Friday, January 05, 2007


No Friday 20 today, as I'm off to the knee doc to get x-rayed, poked, prodded and pay him money for the pleasure. But as promised:

The Devil's Publishing Dictionary Part II: N through Z

Non-fiction - anything written that is stranger than fiction.

Novelist - a writer who cannot bear to end their short stories.

Novelization - 1) a fictional work written to cash in on the popularity of a television series, movie, or video game; 2) what science fiction and mystery writers write when they can't get contracts for their own ideas; 3) collectibles disguised as books.

Out of Print - a title no longer maintained in the publisher's catalogue or inventory, the rights to which the publisher controls to prevent the author from making any more money for the work and to exploit in the future if the author should ever become famous writing something else.

Packager - 1) a white slaver and copyright pirate pretending to be an author broker; 2) a publicity firm that puts together a cute ethnic student at Harvard with a publisher too busy to catch her plagiarizing better authors.

Paperback Writer - 1) a writer of mass market fiction; 2) a shadowy figure with at least 486 pseudonyms who publishes a blog by the same name; 3) what happens when a bruised dreamer refuses to become a cynic.

Prequel - a book an author writes when the publisher wants more novels in a series that the author ended five years ago.

Print Run - the number of copies actually produced; about one-third of the number of copies the publisher tells the author will be in the print run.

Pub Date - 1) the scheduled release date for the book after it has been changed at least three times; 2) not the release date the author announces to the readers; 3) the date a reprint is released with new cover art to fool the casual buyer into believing it to be a new work.

Query - a ten-page single-spaced letter sent by a writer to an editor, in which the writer recounts their tragic life story, describes how much they've suffered for their craft, lists every award, pin and runner-up prize won from their writer organization, mentions the name of every famous author the writer has imagined meeting and hanging out with, and a odd rambling paragraph that might be a description of the writer's latest protagonist, ex-spouse, or critique partner, all which the writer refers to as a proposal or a pitch.

Remaindered - that over which an author either weeps or laughs, depending on whose name is on the cover.

Returns - copies of books not returned by the bookstores or wholesalers to the publisher but for which they get credit because they strip off the cover and claim they destroy them, the royalties for which are deducted from the author's advance, which has probably not been paid to the author yet (see Advance.)

Reviewer - 1) a person who truly believes that they are a gentle, intelligent and learned individual who is supporting the publishing industry by writing thoughtful opinions of books; 2) someone who maintains that all writing except their own is subject to the harshest amount of criticism possible; unless it's an author they're fangirling; 3) the highest evolved form of Archaeplastida, 4) anyone who can't understand why they keep buying an author's books because they all, all suck, but still does and takes the time to write a five-paragraph, one-star review, or who has a seven-year-old who can write better the author, or who suggests using books as substitutes for feminine menstrual hygiene products; 5) a yutz with a credit card and a hair up a southern orifice.

Royalties - percentage of the sales price earned by the author on sold copies prior to the application of reserves against returns by the publisher (see Earn Out.)

SASE - short for stamped self-addressed envelope, which the writer will likely to forget to include with all submitted articles, proposals and manuscripts

Self-published - produced by the author, ignored by the industry.

Sequel - a continuation of an earlier book that sold better than the publisher expected.

Small Press - 1) the publisher of authors who can't sell to major publishers; 2) the last stop for a multi-rejected proposal; 3) the last resort for a science fiction writer's version of The Book of Your Heart.

Subsidiary Rights (Sub Rights) - sales of rights for foreign translation, first serial, audio, electronic, film, book club, etc. editions of an author's book, for which the author will not get paid for some time (see Advance, Royalties.)

Trade Paperback - 1) a larger format paperback, commonly used by publishers to give an illusion of respectability to a novel that was not projected to sell well in hardcover; 2) the worst mistake Harlequin made with Luna.

Trade Publisher - publisher of books geared for sale to people who are too busy with work to read fiction.

Vanity Press - 1) a pay-to publisher that claims to be an author's best friend and business partner; 2) where authors go after being rejected by the last resort (see small press); 3) writer-dream vultures.

Writer - 1) a masochist with an ink and paper fetish; 2) a damaged creative individual who when confronted with life's unpleasantries retreats to put it all down in words rather than fight like a girl; 3) someone who never forgets anything and will eventually write it in book form; 4) a demented, thin, sad creature in hock up to their neck who truly believes publication will solve all their problems; 5) Peter Pan one step up on the evolutionary ladder.


  1. Novelist describes me perfectly.


  2. geeez, no wonder i suck at queries

  3. Anonymous8:19 AM

    Novelist - a writer who cannot bear to end their short stories.

    Can I please print that on my morning coffe mug? Or tattoo it on my forehead? lol

    Great list!

  4. Why am I Laughing????

  5. Trilogy- making one book into three so I can watch my time and money fly out the window.

  6. Good work. I hope all went well with the knee. I go back on the 22nd for mine.

  7. Ambrose Bierce has NOTHING on you.

  8. Anonymous3:39 PM

    As noted in the comment thread of the previous installment, I got to having too much fun with my comments on these posts, so I moved mine here.

    Cheers --


  9. Novelization - (4) The canny movie producer's way of making bookstores pay them for the privilege of displaying posters for their movie; interior contents unimportant.

  10. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Chris, that definition would work better if it weren't like pulling teeth to get the movie people to release a usable piece of art in time for it to appear on the cover of the finished book.


  11. Anonymous11:18 PM

    And even more genius. This is brilliant stuff!

  12. If someone were to find, stitch together, and reanimate Ambrose Bierce, I'm sure he would apporve.

  13. Anonymous1:42 PM

    Jean wrote: Good work. I hope all went well with the knee. I go back on the 22nd for mine.

    I got me a fancy new brace, and brownie points for doing my phys therapy at home over the holidays. The x-rays, eh. Escher probably would have found them inspirational.

    Good luck with yours, pal.

  14. Anonymous1:54 PM

    Pari wrote: I'm a WRITER published by a SMALL PRESS. Oh, hell.

    I have you beat -- I'm a SELF-PUBLISHED MIDLIST GHOSTWRITER-PAPERBACKWRITER-WRITER of MASS MARKET GENRE FICTION. In PublishingLand, you don't get any more ghetto than me, unless you're an African-American or gay.

    D'ya mind if I post these links to some other professional writers' lists?

    Sure, no problem -- and thank you.

  15. 4) a demented, thin, sad creature in hock up to their neck who truly believes publication will solve all their problems;

    I'm demented and sad but definitely not thin - does this mean I'm not a writer? Gosh, I'd better lose some weight! (I'd better do that anyway - I have nightmares about finally becoming published and facing the inevitable publicity photos.)


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