- Glossary of Publishing Terms
Back Story events that occurred before the start of the book.
Category Romance romance written within a set of parameters that
establish a set style for tone, page length, sensuality level, and
the requisite happy ending. Examples include Harlequin Presents,
Silhouette Desire, and Harlequin Historicals.
Characterization character traits and actions that define the
people in a novel.
Conflict the barrier that prevents the hero and heroine from
falling in love early on in a novel. Internal conflict refers to
emotional issues within the protagonists, such as fear of commitment,
abandonment, failure of past relationships, etc. External conflict
refers to "outside" barriers that block the path to love, such as
feuding families, misunderstandings, prior romantic commitments, etc.
Copy Editor person responsible for correcting errors within a
manuscript, such as grammar, spelling, and consistency, querying the
editor and author with problems to solve, and preparing a style sheet
of names, places, etc.
Critique (manuscript critique) an editorial assessment of a
manuscript. It includes an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses
of the story, including pacing, writing style, voice, internal and
external conflict, characterization, and romance. As each critique is
personal, one critique may focus more on pacing, while another
critique may focus more on characterization. A manuscript critique
can be used as a learning tool by an author looking to hone his or
her writing skills.
Dialogue words or conversation spoken by the characters that
advance the plot.
Editor person responsible for acquiring manuscripts for
publication and aiding the author to revise and shape them to suit
the publishing house's needs.
Font the style of type used in a manuscript. For example, Times
New Roman or Arial.
Full Manuscript the novel as it appears on 8½ x 11 paper, typed or
printed from a computer. The full manuscript refers to the entire
novel, from start to end, as opposed to a partial manuscript, which
is just a selection of chapters.
Galley the typeset manuscript, appearing as it will when the book
is ultimately printed, before the pages are cropped to book-size and
bound. The term comes from the long strips of paper on which such
text was formerly set.
Hero the main male protagonist in a romance novel.
Heroine the main female protagonist in a romance novel.
Hook the sentence, paragraph or theme that draws, and holds, the
reader's attention. It should begin the novel.
House Style Guide (a.k.a. Style Guide) a definitive manual created
by a publishing house outlining specific style choices (i.e. grammar,
punctuation, spelling, etc.) so that consistency will be maintained
throughout all publications.
Line Edit high-level editing that helps to shape the book by
focusing on things such as plot, tone, pacing, characterization,
development of romance, etc. (as opposed to copyediting, which
focuses on smaller, line-by-line issues such as grammar, consistency,
Mainstream Romance a romance novel written outside the confines of
category romance parameters. Some differences may include the tone,
voice, point-of-view, etc. This is usually a longer-length novel of
100,000 words or more.
Manuscript the novel as it appears on 8½ x 11 paper, typed or
printed from a computer.
Narrative words that are not part of dialogue. For example,
descriptions, thoughts, actions, and setup.
Outline see Synopsis.
Pacing the progression of the novel's timeline: how fast or slow
the action of the story moves along.
Partial manuscript the novel as it appears on 8½ x 11 paper, typed
or printed from a computer. Partial manuscript refers to a selection
of chapters (such as the first three), as opposed to the entire
Plot the main action of a novel.
Point-of-View which character's or characters' eyes the main
action of the story is seen through. A story told in the first person
is narrated by "I"; in the third person, the narrator is outside the
story and tells about "he" or "she."
Proofreading (a.k.a. Proofing) the final stage of editing the
manuscript that takes place in-house after copyediting. Proofreaders
check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors that have been
missed, as well as for errors in cover copy, ad copy, running heads,
Query letter a letter addressed to an editor that inquires about a
publishing program's policy for receiving manuscripts, or a letter to
an editor that accompanies a manuscript (partial or full) and
synopsis for review by the addressed editor.
Running Heads the copy at the top of each page that details the
title of the book or chapter and author name.
Series Romance see Category Romance.
Setting the time and place of the action of a novel. For example,
1812 Regency London, or contemporary Western.
Slush Pile unsolicited manuscripts sent to editors.
Style Guide see House Style Guide.
Synopsis a condensed summary of the entire novel from start to
Time Line the chronological sequence of events in the story.
Although the events of the story don't have to be told in
chronological order, it is important to be sure that events occur in
their chronological order. For example, a story can begin when the
hero is 30 and flashback to when he was 18, but if the hero's parents
died when he was 23, remember that his parents were alive during the
Tone the style or manner in which the story is written. For
example, humorous or dramatic.
Voice the author's use of language, which creates a unique tone
particular to her story.