The Great CC Glossary

Welcome to the Great CC Glossary!
This project is a work in progress. Please help us make the glossary better by chiming in on the Glossary thread.

Here are a few things you need to know about this glossary.

Entries are put in 4 categories:

1. Writing terms

2. Crit slang

3. Publishing business

4. Helpful links

This is to help authors see what are accepted writing methods and what are criticisms. It also helps to clarify what readers want versus what an editor wants.

You can type a word into the white search box just below, and it will automatically find that word in the glossary. Or, you can scroll through the list in alphabetical order.

If you're looking for a term that doesn't seem to show up, stop by the glossary discussion thread. If we don't have the word listed, you can request that we add it.

We strive to make all definitions as clear and understandable as possible. While we can give you a good idea of what a term means, we can't always go into great detail. Many of the more complicated subjects have helpful links for further research.

The helpful links section also has assistance on learning the different genres. Since literary genres are fluid and constantly evolving, it's very difficult for a glossary to define them.

Lastly, it's important to note that these terms are not unique to CC. They are common slang throughout the publishing world.

Happy writing!

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  • Publishing business
  • Publishing business

    Independent publishing. A small or family-owned company that publishes books usually on a limited budget.

    An interesting or compelling way to start a story that grabs the reader's attention as soon as possible.

    Self addressed stamped envelope. Required to include in a physical submission to most agents/publishers for the reply.

     Style sheet
    Document listing specific terms, objects, laws, character bios, and other information unique to the world of a story so that writers/editors can ensure consistency.

     Simultaneous submission (simsub)
    Sending the same manuscript to more than one agent/publisher at a time.

    Work in progress.

    The age range best appropriate to read something. Examples are children, middle grade, young adult, etc.

    A fancy word for synopsis.

    Picture book (usually means for children).

     Full request
    An agent/publisher asks an author to send them the entire text of a book.

    To go line by line through a text and inspect for mistakes or clumsy sentences. See also: substantive edit.

    Young adult. Appropriate for teenagers. Upper YA (sometimes called New Adult) is for readers age 18-21.This is a category to help define age range and is not a standalone genre. There is no such thing as just a YA novel. It's YA fantasy, YA science fiction, etc.

     Unsolicited ms
    When an author sends a manuscript directly to an agent/publisher without following an initial procedure to establish contact. See also: query letter and slush pile.

     Substantive edit
    To crit a story with emphasis on characters, plot structure and other abstract things. See also: copyedit.

    Slang for submitting. The process of finding an agent/publisher, making contact, and then convincing them to read a manuscript. See also: query letter, slush pile, unsolicited ms and exclusive sub.

     Slush pile
    A stack of backlogged submissions, usually ones sent in without an agent/publisher requesting them, that an assistant quickly browses.

    The act of printing or publishing a book through the author's own means.

     Query letter
    A business letter sent to agents/publishers that introduces an author and explains a little about their book. An unsolicited query (sometimes called cold query) is the act of sending this letter to someone the author has not spoken to at all.

    The artistic classification of a piece of writing. Common examples include romance, science fiction and memoir. Decided by the most predominant element in the story.

     Partial request
    An agent/publisher asks to read part of a book (usually the first few chapters).

    Guidelines. Often used in reference to an agent/publisher establishing how they want authors to contact them.

     Exclusive submission (sometimes shortened to exsub)
    Giving an agent/publisher time to review a manuscript without fear of it selling to someone else in the meantime. Authors typically wait a certain length of time, and then if an offer doesn't come through they will send it elsewhere.

    A fairly short document that gives a summary of a book. Depending on a publisher's guidelines, it can range from one page to about five pages.

     Word count
    The industry standard for measuring the length of a book. Novels normally range from 70,000 to 120,000 words.

    A person who represents an author in front of publishers. They will work to find an editor to publish a book and then explain the contract. They make their money on commission from an offer.

    Traditional method of publishing (as opposed to self publish). Sometimes called Trade Publishing.

    Multiple submission. The act of sending more than one project to the same agent/publisher at a time.

    A book about a made-up story. There is no such thing as a fiction or fictitious novel because all novels are fiction. Novel length ranges anywhere from 70k – 120k words. If a story is shorter than that, say 50k or 60k, it's called a novella.

    National Novel Writer's Month (a yearly event in November where people attempt to write a whole novel in a month).

    Manuscript (what agents and publishers call a book submitted to them).

    Kindle Direct Publishing. A self-publish service offered by Amazon.

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