Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Publishing As a Second Language - A Publishing Glossary

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

When I first began writing there were times I felt like I was in foreign language class! What did these new words mean? 

Wasn’t a clip something you put in your hair when you were going out? And felt needs? Aren’t all needs felt? What about a slush pile? Things that are slushy aren’t easy to pile up. 
And then there was the genre thing. I couldn’t even say that word. Surely, that really was in a foreign language!

That's when I discovered a need to conquer publishing as a second language (PSL).

True, there is a specific language of the publishing world. But it is not a secret and it is not foreign. You just have to do a little studying. Some of the words are obvious – like simultaneous submission. I could figure out that meant to send things at the same time. But did it mean send the same thing to multiple places or did it mean that I sent multiple submissions on the same day?

Here are a few terms that helped me to navigate a little better in the publishing world.
  • BYLINE – Your name as you wish it to appear on your work, usually placed under the title.
  • CLIP – Copies of an author’s published works. Also called tearsheets. The truth is that these days no one really tears anything out of anywhere. You will probably copy and paste your previous work into an electronic file. But you may still hear these words used.
  • FELT NEEDS – Many editors say what they are looking for is a book or article that address felt needs. So, simply put, your work must touch your reader at a point of need.
  • SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSION – This is usually applied to books. Some people say they use this with magazine articles but I, personally, don’t recommend it. Book publishers usually take several months to reply to your submission. Rightly so, since they must have a number of committees comment. They know that if you wait months for an answer every time you submit a book manuscript, you may take years to find a home for your work. So the publishers are fine with your submitting your book manuscript to more than one publisher as long as you let them know in your query or cover letter that you are sending to more publishing houses than just one. Add a line to your letter such as “this is a simultaneous submission.”
  • SLUSH PILE – The pile on the editor’s desk that has all the submitted manuscripts. Usually this pile is very high so you need to make sure anything you submit is your best writing and well-edited. (I know you thought that’s what editors were for but today’s editorial staffs are very small if not a solo position. So make sure you have done their editing for them (even if you have to hire a freelance editor) so your manuscript will rise to the top of the pile!
Hope this helps. We will continue next month as we talk about the difference between a query letter and a cover letter. But in the meantime, be sure to ask any questions about terms you've heard and don't understand. 

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Publishing As a Second Language: A Publishing Glossary - via author @LindaGilden on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Glimpses from a publishing glossary, learn to speak the language of #writing - @LindaGilden on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Linda is the author of 19 books and over 1000 magazine articles. She enjoys every meeting with editors and knowing we are all part of the same team. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!


  1. Thank you Linda, I really appreciate this help. :)

  2. This post is helpful in numerous ways; two of them are: 1) The importance of always writing posts ahead of schedule (i.e. keep something handy, you never know when you might need it). 2) My handiest book on this writing journey to date is "The Writer's Pocket Glossary" by Mrs. Linda Gilden. Understanding how to speak Publishing has been instrumental in my learning and development. Thank you The Write Conversation for all the lessons you provide. God's blessings and continued prayers.