If you know any writing/ publishing words that are in the industry, but people might not be familiar with please help build our list.


About the Author: Relevant information about the author, written for books, proposals, articles, and websites. Usually a couple of paragraphs to one page, written in the third person.
Acrostic: A sentence where the first letter of each word of the sentence helps to remember the spelling of a word, or order of things. For example – Never Eat Sour Wieners = North, East, South, West.
Advance: A percentage of the money paid to the writer by a publisher prior to publication of the book. Advances are paid against future royalties, and are paid back to the publisher once the book starts earning royalties.
Agent: An individual who markets creative works to publishers. Agents charge a commission of around 10 to 20 percent, rather than charging a fee.
All Rights: The publication owns all the rights to the work in all the media worldwide, but does not own the copyright.
Allegory: A narrative technique in which the characters are portrayed as things or concepts in order to convey a message. Usually used for satirical or political purposes.
Alliteration:  A series of words in a sentence all beginning with the same sound. For example: Sing a song of six-pence.
Ambiance:  The feeling or mood of a particular scene or setting.
Ambiguity: Allows for two or more simultaneous interpretations of a word, phrase, action, or situation, all of which can be supported by the context of a work.

Analogy: A comparison of two unlike things, used to explain or illustrate a concept.

Anaphora: Several consecutive sentences all starting with the same words. For example – I will not give up. I will do it.  I will succeed.

Antagonist: The main character or force in a fiction that tries to stop the protagonist (the hero or heroine of the story) from achieving his/her goal.

Anthology: A collection of short stories written by various authors, compiled in one book or journal.
Antonyms: Words which are opposites in meaning. For example – come and go, clean and dirty, good and bad, etc.   

Assignment: A piece of writing that a writer has been assigned to write by an editor or publisher for a pre-determined fee.

Assonance: Repetition of internal vowel sounds in nearby words that do not end the same, used to emphasize important words in a line. For example – asleep under a tree.

Autobiography: The writer’s own life story.  


Backlist: Books published before the present year, but still in print.

Ballad: A narrative folksong, usually created by common people and passed on orally.

Beat: One count pause in speech, action, or poetry.

Bibliography: The list of books, magazines, journals, people, websites, or any other resources that you
consulted in the process of writing a book, article, or paper.

Bimonthly: Once every two months.

Biography: A life story of someone other than the writer’s.

Bionote (Bio): A short 2 or 3 sentence description of the author written in the 3rd person, usually to accompany an article.

Biweekly: Once every two weeks.

Blank Verse: Poetry that doesn’t rhyme.

Boilerplate: A standard publishing contract, with no changes made by the author or agent. The boilerplate is the starting point only, and later changes are usually made.

Book Review: A summary of a book, including its critique.

Byline: The author’s name appearing with his/her published work.

Canon: Works generally considered by scholars, critics, and teachers to be the most important to read and study.

Caption: A brief description of a picture, graph, table, or diagram.

Characterization: The author’s expression of a character’s personality through the use of action, dialogue,
thought, or commentary.

Cliché: An overused expression.

Climax: The moment of greatest intensity in a story, usually the point where the central character/protagonist faces and deals with the consequences of all his/her actions.

Clips: Published samples of writings that a writer submits with queries to prospective markets. Sometimes called “tear sheets”.

Closet Drama: A play written to be read rather than performed on stage.

Connotation: Implications that go beyond the literal meaning of the word.

Copyediting: Checking for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and word usage.

Copyright: The ownership by an author of his or her work. Copyright laws recognize the author’s right of ownership of anything that the author writes immediately upon its creation.

Couplet: Two consecutive lines of poetry that usually rhyme and have the same meter.

Cover Letter: A short letter accompanying a manuscript, proposal, or resume that introduces you, your work, and your credits. No more than one page.

CV:  Curriculum Vitae - a short one page resume.


Dead Metaphor: A metaphor that has lost its intensity due to overuse.

Deadline: The latest date that a piece of assigned writing is due on for submission.

Denotation: The exact meaning of a word, without the feelings or suggestions that the word may imply.

