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Vocab 101 for Self-Published Authors

There’s nothing more embarrassing and frustrating than attempting to discuss your book with industry professionals and having to ask for clarification on information that they consider common knowledge. You can’t boss the business of self-publishing and perfect your authorpreneurship without knowing the jargon for the industry. Below are key terms that every self-published author should be familiar with.

Advanced Reader Copy (ARC): These are promotional copies of your book that are sent out to select readers for advance reviews and interviewers for publicity interviews.

Barcode: A machine-readable image on the back of books to indicate ISBN and price. Barcodes are required by most retailers for print books. Official barcodes are purchased through your country’s official ISBN website.

Copyright: A form of intellectual property, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to that work’s publication, distribution, and adaptation for a certain time period. Copyrights are good for the duration of the holder’s life plus 70 years.

Digital Rights Management (DRM): A system or technology used to place limitations onto digital content (books, movies, music, etc). As a self-publisher, the author determines the level of restrictions applied to it. This includes how many times content can be downloaded for a single purchase, and the number of devices (computers, e-readers, phones, etc) to which the content can be transferred.

Distributor: A party that handles all fulfillment, credit, and collections on behalf of a self-published author. Distributors almost always take a portion of the sale for their work.

Edition: A version of a work. A new edition means that there have been a series of corrections, a new feature added, or that the content has been revised.

EPUB: A format for digital books and publications, i.e. ebooks.. EPUB reflows content, so that text can be optimized for the display screen being used at the time.

Formatting: Revising the structure of a manuscript to fit print or ebook standards.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN): A unique 13-digit number provided by your country’s ISBN agency. ISBNs are used worldwide as a unique identifier for each book title/format combination. Self-publishers by their ISBNs directly from their country’s official website.

Media Kit: an assortment of information for anyone who wants easy access to further details about you and your books. Media kits are sent to potential interviewers and other promotional avenues.

Offset Printing: Printing on a traditional printing press where many copies of a book are produced at one time.

Page Count: Page count is the total number of pages in the book, including blank pages and front matter. This information comes in very handy when trying to format the spine for your print version cover.

Portable Document Format (PDF): A file format that allows the creation and sharing of documents that will look and print the same on any machine.

Print on Demand (POD): Printing, usually from a digital file to a digital printer. In this case, the physical book is only printed when it is ordered. The exact number of copies ordered is what is printed. No extra copies are kept on warehouse shelves.

Publication Date: The date on which a retail consumer or library may take possession of a product.

Status: Indicates the availability of the book. The book industry uses terms, such as forthcoming (going to be published in the future), active (available for purchase now), and publication cancelled (item will not be published now or in the future).

Subject: Subjects are used to categorize books. These categories briefly describe the content of a book. Retailers, distributors, and libraries require you to select at least one subject.

Suggested Retail Price: Self-published authors determine the suggested retail list price using an equation that includes the cost to print the book multiplied by a specific number. This number fluctuates as the economy fluctuates.

Synopsis: A brief summary of a book that appears on the back or inside front cover of a book. The synopsis can also appear in an author’s media kit.

Trade: Refers to traditional bookselling channels including independent bookstores (e.g. a single store, a local group of stores) and chain bookstores (e.g. Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million).

Trade Discount: An amount or rate by which the price of a book is reduced when sold to a reseller. The trade discount reflects the reseller’s profit margin.


About Amanda Chambers

Amanda Chambers has the experience and know-how to help anyone achieve their self-publishing goals. Her self-published book, Ember's Flame, hit #1 on the African American Erotica list on Amazon and has more than thirty 5-star reviews. A graduate of both East Carolina University and North Carolina Central University with three degrees in English, she is formally trained in writing and can guide aspiring authors to the successful creation and completion of their books. Amanda is the Founder & CEO of Divine Legacy Publishing.

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