Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

The Basics

Writing & Publishing Glossary

#10 Envelope: a standard, business-size envelope.

Byline: name of the author appearing with the published piece.

Chapbook: a small booklet—usually paperback—of poetry, ballads, or tales.

Circulation: the number of subscribers to a magazine.

Clips: samples, usually from newspapers or magazines, of a writer’s published work.

Copyright: a means to protect an author’s work; the exclusive right to reproduce/sell/distribute a work.

Cover letter: a brief letter that accompanies the manuscript being sent to an agent or editor.

CV: curriculum vita; a brief listing of qualifications and career accomplishments.

Genre: refers either to a general classification of writing, such as the novel or the poem, or to the categories within those classifications, such as the problem novel or the sonnet. “Genre fiction” is work designed to fit into a specific literary genre with which readers are already familiar, such as mystery, romance, or science fiction.

Honorarium: token payment—small amount of money, or a byline and copies of the publication.

Hook: Aspect of the work that sets it apart from others and draws in the reader/viewer.

IRC: International Reply Coupon, for use when mailing to countries other than your own.

Kill fee: fee for a complete article that was assigned and then cancelled.

Lead time: the time between the acquisition of a manuscript by an editor and its actual publication.

ms, mss: manuscript(s).

Multiple submissions: sending more than one piece to a publisher at the same time.

One-time rights: rights allowing a manuscript to be published one time. The work can be sold again by the writer without violating the contract.

Payment on acceptance: the editor sends you a check for your article, story, or poem as soon as he or she decides to publish it.

Payment on publication: the editor doesn’t send you a check for your material until it is published.

Query: a letter that sells an idea to an editor or agent. Usually a query is brief (no more than one page) and uses attention-getting prose.

SASE: Self-addressed, stamped envelope; should be included with all post correspondence.

Short-short: a complete short story of 1,500 or fewer words.

Simultaneous submissions: sending the same article, story, or poem to several publishers at the same time; some publishers refuse to consider such submissions.

Slush pile: the stack of unsolicited submissions received by an editor.

Tearsheet: page from a magazine or newspaper containing your printed story, article, poem, or ad.

TOC: table of contents.

Unsolicited manuscript: a story, article, poem, or book that an editor did not specifically ask to see.


(Sources: Writer’s Market 2009 and Merriam-Webster Online)