Denouement: The final outcome of the main complication of a story or play. It usually occurs after the climax
and reveals all the secrets and misunderstandings connected to the plot.

Dialogue: The words spoken by the characters of a story.

Diction: A writer’s choice of words, phrases, sentence structures, and figurative language, which combine to help create meaning.

Didactic: Instructional or informative literature.

Double Entendre: A phrase that can be interpreted in two different ways.

Double-Entry Journal: A journal with two columns. In the left hand column brief quotes, first impressions and ideas are written. In the right hand column, the responses to the writings of the left hand column are written – like what they remind you of, their implications, and your final thoughts on them.

Draft: A completed version of a writing which may be rewritten, revised, or polished.

Dummy: Hand drawn mock-up of what a page will look like in print.


Edit: To review a piece of writing to correct grammatical, spelling, or factual errors. Editing often includes shortening or lengthening of a piece of writing to fit an available space before publication.

Editor: A professional commissioned to edit (and sometimes write) articles for a publication.

Editorial: A short article expressing an opinion or point of view. Often, but not always, written by a member of the publication staff.

Electronic Submission: Submission made through electronic means – that is, e-mail or computer disks.

Elegy: A mournful, contemplative lyric poem written to commemorate someone who is dead, often ending in a consolation.

Embargo: Prohibition against publishing information until a specific date. This is done in journalism to ensure that all news outlets release the news on the same day.

Epic: A long narrative poem, told in a formal, elevated style that focuses on a serious subject and chronicles heroic deeds and events important to a culture or nation.

Epigram: A short witty poem, usually makes a satiric or humorous point.

Euphemism: A phrase used in place of something disagreeable or upsetting. For example – “passed out” for “fainted”.

Euphony: Smooth and musically pleasant language.

E-zine: Electronic magazine. A magazine published online.   

Fair Use: Reproduction of short excerpts from a copyrighted work for educational or review purposes. This does not infringe upon the writer’s copyrights.

Fees: Money paid to the writer for his/her services.

Figures of Speech: Ways of using language that deviate from the literal meanings of words in order to suggest additional meanings or effects.

First Electronic Rights: The rights to publish a piece of writing electronically (online) for the first time. Once the rights have been assigned, the work cannot be published in another electronic medium, however reprint rights can be sold.

First Print Rights: The rights anywhere in the world to a piece of writing in the medium it’s published in. 

Flash Fiction: A piece of fiction written in less than 500 words.

Flat Fee: Money paid to the author for his or her work in one lump sum. The author does not receive any royalty after this payment. 

Formatting: The manner in which a manuscript is prepared and presented.

Free Verse: Verse that has neither regular rhyme nor regular meter. Also called open form poetry.

Freewriting: Writing continuously without worrying about how well you are writing. This kind of informal writing is meant to explore one’s thoughts, unload one’s feelings, or reflect on something.

Frontlist: Books being published in the current year.

Galleys: The initial typeset of a manuscript sent to the author for review before it is printed. Type size and column format are set, but page divisions are not made.

Genre: The type or category of writing – like mystery, science fiction, romance, fantasy, etc.

Ghostwriter: A writer who is paid to write for someone else. A ghostwriter does not get a byline or any credit. Usually celebrities hire ghostwriters and then sell the book under their own names.

Go-ahead: A positive response to a query that assigns an article to you.

Guidelines: Instructions for submitting work to a publication.


Haiku: A three line, seventeen syllable poem, usually about nature.

Hardcover: Book bound with hard cardboard cover, then covered with a paper dust jacket.

High Concept: A storyline that can easily be described in one sentence and seems to be especially unique and commercially viable.

Hook:  A narrative trick in the lead paragraph of a work that grabs the attention of the readers and keeps them reading.

Homographs: Words which are spelled alike but are different in origin, meaning, or pronunciation. For example – fair (the adjective meaning beautiful or not dark) and fair (the noun meaning a periodical gathering with sales, shows and entertainment).   

Homonyms: Words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings. For example – pool (of water) and pool (the game).

