamped envelope.


Self-addressed stamped postcard.  


The key moments showing the characters progression through their story


A transition to link scenes, gives character the opportunity to react to what just happened and to prepare for what will happen in the next scene.


A brief (1 page per 10,000 ms. words) description of the plot of your book. Should be written in present tense, with as few character names as possible, should cover the turning points in your book and should include no dialogue. Designed to engage the editor's interest in your story, the synopsis should resolve all plot questions and must never leave an editor "hanging."

Second serial rights

The right to publish a manuscript that has appeared in another publication; also known as Reprint rights.


Occurring every six months or twice a year. 


Occurring twice a month.


Occurring twice a week.


A publication issued as one of a consecutively numbered and indefinitely continued series.

Serial rights

See First serial rights.

Short Contemporary Book 

Any category book under 65,000 words, with a contemporary setting. For example: Harlequin Temptation, Love swept, Silhouette Romance, Silhouette Desire, etc.

Short Story 

applies to a brief prose narrative, from a few hundred words up to 15,000 words in length. (The average novel is 75,000 words in length.)


A short article that accompanies a feature article and highlights one aspect of the feature's subject.

Simultaneous submission :

Manuscript submitted to more than one publisherat the same time; also known as multiple submission. Something most magazines advise against submitting the same article to more than one publisher.


Specific approach to a subject to appeal to a certain readership.

Slush pile

Term used within the publishing industry to describe unsolicited manuscripts.

Solicited manuscript

 Manuscript that an editor has requested or agreed to consider.

Staff written

Prepared by members of the magazine's staff; also known assign-house.

Syndication rights

The right to distribute serial rights to a given work through a syndicate of periodicals.

Stream of Consciousness Technique

the author tries to follow the uninterrupted flow of thoughts that pass through the mind of a character.

Sweet/Traditional Romances

Any contemporary category series that contains little or not sex. Harlequin Presents and Silhouette Romance are examples.

Sensual/Sexy Romances 

Although the term seems self-explanatory, it helps to bear in mind that a sensual romance does not necessarily contain much sex. "Sensual" refers to the feeling of attraction and sexual tension between the two main characters. All romances are sensual; it's just that some are more explicitly sensual than others.


The two terms are often used interchangeably .It is a condensed description or summary of a manuscript They refer to a five-to-fifteen page summary of your book's plot.

A brief (1 page per 10,000 ms. words) description of the plot of your book. Should be written in present tense, with as few character names as possible, should cover the turning points in your book and should include no dialogue.

Designed to engage the editor's interest in your story, the synopsis should resolve all plot questions and must never leave an editor "hanging." The synopsis/outline can either take a narrative form -- such as a book report -- or can be structured in a chapter-by-chapter listing of the book's action. The synopsis/outline should give the editor or agent

(1) a brief description of the main characters (ages, occupations, personality types)

(2) a brief description of the setting and time frame,

(3) the complete plot of the book from start to finish. A synopsis/outline should never tease the editor/agent with lines like, "If you want to know how the story ends, you'll have to read my book!" Condensed description or summary of a manuscript.


Publication printed on an ordinary newspaper page, turned sideways folded in half.


A device used by the author to let the reader know which character is speaking.

Tear sheet 

A page from a newspaper or magazine (periodical) containing a printed story or article.

Theme list

See Editorial calendar.


 is a struggle that ends in disaster fol the leading character or characters. The struggle might be a conflict of will with circumstances, or an inner conflict.


are a mixture of tragedy and comedy.


Color slides, not color prints

Turning Point

The times in your book when your characters change direction. The plot builds, your characters act or react to what is going on, and something occurs to send them in an unforeseen direction, bringing the reader along with them.

Unsolicited manuscript

Any manuscript not specifically requested by an editor.


Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights was the forerunner of many gothic novels.


Work specifically ordered, commissioned, and owned by a publisher for its exclusive use

World rights

Contractual agreement whereby the publisher acquires the right to reproduce the work throughout the world also known as all rights.

Writers' guidelines

Publisher's editorial objectives or specifications, which usually include word lengths, readership level, and subject matter.

Writing sample

Example of your writing style, tone, and skills; may be a published or unpublished piece.

Young Adult Books

Readers 12 to 18 years. Romances written especially for adolescents and/or teenagers. Sweet Valley High is an example of a category young adult series.















































































































































































































































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