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A Writer's Glossary - Part Three

Guest Author - Danielle Hollister

A Writer's Glossary - Part Three



  • Query -
    A letter written by a writer asking an editor if she is interested in a piece on a certain topic. This is not the same as a cover letter. A Query introduces the idea, outlines your qualifications for writing it, and lists your previously published pieces.

  • Reader -
    A person who reads unsolicited manuscripts for an editor, usually for the purpose of weeding out those manuscripts that are unwanted.
  • Reading Fee -
    A charge to the author ostensibly for the purpose of defraying the cost of time spent reading the author's manuscript or the hiring of readers. Too often, these charges may constitute the only business income or a significant portion thereof. Consequently, P&E does not recommend any publisher or agency that uses a reading fee.
  • Royalty -
    Payment by publisher that is an agreed upon percentage of the book's earnings.
  • Royalty Publisher -
    A publisher who pays the author.
  • RT -
    Response time. Generally, the turnaround time required to hear back from a publisher based upon when the manuscript was submitted.

  • SASE -
    A self-addressed, stamped envelope. SASEs are required if the author wishes to receive an answer from an editor. The SASE should be large enough and carry enough postage to return the manuscript if it is rejected. If the author doesn't want the manuscript returned, a note to that effect should be included, but a letter-sized SASE is still required for the editor's response. If the author requests any information from the editor, such as writer's guidelines, an SASE should be enclosed.
  • Second Rights -
    The rights you sell to a publication for your work that has already been published somewhere else.
  • SF/F/H -
    Abbreviation for science fiction/fantasy/horror, generally used to indicate what genres the publication accepts as submissions.
  • Slipstream -
    A story that describes a genre that does not fit into any one particular genre.

    Speculative Humor -
    Humorous fiction with a foundation of fantasy, horror, or science fiction.

    Sub-genre -
    An additional categorization of a particular genre.

  • Simultaneous Submissions -
    Submitting a work to several publishers at the same time. Some publishers accept simultaneous submissions, others will refuse to even look at them. The author should always state when a work is being submitted to more than one publisher.
  • Slush Pile -
    A stack of unsolicited manuscripts that have arrived at an editor or publisher's office. These manuscripts will usually be read - unless the editor or publisher specifically states they will not read unsolicited works - but with less speed, interest, or enthusiasm than works submitted on spec or other request.
  • Subsidy/Vanity Publisher -
    A publisher that requires an author to pay for the publication of his or her work.
  • Synopsis -
    A brief summary of a work. Depending on the length of the piece, the synopsis make be from one paragraph to several pages long. The synopsis is not the same as an outline, as it rarely carries elements such as chapter headings.

  • Tagline -
    The identification of the speaker in dialogue. (For example: “She said”)
  • Tearsheets -
    Another word for Clips - or a copy of your work that has been published.
  • Trade book -
    A paperback or hardcover book which usually covers a special interest, and is marketed directly to the layperson.

  • Unsolicited Manuscript -
    A manuscript send to an editor or publisher without it being requested. Unsolicited manuscripts normally end up on the slush pile.

  • Vanity Publisher -
    A publisher that charges you to publish your book.

  • Work-for-hire -
    A piece of writing that is written to an editor or publisher's request and all rights to the work belong to the publication. The writer gives up the copyright to this work and can never receive additional income from it, even if it is resold.

    Short Short -
    fiction under 1000 words.

    Short Story -
    fiction under 10,000 words but usually less than 7,500. In Sci Fi it's less tha 7,500 words. Check submission guidelines because they are individual for each publisher.

    Side Bar -
    nonfiction such as extra info, tips, or hints that are put aside from the main article, usually for magazines. You may get extra pay if you can include this.

    Slug line -
    (1)a journalism term for the identifying tag of a story, (2)a line in a screenplay describing a new scene.

    Sonnet -
    a fourteen line poem, usually a lyric in iambic pentameter.

    Speculative Fiction -
    combines elements of Science Fiction and Fantasy or covers all forms of beyond reality fiction.

    Stanza -
    a group of lines in a poem that form a thematic or metrical paragraph.

    Submission Guidelines -
    guidelines given by the publisher or the editor for submitting manuscripts or queries to the publisher.

    Subsidiary Rights -
    sales of your book by your agent or publisher to other outlets such as movie studios, foreign publishers, book clubs, or magazines. If the publisher sells these rights, proceeds are split with the author (usually 50/50). If the agent sell these rights, the author keeps all the proceeds except the agent's commission.

    Trim Size -
    the outer dimensions of the finished book.

    YA -
    Young Adult -13 to 22, between 20,000 and 45,000 words.

    YW -
    Young Writer between the ages of 12 and 22.


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Content copyright © 2013 by Danielle Hollister. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Danielle Hollister. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bluedolphin Crow for details.

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