Hyperbole: Deliberate exaggeration. Short form is “hype”.


Imagery: Collection of images in a literary work, used to evoke atmosphere or mood.

Imprint: Division within a publishing house that deals with a specific category of books.

Invoice: A record of payment due, given to an accounting department or person of a publication.

Irony: When a person, situation, statement, or circumstance is not what it seems to be, but the exact opposite. 

Jargon: Mode of speech familiar only to a group or profession. For example – medical jargon or technical jargon.

Journal: A diary or record of events, feelings, and thoughts usually recorded by date.


Kicker: In journalism - a sudden, surprising turn of events or ending; a twist.

Kill Fee: Compensatory payment made for an assigned article which was completed but not used or published.

Lead: The first paragraph of a manuscript. This is where the “hook” (to grab the reader’s attention) should be.

Lead Time: The time between getting the query or article and the publication of the article. Vital for seasonal
articles and stories.

Limerick: A light, humorous style of fixed form poetry, usually of five lines and a subject matter which is silly.

Logline: One sentence description of a screenplay or TV script.

Loop Writing: A type of writing that helps you develop your thinking. Stories, dialogues, prejudices, etc are written that take off from a word, phrase, or paragraph in some informal writing. Later you think about how you can use this loop writing to discover another point of view by bringing in relevant personal experiences.

Lyric: A brief poem that expresses the personal emotions and thoughts of a single speaker, not necessarily of the poet.

Manuscript: Author’s copy of a novel, non-fiction writing, article, or screenplay.

Massmarket: A paperback book smaller in trim size than trade paperback, usually with a different cover illustration than the hardcover edition, and considerably cheaper.

Metaphor: A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, without using the word like or as. For example – Life is a brief candle. (Macbeth)

Meter: A recurring rhythmic pattern of stresses and unstressed syllables in a poem.

Motif: A recurring object, concept, or structure in a work of literature. A motif may also be two contrasting elements in a work, such as good and evil.

Myth: A story that attempts to explain events in nature by referring to supernatural causes, like gods and deities. Usually passed on from generation to generation. 

New York - In the publishing world, New York refers to the big New York publishers (Baen, Scholastic, Bantam).

Narrative: A collection of events that tells a story, which may be true or not, placed in a particular order.

Newbie: A new writer.

Novel: A work of fiction consisting of 45,000 words or more.

Novella/Novelette: Short works of fiction consisting of between 7,500 and 40,000 words.

Nut Graf: In journalism, the paragraph that contains the main point of the story.


Ode: A lengthy lyric poem that often expresses lofty emotions in a dignified style.

On Acceptance: When payment is given to the writer after the editor accepts the finished nonfiction article.

On Publication: When payment is given to the writer when the piece is published.

On Spec: When the editor is not obligated to publish the piece as the writer was not officially assigned to write it.

Onomatopoeia: The use of words that resemble the sound they denote. For example – hiss or buzz.

Outline: A point form or list of short sentences that describe the action or major ideas in a written work.

Over-the-transom: Unsolicited materials submitted to editors.

Overview: A brief description of a novel or non-fiction book intended to introduce the work to a publisher.

Oxymoron: A phrase composed of two words with contradictory meanings. For example – original copy.


P.O.D. - Print-on-Demand is an alternate method of distribution than that formerly used by traditional print publishing. Recently the larger houses have begun to switch to P.O.D. Rather than storing boxes and boxes of books that may or may not sell, print-on-demand allows the publisher to print only the books that are ordered. Indie and E houses have used P.O.D. for years. Not to be confused with vanity publishing or self-publishing, Print on Demand is strictly about print numbers and book distribution and has no positive or negative connotation on its own. P.O.D. saves money, space and trees.

Passive Verbs - Any form of the verb "to be" (am, is, are, were, was). Publishing houses do not appreciate passive verbs - using them profusely means bad news for your chances of getting published.

PB: Abbreviation for Picture Book.

Pace: The speed or rhythm with which a story is told.

