After I received "the call," I quickly realized that publishing is an alternate universe only occasionally intersecting with our own. It even has its own language, which is puzzling at first for the newly "acquired." I recently ran across this publishing glossary. It might have made my transition easier had I found it earlier, but now just tickles me silly. I've excerpted it here, but if you'd like to read more, please visit www.rightreading.com. My comments are in italics.
ADVANCE: A secret code signaling to the marketing department whether or not to promote a title. (This code is so secret, I've yet to hear anyone in the business admit to it!)
AUTHOR: A large class of individuals (approximately three times as numerous as readers) serving a promotional function in book marketing or providing make-work for editorial interns.
AUTHOR BIO: A piece of creative writing whose length varies inversely with the attractiveness of the person depicted in the AUTHOR PHOTO.
AUTHOR PHOTO: Pictorial fiction. Authors always choose photos that emphasize that quality in which they feel most deficient. (Guilty as charged. I'll take whatever help Glamour Shots can give me!)
BACKLIST: Unsold inventory.
BLURB: A brief noise that embarrasses everyone. (At many publishing houses--mine included--the author does not write the cover blurb. The blurb isn't there to give readers a taste of the author's style. It's there to sell the book and may foreshadow events which never actually happen in the story!)
BOOK DISTRIBUTION: An elaborate system testing the commitment of readers by making sure they cannot obtain specific books too easily. (It's almost like 'Where's Waldo?')
BOOK REVIEW: A recycled press release offered to publishers by newspaper and magazine sales departments as an inducement to advertising. (Occasionally I know for certain a reviewer has not read my book because they referenced a scene mentioned in the not-written-by-me blurb as one they liked/disliked!)
COLLABORATION: A relationship in which one author exploits another. (I don't think any of the IMMORTALS authors would agree. That series has been wildly successful and involved intense collaboration in world-building. My upcoming anthology A CHRISTMAS BALL was a delight to work on. Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson and I all placed our characters at the same grand event. We had to coordinate the time period, decor, even a floorplan for the host's mansion. It was fun!)
COMMERCIAL FICTION: The notion of publishing as a way of making money. (This one has 'em rolling in the aisles in New York!)
COMP COPIES: A publisher’s entire inventory, according to the urgings of his friends and colleagues. (Actually, Dorchester has been terrific about giving me the comp copies I need. They popped for all the Vexing the Viscounts I gave away during my 50day/50blog tour, in addition to the number of comps agreed to in my contract!)
DEADLINE: An item that exists to be renegotiated and revised. In his famous paradox, the Greek philosopher Zeno proved that deadlines can never be met. (Authors tend to 'pooh-pooh' deadlines, but I wish more writers would take them seriously. Perhaps it's because I'm a railroader's daughter and punctuality was next to godliness in our house. Or perhaps it's because one of my books, which was turned in on time, got bumped out of a bookclub distribution because a lead author failed to turn her manuscript in on time, which led to shuffling and scurrying all around. I didn't realize, and I'm sure the other author didn't either, that a missed deadline could negatively impact someone else's career. See? I told you publishing is an alternate universe.)
EDITOR: A writer with a day job. (We laugh, but frankly, I doubt this is the case for most of them. An editor's job requires wearing far more hats than most writers would care to don.)
FANTASY: An author's sales aspirations.
FOREIGN MARKET: The part of the country outside New York City.
GALLEYS: Rows of cubicles staffed by entry-level editors. (Galleys actually are the final proof before the work goes to print. They come, two pages of type per piece of paper, arranged in the same way as the final book will appear. Publishing is constantly streamlining the process. Even in the short length of time I've been published, since 2006, we've eliminated paper submission of manuscripts. Revisions are routinely handled by email. Eventually, galleys will probably be electronic too).
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS: The best place to hide from a congressman. (Interns take note!)
LITERATURE: Designation applied to titles judged unsaleable. (I'm reminded of the Mark Twain quote: "A classic is something everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read!")
MIDLIST: A term applied to books that sell in only moderate numbers, a category that covers approximately 99 percent of the entire sales range.
NET RECEIPTS: Gross receipts after discounts, fees, hurts, and returns are deducted, usually a negative number. (Deciphering my first royalty statement was only slightly less complicated than decoding hieroglyphics!)
OPTION CLAUSE/RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL: Motivational fiction. (Au contraire, option clauses have been good for me. Dorchester has a reputation for building careers. They gave me my first shot. It seems only fair to give them first pick of my output.)
PLAGIARISM: Research. (As writers, we are constantly trying to create something fresh. All I can say is, if we want 'intellectual property' to mean something, we'd better make sure the words we claim are our own.)
PUBLICATION DATE (PUB DATE): A sliding holiday based on the phases of the moon.
REJECTION LETTER (FORM): A condensed restraining order serving to justify requests for SASEs.
REJECTION LETTER (PERSONAL): A formulaic literary genre, premised on justifying not reading or misreading a manuscript, in which the narrator grossly exposes both deep character flaws and an absolute blindness to them.
SHELF LIFE: Bookworms.
SPINE: Once an essential aspect of any book, spines are no longer found in the publishing industry. (On this side of the publishing looking glass, given the state of the economy, I'm seeing some amazing examples of almost British 'stiff upper-lips' in New York. Publishing will weather this recession if we all hang together.)
TRADE PAPERBACKS: What readers do instead of purchasing new books. (Personally, I'm thrilled when my readers think enough of my work to share it with their friends. Of course, buying another copy to share so they can plunk one on their 'keeper' shelf is even better, but either way, the more eyes I have on my books, the happier I am!)
Hope you enjoyed this little tongue-in-cheek look at publishing. If you'd like a peek at the whole lexicon, please visit www.rightreading.com. I appreciate them letting me borrow a bit to share with you today. (You see, it's not plagiarism if you footnote properly!)