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A Writers Glossary (Part One)

Find definitions from A to G!

~~~~~~~~~~~ A ~~~~~~~~~~~

About the Author -
usually a few paragraphs to one page that describes the author. Written in 3rd person. Used for books, book proposals and sometimes articles.

Advance -
The amount of money paid to a writer by a publisher before a book is published. The amount varies depending upon a variety of factors like: the publisher; the writer's background; and the type of book. Advances are sometimes paid in installments as the writer works toward publication. The payments come from the projected royalties of the book.

Advertorial -
An article or copy created by a writer that is being paid for by an advertiser (or "advertiser driven"). This definition can be complicated because while they may pay well, a writer must protect herself ethically by making sure her work is marked as advertising in some way or making sure her name does not appear on it. It is also to your benefit to specify from the beginning how many rewrites you're willing to do.

Agent -
a liason between a writer and their publisher or editor. They try to sell the manuscript to a publisher or editor and they usually take a 10-15% fee from the royalties and the advance.

All Rights or Work-for-Hire -
This means that the publication you're writing a piece for owns your work once it is submitted to them. Unlike "First Rights" - this type of deal prevents you from ever reselling your work and/or making money on it other than the one time payment you receive from them.

Anthology -
a collection of short stories written by various authors, compiled in a journal or a book, or a gathering of works by one author.

Assignment -
an article the publisher or editor has assigned to a writer for an agreed upon fee.

Attachments -
clips attached to an e-mail query. -(2) -research, photos, or charts, usually attached to a nonfiction book.

~~~~~~~~~~ B ~~~~~~~~~~

Backlist -
Books that are still in print, but are not being published during the current season.

Bio -
A short paragraph, usually less than 100 words, that tells about the writer.

Biography -
A life story of someone other than the writer.

Blank Verse -
Nonrhyming poetry, usually written in iambic pentameter.

Boilerplate -
A standard contract. Most agents and/or authors make many changes on the boilerplate.

Business size envelope -
A #10 envelope which is the standard size for sending business correspondence.

Byline -
The line (usually printed below the title of a published article) that states the name of the writer and to credit her with writing the piece.

~~~~~~~~~~~ C ~~~~~~~~~~~

C.V. or curriculum vitae -
Simply put - your resume.

CC or Contributor's copy -
This usually means a copy or copies of a book or magazine sent to a writer whose work appears in that publication. Sometimes publishers offer this as a form of compensation instead of monetary payment to a writer whose work they choose to publish.

Category Fiction -
Includes all types of fiction. See also genre.

Chapbook -
A small booklet of poetry, ballads, or tales.

Clean copy -
a manuscript free of wrinkles, smudges, cross-outs, and errors.

Clips -
Copies of a writer's published work, usually taken from newspapers or magazines, which serve as samples for prospective editors.

Column Inch -
The amount of space in one column inch of typeset for newspapers.

Commercial novels -
A general term referring to novels designed to appeal to a large audience. Often broken into categories such as romance, mystery, western, etc. See genre.

Copyediting -
Editing a manuscript for printing style, punctuation, and grammar, but not for the subject matter.

Copyright -
A means to designate ownership, and protect an author's work. Most publishers will copyright the text in the name of the author so that when the work goes out of print, all rights return to the author and the book can be sold to another publisher.

Cover Letter -
A short (usually one page) introduction letter usually sent with a manuscript to remind the editor that the manuscript was requested. A cover letter may also be sent with a book proposal. It is not the same as a query letter.

Creative Nonfiction -
Nonfiction in the 1st person, that uses creative language and an innovative approach to the subject.

~~~~~~~~~~ D ~~~~~~~~~~

DF -
An abbreviation for dark fiction usually meaning the genre of dark fantasy.

Derivative Work -
An alteration of a previous work by annotating, condensing, adapted, translated, abridged, etc... This must have the written permission of the copyright owner of the original work.

Desktop Publishing -
A publishing method for a personal computer that can illustrate, layout, print, design, and typeset for distribution.

Distributor -
A company that provides services to publishers like - warehousing, fullfillment and marketing to bookstores.

Dummy -
Mock-up of a book with that includes: page breaks; illustrations; and text.

~~~~~~~~~~~ E ~~~~~~~~~~~

Eclectic -
A variety of different genres or writing styles.

Editor -
Chooses articles or novels and edits writing.

Editing Service -
A company that offers to copyedit, rewrite or provide similar assistance (for a fee) to writers. Many organizations for writers supply information on the quality and legitimacy of such companies.

Electronic Rights -
The definition of electronic rights or Web rights is not clear-cut at this point. Many publishers feel they have electronic rights when they buy "First Rights." Most freelance writers disagree. The courts are going back and forth on the definition of this term. If a publisher's contract includes "electronic rights" - you may want to specify how long you give them permission to keep your work published on the Web and/or try to negotiate additional payment for giving them "electronic rights."

Electronic Submission -
A submission of an article or book proposal, manuscript or similar work sent to the editor electronically (usually by e-mail or on computer disk).

Experimental Fiction -
A term that usually applies to fiction that can be defined as innovative in content or style.

E-zine -
A magazine published online.

~~~~~~~~~~ F ~~~~~~~~~~

Fair Use -
A portion of the copyright law stating small passages from copyrighted material may be used without the owner's permission.

First Rights or First American Serial Rights -
This usually means the rights that you sell, even if you do a story on assignment. It means you give the publication the right to run your piece one time and then the rights come back to you. It is to your benefit to specify "First Rights" on your work as this allows you to resell your work after the initial publication.

Fanzine -
Usually refers to a publication produced by speculative fiction fans, which features fan-written stories about characters from popular published stories.

Feature -
An article about human interests instead of news. Used in magazines to describe a distinctive department or a lead article.

Filler -
A short item used to complete a magazine or newspaper page such as: short humor, an anecdote, a timeless news item or light verse.

First person point of view -
The author reports or narrates the story from his or her point of view.

Flash Fiction -
Very short fiction pieces that vary in length from 100 words to 1,000 words depending upon the genre.

Flat Fee -
Same as "work-for-hire." The illustrator or author is paid a lump sum for their work, and gets no royalties.

Formulaic Fiction -
Fiction that tells a story following a pre-formatted formula.

Frontlist -
Books published in the current season and shown in the publisher's current catalogue.

~~~~~~~~~~ G ~~~~~~~~~~~

Galleys -
The first typeset of a manuscript before it's been divided.

Genre/Category -
A term used to classify a writer's work according to its content. Some examples of different types of genres include - erotica, gothic, mystery, poetry, romance, science fiction, and western.

Ghost Writer-
A book, story, article, or speech that is based on another person's experience or ideas. No byline given for the writer.

GL or Guidelines -
The publisher's instructions for writers to follow in order to submit their work to that publication.

Gothic Novel -
A genre or category of fiction that usually has a pretty young woman, a castle or mansion, a menace, and a hero.

? Danielle Hollister (2004) is the Publisher of the Free Ezine for Writers featuring news, reviews, and continuously updated links to the best resources for writers online like - freelancing & jobs, markets & publishers, literary agents, classes & contests, and more... Read it online at -

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