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The Ultimate Glossary of Publishing Terms to Brush Up On

Everywhere in life, we come across a few fancy words that sound like special jargon you can't quite get ahold of. This is especially true for those looking to publish a book -- and although the list is long, it's easy to familiarize yourself.

Whether you're looking to self-publish, go through a company, or are looking to become an agent, then this glossary of publishing terms is the best way to know what to expect when publishing.



1) Recognition or honor given to people who have influenced the book being published or who have made a difference in the life of the author.

2) Section of a book containing such recognition.

Author Review

The phase in which the author will review cover and galley proofs and either approve for print or make revisions


To bleed means to extend outside the normal trim area of a book's page. A bleed is a bar, illustration, rule or other element that extends outside the trim area. Such elements have ink that is visible on the edge of the page in the bound book

Book Block

PDF files that comprise all book content except the cover

Book Consultant

Author’s book sales representative. Assists author with all book orders.

Book Pricing

Retail pricing based on trim size, page count, and interior format (black and white versus color)

Check In Coordinator

Representative whose job it is to evaluate all submitted materials to determine if it meets publisher qualifications. Helps author to prepare publishing materials for production and design team.

Comp Copy

First printed copy of the completed book sent to author to be reviewed for any print errors.

Content Editor

Person who edits the content (subject matter) of a book in addition to its form (sentence structure). A content editor often recommends substantive corrections to a manuscript, such as those affecting presentation, veracity, relevance and so forth.

Content Evaluation

Analysis of books content to ensure the originality of content. The content is also evaluated for any libel issues.


Ownership of intellectual property such as printed matter, protected by law. The right to copy, repurpose or publish content of the copyrighted medium.

Cover Design

Aesthetic layout on the covers of a book, usually intended to be attractive or alluring to the eye.

Cover Sign-Off

A form the author signs attesting that the cover of the book is complete and authorized to send to the printer exactly as it appears in the electronic proofs.

Design (Book and Cover)

Layout, selection of font and font size and typesetting of a book. See Cover Design.

Developmental Editor

Person who deals with the overall organization of a book's manuscript rather than with changes such as wording of sentences within paragraphs. A developmental editor also addresses reordering entire blocks of text and such an edit may extend to reordering entire chapters. The edit may also address tone, voice, addition or deletion of material, complexity of material and transitions among paragraphs and sections of the book.


Availability of book to nationwide retailers.


Company, group or individual who sells products or services to retailers instead of to consumers.


Written statement promoting the author or book. Usually listed on the cover or the front matter of the book.

Editorial Assessment

Sections of an author’s manuscript are evaluated for its editorial quality and publishing readiness. Includes a short sample edit.


1) Process by which a design team lays out a manuscript to create book pages.

2) Text effect applied to characters to make them appear bold, italic, sheared or otherwise.

Front Matter

Any material preceding the beginning chapters of the book including the table of contents, dedication, acknowledgements, introduction, and foreword.


The interior text of the book.

Galley Sign-Off

A form the author signs attesting that the interior of the book is complete and authorized to send to the printer exactly as it appears in the electronic proofs.


Broad category or kind of book, generally denoted by the book's subject matter. Some examples of book genres include romance, sci-fi, self-help and true crime.

Hard Return

Occurs when the “enter” or “return” key is used at the end of a line of text rather than allowing the natural wraparound of the text to the next line.


All content within the book. Everything except the cover.


Important word or phrase that is input to conduct searches on online search engines and databases to find all related results.


Library of Congress Control Number. The publisher will apply for this with the Library of Congress on the author’s behalf and include on the copyright page of book.

Line Editor

Person who performs an edit that is heavier than a typical copyedit and who considers a book's voice, tone and phrasing. Fiction line editing considers the story's pacing, character development, handling of details and vocabulary of the period and place where the novel is set and the naturalness and effectiveness of dialogue. A line editor also focuses on correcting errors in grammar, punctuation and writing style.


Complete version of a book (often as an electronic text file) as prepared by the author. The term manuscript refers to both textual and graphic elements of the book. Editors and authors make preproduction book alterations to the manuscript. The finalized manuscript is used to produce a set of book pages.

Marketing Consultant (MC)

An author’s representative in the marketing department who will assist author with the understanding and purchase of marketing services. The MC helps an author determine which marketing services will suit their book and publishing package best.

Offset Printing

Common printing technology that applies layers one at a time. A reverse image of each color interfaces with the page via a roller. The roller presses against the paper applying the proper color of ink.


1) Agreement from a copyright holder that permits the reproduction or publication of copyrighted material

2) Process of securing agreements from copyright holder.

Prepare for Design

The design consultant evaluates all of the submitted materials one last time to ensure that everything is in order and ready to be moved into the design phase.

Print-on-Demand (POD)

Publishing arrangement in which books are printed only as orders are placed.


The process of designing the book’s interior and cover. The production team consist of an author’s design consultant, customer service, book designer, and cover designer. Once all production materials have been submitted and evaluated, the book will enter production.


An electronic copy of the book galley or cover submitted to the author for review.


Read-through of typeset material to ensure that content matches the book's manuscript. Incorrect grammar, punctuation, spelling or usage, is queried to the editor.

Publishing Consultant (PC)

An author’s representative who will help the author determine which publishing package will best meet an author’s needs.

Publishing Services Associate (PSA)

Customer service representative who acts as an author’s point of contact throughout production process. Also acts as a liaison between the author and designers.


Book returned to and refunded by the publisher after failing to sell on the bookstore shelf. Only the front covers of mass-market paperbacks need be returned to qualify for the refund.


Payment to a book's author that is usually a percentage of sales revenue.


System of book production in which the author generally assumes the financial risk of publication. The self-publishing model circumvents the need for an author to contract with a publishing house to ensure publication of the book. A self-published book is also usually distributed and marketed by its author.

Target Audience

Specific group of people whom a book, series or genre targets. Book marketing tends to be concentrated on the target audience.

Title Live

This represents a book’s status after it has completed the production process and has been activated by the printer for sale.

Trim Size

Final physical dimensions of a book page after the book is bound and trimmed.


If you've published before -- or if you are a publisher -- then what terms have we missed? Which terms come up that often cause confusion but has a simple definition? Let us know below or shout out to us on Twitter.

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