Palindrome: A word or phrase that means the same when read in either direction. For example – ‘mom’, or ‘Ma handed Edna ham’.

Parable: A brief and often simple narrative that illustrates a moral or religious lesson.

Paradox: A statement that initially appears to be contradictory but then, on closer inspection, turns out to make sense.

Paraphrase: A prose restatement of the central ideas of a poem, in your own language.

Parody: A humorous imitation of another, usually serious, work.

Payment: What an editor pays a writer for his work.

Permission: A fee paid by anyone who wants to reprint part of a book for uses like - excerpts of the book appearing in an anthology; teachers reproducing all or part of the story for class use; or another writer using more than 50 words from the book in a published article. The publisher handles permissions for the author, and splits the proceeds. 

Persona: In literature, the persona is the narrator, or the storyteller, of a literary work created by the author.

Personification: A form of writing where human characteristics are attributed to non-human things.

Plagiarism: Presenting another author’s works or words as your own.

Plot: The main events of a story.

Point of View: The angle from which the writer writes a piece, particularly in fiction.

Prefix: An auxiliary syllable that attaches to the beginning of a root word to change the meaning of the word. For example: marital, premarital.

Premise: The question or problem that is the basic idea of a story.

Proofreading: Close reading of the work to look for mistakes in language use.

Proposal: Summary of a proposed book, usually non-fiction.

Prosody: The overall metrical structure of a poem.

Protagonist: The main character or hero of a story whose actions and goal drive the plot forwards.

Pseudonym: An alias used by a writer desiring not to use his or her real name. Also known as “pen name”.

Public Domain: Any material that can be freely used by the public, and does not come under the protection of a copyright, trademark, or patent.

Pun: A play on words that relies on a word’s having more than one meaning or sounding like another word.


Quatrain: A four-line stanza. Quatrains are the most common stanzaic form in the English language, having various meters and rhyme schemes.

Query: A one page letter pitching an article or a book idea to an editor. It usually consists of a catchy introduction, a bit of background on the topic, and a synopsis of the writer’s credits.


Record of Submission: A formalized record of where and when an author has sent article or manuscript submissions.

Rejection Slip: A letter from an editor indicating that the publisher is not interested in the author’s submitted work.

Reprints: Previously published articles made available for publication in other magazines or journals.

Revising: Making changes to improve the writing.

Rhyme: The similarity between syllable sounds at the end of two or more lines.

Rhythm: A term used to refer to the recurrence of stressed and unstressed sounds in poetry.

Rights: Ownership of all the various ways in which a creative work may be reproduced, used, or applied.

Rough Draft: The first organized version of a document or other work.

Royalties: A percentage of the cover price of a book paid to the author. Royalties are only paid after the book has earned out and are usually paid on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Run-on Sentence: Two or more sentences in a paragraph without appropriate punctuation or connecting words.

Slushpile - The slushpile is the term for manuscripts sent to a publishing house. Most manuscripts end up in this slushpile and await reading by the slush readers.

SASE: Abbreviation for Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope, usually sent with a query or manuscript so the editor or publisher can mail it back to the writer.

Satire: The literary art of ridiculing a folly or vice in order to expose or correct it.

Scansion: The process of measuring the stresses in a line of verse in order to determine the metrical pattern of the line.

Self-publishing: A branch of publishing in which the author publishes his own works, cutting out the middlemen and raking in all the profits himself. With the advent of computers and desktop publishing programs, this approach has become increasingly viable.

Sentence Fragment: A sentence that is missing the subject, the verb, or both.

Serial: A publication that appears periodically, such as magazines, newspapers, or newsletters.

Sestet: A stanza consisting of exactly six lines.

Setting: The total environment for the action of a fictional work.

Short Short: Fiction under 1,000 words.

Short Story: Fiction under 7,000 words.

Side Bar: Extra information or hints and tips put together aside from the main article.

Simile: Comparing two different things using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’. For example – The water was cold as ice.

Simultaneous Submission: To send a submission to more than one publisher/agent at one time. This is unacceptable to some, okay to others.

