Important Publishing Terminology

If you want to be a rich published author, you have to talk like one. Learn and understand these important words:

Money words

Advance: a measly few bucks paid to an author by a publisher when a contract is agreed on. It's probably not enough to buy Happy Meals for your kids at Mickey Dee's.

Agent: A bloodsucker who takes a 'piece of the action' if she is able to convince a publisher to give a contract to an author.

Back-of-the-room sales: Book sales made at a table, usually in the back of or just outside an auditorium, at an event such as a conference where the author is speaking. You can get rich selling this way because you steal the sales tax and don't report the income.
Bookland: A country created to reserve an EAN (originally European Article Number) Country Code for books, regardless of their country of origin. Bookland is located between Lower Slobovia and Grand Fenwick, and is north of Chelm and south of Oz. The country codes for Bookland are 978 and 979.

Bricks-and-mortar retailer: A physical store, as opposed to an online business (even if it's made of metal studs and Sheetrock, not bricks and mortar). These stores are quaint, amusing relics from the 18th century where you can often buy expensive coffee and use the rest room. Nobody buys books from them.
Chick lit: A dirty book aimed at women
Consignment: A business method common in book publishing that allows booksellers to return unsold books to the publishers. It adds to the cost of books and lowers your profit.

Copyright: Government-backed protection of creative work. The feds can’t protect anything, so it’s a waste of money.
Co-venture: A business entity where expenses and responsibilities are shared by more than one person or business and one gets screwed
Crowdfunding (crowdfinancing): A method of raising money for a project, such as book publishing, by pathetically begging lots of people for small donations. It’s often done through social media such as blogs and Facebook.
Discount: A percentage taken off the retail price of a book that is retained by a distributor, wholesaler, and retailer. Try not to give a discount. Booksellers should be glad to have the privilege of being associated with you. They don't need to make money on your books.
E-tailer: An online retailer like -- the future of book sales

Genre: General Reinsurance Corporation
Ghostwriter: A writer, paid by a publisher or another writer, to write or co-write a book for someone who is too stupid, lazy or busy to write a book. Frequently used by politicians and celebrities.
Hand selling: A personal book recommendation in a store -- a good way to get an infectious disease.
ISBN: International Standard Book Number, a unique, 13-digit number that identifies a version of a book. You can save money by copying the ISBN from another book.
ISPITA: Industrial Strength Pain in the Ass (much worse than a mere PITA), common in publishing

Keyword: A secret word you use to get the key to your locker at the gym

Permission: Agreement from a copyright holder to permit another person or entity to use copyrighted material. Not necessary

PITA: Pain In the Ass (not limited to publishing)
Publication date: The official date on which a book is allowed to be sold. It is often fictional and arbitrary because many books are sold before their “pub date.”
Remainders: Books that are discounted to low prices, often one dollar, because they are outdated, damaged, selling poorly or excess inventory. Authors whose books are remaindered can buy them for a dollar and then resell them on eBay or Amazon for their original price and make a lot of money.
Returns: Books sent back from a bookstore to a publisher for a refund because they did not sell. DO NOT allow returns. It's not your fault that a store failed to sell your books.
Royalty: Payment to an author after books are sold, usually a percentage of sales in the 8 to 15% range. Authors who publish their own books can make MUCH more money, even 20,000-50,000% per book.
Rule: A silly custom a modern author can ignore
Self-publishing: A writer’s becoming the publisher of her or his own books to quickly become rich and famous, like Mark Twain
Short discount: A smaller-than-usual discount from the cover price of a book. A standard discount is usually 45-50%. If you want to get rich, allow as small a discount as possible. Booksellers need you much more than you need them, and will gladly accept a discount in the 2-5% range.
Signature: Your name written in the front of the book so you can sell a book for $20 - $100 more than a book without a signature. You can actually have the signature printed in the book to save you time and avoid muscle ache. No one will know.
Trade paperback: What you can do with a book you no longer want
Wholesaler: A “middleman” company that buys books from a publisher and sells them to a retailer, raising the price of a book and stealing money from the author.

Other important words

Bleed: What editors and designers cause authors to do
Crop marks: Scars on authors' backs caused by vicious reviewers
Dingbat: Printers’ slang for small, icon-like drawings of hearts, snowflakes, and other cutesy shapes that can be used to dress up a document. Also, what Archie Bunker frequently called wife Edith on All in the Family. 
Fleuron: A flower-like decoration used to enhance a book or to divide sections. Last used in 1647.
Flong: A flong was originally a dry, papier-mâché mold made from type text which could be curved to fit the cylinder of a rotary press. Later flongs were wet, and made of plastic or rubber. Also, a sex toy used by lesbians in Peru.
Foreword: An introduction to a book, written by someone more famous than the author
Gerund: A part of speech frequently used, but seldom thought about after third grade. It’s a noun made from a verb, like “thinking” “hating,” and “sexual intercoursing.”

Gutter: someone who removes the guts from fish
Justified: How an author will feel after killing a book reviewer or editor
Kern: That’s the way some people born in Brooklyn pronounce “coin.” It's also a way to save space on a page and make type look better by overlapping two letters.

Margin: a  sweet, smooth cocktail made from marshmallows and gin
Offset printing: a cheap way to make books
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC): An advertising payment scheme in which the advertiser pays the operator of a website, particularly a search engine, every time someone is stupid enough to click on an ad that could lead to another website. You can cause a competitor to waste millions by repeatedly clicking on its ad. Haha.
Pilcrow: A symbol that looks like a backwards fancy “P” indicating where a new paragraph should begin. Try using it in a sentence, like “Steve’s a dumb pilcrow” or "The pilcrow was so overcooked I could not even bite into it."
Proofreading: An ancient, obsolete and quaint custom of reading typeset pages to find errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, or style before a book is printed. It's a waste of time and money.
Sans Serif: The city in France where ink was invented by a monk while trying to make pudding from brandy
Slush pile: what kids jump in when the snow is melting
Subhead: A vice president or queen.
Subtitle: Terms for second bananas like “vice president,” “sous chef” and “assistant professor”
Trim size: The size of a fingernail after a manicure
Typo: Short for typographical error, an error on a typed or printed page, sign, web page, etc. caused by equipment or finger failure, not by lack of knowledge. All books have typos and stupid mistakes. It's normal. Don’t worry about them.
URL: An alternate way of spelling “Earl”
Vanity press: Equipment used by a furniture maker to laminate wood used in vanities, dressers and night tables 
Virgule: A forward slash (/). It’s also the French word for “comma,” "virgin" and "parfait."