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Following are some terms that you need to be familiar with before sending a manuscript out for publication.
Advance - the amount the publisher pays to the author before the book is actually published.
ARCS stands for Advance Review Copies. These are not yet finalized copies of the book sent out to reviewers.
Blurb - a description of the book made in one paragraph.
Contributor’s copy - At times, a copy of the book being published or the magazine in which the article appears is sent to the author. Unfortunately, sometimes this is the only form of payment.
Copyright - Whoever buys the copyright from you has the legal right to publish, distribute and sell whatever work they bought from you.
Cover letter - A letter, sent with your submission, in which you introduce yourself to the publisher.
Electronic rights - When you give a publisher electronic rights, you give (hopefully sell) them the right to publish your work in a digital format, such as CD-Rom or online.
Galleys - another word for ARCS, but the pages are not always bound together.
Guidelines - Each publisher has its own set of instructions on how they would like a manuscript to be formatted and submitted. These instructions can normally be found on the publisher’s website. If not, write and ask for them. If you submit your article or story in a way other than what is set out in their guidelines, it won’t even be looked at. It pays, literally, to strictly follow guidelines.
ISBN - International Standard Book Number
Page rate - the author is paid by the page
Payment on acceptance - The publisher pays you when your work is accepted for publication. You will receive your pay much sooner than if you are not paid until your story or article is published, which could be months.
Payment on publication - The publisher pays you when your work is published.
Pen name - Another word for pen name is pseudonym. A pen name is used when an author does not want his or her real name to be associated with what is written. If previous works have flopped, if the subject matter tends to cause a lot of controversy or if it would put the author’s life in danger are some good reasons for using a pseudonym.
Print on demand - Instead of a large number of books being printed at once, each book is printed as it is sold.
Proofreading - When someone proofreads your manuscript, he checks it for grammatical mistakes and misspellings. This is work, so if you hire someone to do this, you will have to pay him.
Query - A query is a question. A query is a letter sent to a publisher or agent asking if he or she would be interested in seeing your work. In a query you would introduce yourself and list any credentials/education you have. There should be a hook in your query which should be no longer than several paragraphs. Rules for submitting queries can usually be found on the websites of agents and publishers.
Reading fee - Once upon a time, reading fees were commonly charged by publishers. Why? It takes time to read a manuscript and decide if you want to publish it. Abuse of this practice, though, led to publishers charging fees to read manuscripts without any intention of publishing them. Those who charged reading fees began to be looked upon as not so honest, so reading fees were replaced by evaluation fees. If a writer pays an evaluation fee, his manuscript is supposed to be read and evaluated, with both its strengths and weaknesses pointed out.
You should never have to pay an agent or publisher. Good agents are members of the AAR, Association of Author Representatives. The AAR forbids both reading fees and evaluation fees. Real agents make their money by receiving a commission when your book sells.
Response time - The length of time it will take a publisher to let you know whether or not he or she is interested in your work.
Royalty - the amount of money the author receives for each copy of the book that sells.
SASE - Self addressed stamped envelope. If you would like your manuscript returned to you if it is rejected by the publisher, you need to have sent one of these along with your manuscript. Make sure it has sufficient postage so your work will make it back to you.
Slush pile - This is where unsolicited manuscripts end up. Sometimes they are read, sometimes not.
Synopsis - A summary of the book from beginning to end. It tells most everything that happens and is usually only a few pages long. These are often sent with the submission.
Vanity publisher - Anyone can have their work published by a vanity publisher. The only catch is that the author has to pay for its publication. There are a few authors who do this and become an overnight or what seems like a near-overnight success. Then there are those who are never noticed.
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