Slant: The bias or angle with which a writer presents the information in an article.

Solicited Manuscript: A manuscript that an agent or editor has asked to see.

Soliloquy: A dramatic convention by means of which a character, alone onstage, utters his or her thoughts aloud - used to inform the audience about a character’s motivations or thoughts. 

Sonnet: A fixed form of lyric poetry that consists of fourteen lines, usually written in iambic pentameter, with a varied rhyme scheme.

Stanza: A group of lines in a poem that form a metrical or thematic unit, set off by a space.

Stress: The emphasis, or accent, given a syllable in pronunciation.

Style: The manner of expression of a particular writer, produced by choice of words, grammatical structures, use of literary devices, and all the possible parts of language use.

Subject: The main topic in a sentence, paragraph, essay, or book.

Submission Guidelines: The guidelines given by the editor or the publisher for submitting queries or completed manuscripts to the publication.

Subplot: The secondary action of a story, complete and interesting in its own right, that reinforces or contrasts with the main plot.

Suffix: An auxiliary syllable that attaches to the end of a root word to change the meaning of a word. For example – suggest, suggestive.

Summary: A short description of the main points of a body of work.

Symbol: A word that on the surface is its literal self but which also has another meaning or even several meanings.

Synonyms: Words which have the same or almost the same meaning. For example – happy and glad.

Synopsis: Brief summary of a story, manuscript, or book, told in present tense prose which is usually two to three paragraphs in length.

Syntax: The ordering of words into meaningful verbal patterns such as phrases, clauses, and sentences.

Tropes - A trope is an acceptable cliche that fits into a specified genre (i.e.: Urban fantasy tropes, science fiction tropes, horror tropes).
EXAMPLE: In science fiction, faster than light travel could be considered a trope of the genre.

Tearsheet: Sample of an author's published work; once the actual “torn” page containing the article or story, but today a photocopy of it.

Terms: The deal made between the writer and the editor/publisher for the publication of a particular work - including types of rights purchased, payment schedule, expected date of publication, and other similar items.

Theme: The central meaning or dominant idea in a literary work. It is the unifying point around which the plot, characters, setting, point of view, symbols, and other elements of a work are organized.

Tone: The author’s implicit attitude toward the reader or the people, places, and events in a work as revealed by the elements of the author’s style.

Topic Sentence: The sentence at the beginning of a paragraph, that includes the main idea of the paragraph.

Travesty:  A work that treats a serious subject frivolously, ridiculing the dignified. Often the tone is mock serious and heavy handed.

Triplet: A tercet in which all three lines rhyme.

Understatement: The opposite of hyperbole, understatement (or litotes) refers to a figure of speech that says less than is intended.

Unsolicited Manuscripts: An article, story, or book that a publication did not request.

Vanity Publishing: A form of publishing in which the author pays a publisher to publish his or her work.

Verse: Poetic lines composed in a measured rhythmical pattern, that are often, but not necessarily, rhymed.

Villanelle: A type of fixed form poetry consisting of nineteen lines of any length divided into six stanzas.

Voice: The style, tone, and method of writing with which an author composes a work.

Widows and Orphans: In publishing, a “widow” is the last line of a paragraph, printed alone at the top of a page. An “orphan” is the first line of a paragraph, printed alone at the bottom of a page.

Withdrawal Letter: A politely worded letter to a publication or publishing house withdrawing a manuscript from consideration.

Word Count: The estimated number of words in a manuscript.

Work for Hire: A job where the writer is commissioned to write a piece, but does not receive a byline, and does not get any rights to the work.

Writer’s Block: The inability to write for some period of time. It can be the inability to come up with good ideas to start a story, or extreme dissatisfaction with all efforts to write.

Writer’s Guidelines: A set of guidelines to which a publication wants its writers to adhere.




Editing symbols and there meaning

(??        ??) Bracking a section means that the editor is confused and doesn't know how to fix it without author clarification.
(.) need's a period.
(,) need's a comma
    I don't know how to do an M dash but I know that it is a new element.