Important Publishing Industry Definitions
The Publishing Industry :: An established massive acquisition and distribution organization of impactful and inspiring ideas (aka books) that inspire readers to buy and benefit from reading them. Book sales from readers then translate into the acquisition and distribution of even more powerful ideas and books. The established publishing industry operates in very specific ways.
Query Letter :: This is your first impression with a literary agent and is usually an email. Your query letter should stand alone to represent your book and interest a literary agent to ask to read your manuscript.
Book Proposal :: A requirement for non-fiction, it details the concept of your book and gives concrete reasons why it has bestseller potential.
Manuscript :: Before your book is flying off the shelf, literary agents and publishers call your book a manuscript. The words "finished manuscript" are gold for first-time authors in query letters and book proposals. A party-finished manuscript is a harder sell for first-time authors.
Word Count :: This determines the size of your manuscript use word count - not page count, especially in query letters and book proposals. Knowing this shows you are a professional writer and not a first-timer.
On Spec :: The work a first-time author does up front for free because 99.9% of the time they must finish their book first before they sell it.
Sample Chapters :: If your non-fiction manuscript (book) isn’t finished, you will need at least a few impressive sample chapters to submit. For fiction, generally you must have a finished manuscript before submitting it. Although you'll send a potential literary agent a few sample chapters to see if they want to read your entire manuscript.
Successful Authors:: Brave souls who learn what it takes to write a book in alignment with established publishing industry standards.
Frustrated Writers:: Writers who try to get their books published without first learning how the publishing industry works and make the same first-time author mistakes over and over again.
Frustrated Writer Syndrome :: What first-time authors experience when they make the same first-time author mistakes over and over and then blame the publishing industry for not accepting their manuscript.
Slush Pile / Circular file :: Basically this is the trash, and not where you want your manuscript to go. Usually manuscripts go into the slush pile because they make first-time author mistakes.
Author Platform :: An established network of support, recognition, partnerships, or fame you have already built that potentially will translate into book sales.
Hit A Universal Nerve :: This is what happens when your book solves a problem millions of people have or it touches on a subject that is important to millions of people.
Bestseller :: A book that sells a lot of copies because it hits a universal nerve to benefit, educate or entertain a large audience.
Bestselling Concept :: What makes your book connect to millions of readers.
Literary Agent :: A matchmaker between an author and a publisher who generally charges 15% for their expertise and services.
Editor :: Either you or your literary agent submits your book proposal and/or manuscript to targeted editors at publishing houses. If they are passionate about your work, editors will propose to their publisher to purchase the rights to your book. You may also privately commission an independent editor (one not working at a publishing house) to review and comment on your work before you submit to agents or editors at publishing houses. This is highly recommended.
Publisher :: A company or person that prepares and creates books, journals, or music for sale. If an author signs with a publisher, they can expect that publisher prepare their book for market, release it, and promote it.
Publishing Cycle :: The process of transforming manuscript into an actual book for sale that can take up to a year or more.
Submission :: The sum total of all the selling materials you need to send to literary agents and publishers to inspire them to offer you representation or a book contract.
Submission Guidelines:: A set of instructions every to follow where literary agents and publishers detail exactly how they want to be approached and what materials to send to win their heart and a chance at representation and a book deal.
Commercial Fiction :: Fiction written for a mass audience, which the publishing industry translates into potential book sales. There are a myriad of ways to present your book as commercial and keep its integrity.
First-time Author Mistakes :: The mistakes authors make when they don't understand how the publishing industry works that can hurt their chances of getting published.
Craft :: This is an author's particular writing style that is perfected through editing. It is the art of making the writing flow and in some cases lyrical.
Literary Research & Development :: What successful writers do before they write their book to make sure it meets industry standards and is appealing enough to sell.
Being Commercial :: A book that benefits, educates and/or entertains a large audience in a powerful way.
Evergreen Appeal :: A book that solves a problem for a large population or will maintain popularity for decades to come. For example, a book on making more money has evergreen appeal.
Cut Through Concept :: Instantly understood, memorable, and repeatable - it's the perfect two-sentence pitch that publishing professionals can use to sell your book.
Irrefutable Benefit :: A benefit you can't deny that is good for you or society at large.
Easy Sell: A book whose irrefutable benefit is the answer to a problem that a large audience has. The book concept is an "easy yes" for publishing houses.