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PROLOGUE

“He is a pompous ass!”

“I agree. But he is also a big name and he has to be kept happy if we are going to pull this acquisition off successfully.”

Paige sat and fumed. She couldn’t believe that Jeanmarie was asking her to charm and entertain this male chauvinist pig who penned a weekly column on how men were God’s gift to women.

“Why can’t you just buy him dinner and tickets to a Broadway show for him and one of his many adoring hordes?”

“Excuse me?” Jeanmarie grinned mischievously.

“I said hordes.” Paige emphasized the “D” sound. “Seriously, I’m sure that Lon Bartlett would prefer to choose his own company for the evening.”

“Paige that would be fine if we were just sending some executive a simple holiday remembrance but we need to court this publication. And if we want the publisher happy, we make his star writer happy.” She looked down at her phone as if trying to hurry the young woman from her office. “This requires a more personal touch. Take him out, wine and dine him. Do whatever you have to and make him happy.”

Slowly a frown settled on Paige’s face. “I hope you’re not suggesting…”

Jeanmarie laughed suddenly. “Oh gosh no! All I want you to do is schmooze with him a little bit. Make sure his evening is pleasant.” She stopped and stared at the young woman pensively. “You know Paige, a lot of the women in the secretarial pool would die for this chance to spend an evening with a man like Bartlett. This is a great opportunity for you… professionally.”

Paige bit the inside of her cheek to keep from retorting. She spent two years in the secretarial pool waiting for a promotion into the public relations department of this company. Of course though, she thought to herself, the first time she was given an opportunity to prove herself it had to be with someone whose ethics she couldn’t tolerate.

“I just need to know that you can do this Paige.” Jeanmarie had taken a huge personal gamble by pushing Paige’s name when this opening came up.

“I’ll make sure he’s happy.” She nodded even though she was filled with all kinds of self doubts. In reality, Paige wasn’t worried about refusing the man’s possible advances, she was afraid she would be tempted to accept them.

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(reprinted with permission from Ron Knight)

Whether you are hoping to have your book represented by a literary agent, or have an essay, poem, or short story published in a journal, it is imperative that you understand the language of publishing. Being fluent in this terminology will give you greater control over the sale and distribution of your creative writing, and you’ll demonstrate to literary agents and editors that you know everything from the formal vocabulary to the popular lingo.

Here is a list of commonly used (and confused) terms in the publishing business:

What is an SASE? Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. When submitting your writing to publications, send an SASE for the journal or literary agent’s response. You can also send a larger envelope if you would like them to return your writing if it is rejected. We at Writer’s Relief recommend that you simply send a business-sized (#10) envelope for their written response, not for the return of work.

What does previously published mean? As online publishing increases, the term previously published gets increasingly murky.

What is media rate at the post office? Media rate can be applied to mailing packages containing books, scripts, sound recordings, video tapes, and computer-readable media (such as CDs, DVDs, and diskettes). Media rate is slower and less expensive than first-class mail.

What are simultaneous submissions? When you make a simultaneous submission, you send the same submission to more than one editor or agent at the same time.

What are multiple submissions? When you make a multiple submission, you send many submissions in one letter or e-mail to one editor or agent.

What is a literary agent? The best way to have your book published is to send your work out to literary agents first. These are professionals who can target your writing to publishers and make sure you get the best possible book deal.

What is an editor? An editor works at a publishing house or literary journal. An editor reads submissions, acquires the rights to publish them (sometimes paying for that right), and often edits the content. People who acquire short works for inclusion in a collection or anthology are also editors.

What is a proofreader? Proofreaders edit your work for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting.

What is a copyeditor? A copyeditor edits a manuscript to meet the house style, which includes reading for accuracy and formatting.

What is a query letter? What is a cover letter? The difference between a query letter and a cover letter is that while a query letter is an introduction to a literary or book agent, a cover letter is used when sending poetry and/or short stories to literary journals. Writer’s Relief can help you write both!

What is an exclusive read from a literary agent? If you grant an exclusive read (or right of first refusal) to a literary agent, you are granting him or her the right to read your book before any other agents see it. For more detailed information, see our article When A Literary Agent Requests An Exclusive: Solutions For Sticky Situations.

What is the difference between a short story and an essay? A short story is a work of fiction; an essay, whether personal, academic, or instructional, is nonfiction. While the lines between a personal or creative essay and a short story are often blurred during the creative formation of a piece, it is important that you decide on the genre of your short prose piece in order to market it to the right editor. Learn more: Short prose genres: Defining Essay, Short Story, Commentary, Memoir, and Mixed Genre.

What are galleys for books or novels? A galley is an unformatted version of a manuscript. Galleys are sent out to reviewers and blurb writers a few weeks before the book is put in stores in its formatted version.

What is the slush pile? A slush pile is a stack of unsolicited submissions to book agents, literary journals, or publishing houses.

What are solicited and unsolicited submissions? A solicited submission is work that an editor or literary agent has asked for. An unsolicited submission is work that an editor or literary agent has not asked for.

What is an advance on a book or novel? An advance is payment a publisher gives a writer for a book or novel before it is written.

What is a writer’s backlist? A writer’s backlist is a list of his or her older publications.

What is the masthead? The masthead refers to the “behind the scenes” information about a publication, such as the editors, publishing information, etc.

Writer’s Relief often helps writers with their submission strategies and the questions that arise during the manuscript submission process. We target submissions to literary agents and editors, write cover and query letters, proofread and format manuscripts, and track submissions. Click for more information about Writer’s Relief.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, an author’s submission service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994. Their work is highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!

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