The Devil's Publishing Dictionary Part I: A through M
Advance - a sum paid to the author's agent after contract signing, as soon as the editor puts in a payment request to accounting, which is misplaced for three weeks to three months, re-requested, routed to senior editor for approval, misplaced again or completely forgotten until agent's fourth inquiry. The author may or may not see 30% of the agreed-upon advance, less that 15% owed to the agent, within a year of signing, upon publication of the contracted work, or when the author starves to death while living under a bridge, whichever comes first.
Advance Reading Copies - prepublication edition of the book that is not for sale, generally used to generate income for reviewers who sell them on eBay; also known as ARCs.
Agent - that person an author pays 15% of their writing income. The agent in return lives in New York, makes many phone calls, eats lunch with editors, goes to industry conferences and keeps the author away from the editor.
Backlist - all of the author's books in print that are no longer in print.
Blurbs - ringing but patently false endorsements of a book by buddies of the author, the author herself coyly pretending to be another author by using a pseudonym, or carefully-edited segments of bad reviews. Also known as cover quotes.
Book Doctor - a quack hired by an author to take most of the author's money in return for poorly editing the author's manuscript.
Copy Editor - 1) an undercover, superior writer who pretends to correct grammar and spelling in a manuscript while actually teaching idiot authors how to write books; 2) someone who chews gum, wears fake tattoos, has a first name that ends in -y and is obsessed with using ellipses.
Copyright - the author's legal right to ownership of the work under federal copyright laws that protects the author's only means of income; said shaky laws should collapse at any moment.
Cover Art - the design of the book jacket, generally produced in-house by the publisher's art department, all of whom are near-sighted psychotics who never actually read the book and routinely forget to take their meds.
Earn Out - to sell enough copies to earn the advance against royalties before the publisher applies reserves against returns and zeroes out the royalties.
E-book (electronic book) - a book published in electronic format that will be illegally copied a thousand times and, no matter how well-written, will not get any respect whatsoever from most of the publishing industry.
Editor - 1) a sadomasochist; 2)) a kind but crazy person who makes a career out of working with authors to improve their manuscripts; listens to their lies, tantrums and crying fits; extends their deadlines; meets with them over mystery chicken entrees at industry cons and suffers countless bouts of depression, con crud and tinitus as a result; 3) an industry professional who drinks Maalox or Jack Daniels for lunch.
Fiction - 1) a story created by an author that is then lifted, rewritten and published by another author; 2) anything you hear when an author's lips are moving.
Galley - a bound or unbound edition of a book riddled with typesetter errors, missing characters, scenes and pages that the author begs not be sent out for publicity purposes before publication.
Genre - engaging fiction that sells well; anything a literary author spits on or an academic author calls vulgar.
Ghost Writer - 1) a writer or co-writer who is paid very little to write a book but not to take credit for it, and says nothing when the celebrity who does take credit accepts praise from critics and natters on about how difficult the book was to write, etc.; 2) a talented chump who needs money.
Instant Book - any book rushed into print whose publisher has been pleading with its very famous author for years to turn it in (see the works of Thomas Harris and Stephen King.)
Jacket - the paper cover on a book that depicts something that bears no resemblance to anything in the story.
List Position - where in the publisher's pecking order a title ranks; generally decided by celebrity status, youth and/or hair color of the author. A lead title typically will be written by a 26 year old blonde former Ms. Arkansas who has breast implants and lisps when she speaks, or Dr. Phil.
Managing Editor - editor in charge. Of what, we're just not sure.
Mass Market - a smaller, cheaper edition of a hardcover novel that represents the author's entry into publishing's ghetto (see Paperback Writer's 'Hood.)
Memoir - a personal reflection or account that, when read aloud, does not allow the author to pass a lie detector test.
Mid-list - a title or author that does not become a bestseller; an author who is dumped by a publisher and replaced by a 26 year old blonde former Ms. Arkansas who has breast implants and lisps when she speaks, or Dr. Phil.
(To be continued -- feel free to add your own entry for the dictionary in comments)