28 May 2015

Publishing Basics: The Language of Publishing

So you've finally finished your book and found a publisher who will present your book to the world. What you might not realize is that, especially in the indie publishing world, your publisher will need your input on a number of aspects in creating a real live print edition  or eBook. You're now swimming in the publishing end of the pool and it’s important to understand the language of publishing. Every industry has its own list of arcane wording and acronyms. Being able to “speak publishing” will not only save you and your publisher time, but you will be able to demystify the publishing process. While the list below isn’t exhaustive, it will give you a good basis in which to communicate with your publisher.
  • 300 DPI: Images and photographs are not only measured by length and width, but by resolution or Dots Per Inch (DPI). Think of each image as being made up of single points of color. The more points you have in an image, the higher the resolution. Most of what you see on the web are images that are somewhere in the 72 to 150 DPI range. While these images can be used for eBook publication (if you hold the rights or permission to use an image), images for print editions require at least a resolution of 300 DPI. Large images can be shrunk down to create a higher resolution from a lower resolution source file. For example if your original is 72 DPI, but is 3000 by 5000 pixies, you can shrink the image for a higher resolution. This method will result in a smaller print size and the image may be too small for publication. There’s no magical way to make a small low resolution image fit for print, so if you’re going to have images in your book make sure they’re of a proper resolution. Well there are a few magical ways to make lower resolution images higher resolution, but you're not going to get a quality image calling on the magic of Merlin's beard.
  • Alpha (or Beta) Readers:  These terms can be slightly interchangeable, but the gist is that an Alpha or Beta reader is someone you've let read your book before sending off your final manuscript. Technically speaking, an Alpha Reader get your first draft. Usually you owe, or will owe, this person a few beers for looking at your unpolished work. A good Alpha Reader is someone who really doesn't care for you as a person and is willing to give a brutally honest opinion of your work. A Beta Reader is someone who gets your polished manuscript before you send it off to an editor. Both sets of readers need to give you an overall impression of your book, look for continuity issues, factual errors, and basically anything about your book that looks hinky. Once again, don't get your mother to be an Alpha or Beta Reader. She'll love anything you write and will probably not give you an objective opinion.
  • Bar Codes: A book's bar code is exactly the same thing as you see on items in your local grocery store. In the case of a book, the book's ISBN and pricing information is embedded in the bar code instead of a box of cereal's Universal Product Code and pricing information (UPC). Here's a world of caution, if a website, cover designer, or anyone else is going to charge you to create a bar code, they're ripping you off. There are tons of free tools online that can create high resolution bar codes with pricing and ISBN information embedded in those little lines.
  • Billing Cycle, Billing Terms, or Credit Terms: This is an accounting term that refers to once a publisher cuts an invoice to a vendor or distributor, how long that vendor has to pay up. Usually billing terms are worked out between publishers and vendor before a sale is made. This gives the vendor time to sell books in order to cover the price of the invoice. It's a standard practice in business to offer credit terms and it's not uncommon for publishers to offer 60 to 90 day terms to their vendors. This trickles down to authors who generally have to wait until vendor invoices are paid to see their cut of book sales.
  • BISAC Subject Heading: The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has created a more or less industry standard for applying topics to books. We use this system and the majority of our vendors do as well.
  • Bleed: The amount of printing that goes beyond the edge of a page before that page is trimmed. Most printers require some bleed on covers and interiors of books. So if your publisher says, “We can’t have that element out that far on a page”, it’s because of printer’s bleed requirements.
  • Brick and Mortar: Traditional retail stores that sell books.
  • Color Shift: What you see on screen is not always what you get when it comes to printing a book. Different presses interpret colors of their own accord. Usually the difference between what you see on a calibrated monitor and what pops out of a press is minimal. However, there can be differences and a proof copy of your book should show any color variations.
  • Content Editor, Copy Editor, Line Editor: Once again there are differing definitions of these different types of Editors, but here's the broad strokes. A Content Editor is the first Editor in the process who is interested in how your story flows, factual errors in your text, unresolved plot lines, etc. A Copy Editor is someone who generally proofreads, checks the syntax, word usage, and flow of your text. A Line Editor is more interested in polishing your verbiage and making sure your language has a constant flow and tone. If you're speaking with an editor, make sure exactly what you're getting for contracting that person. The definitions of these different types of editors aren't set in stone and many editors perform multiple tasks. Once again, find out precisely what services you'll be getting from an editor and it doesn't matter what their title is.
  • Copyright: This is a huge ball of wax that this article will not do justice . Basically, a copyright is a legal term that identifies your work as belonging to you. We suggest that you check out the US Copyright Office’s website for more information about copyright basics. Remember that anything you write has an inherent copyright, but registering that copyright with the Copyright Office will assist you in legal proceedings should someone use your works without your permission. Also remember that anything (text, photos, etc) found on line were created by someone and you’ll need permission to use that work by the creator.
  • CYMK: A color specification system that uses four basic colors: cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K). The CYMK color system is generally used in full color printing. The vast majority of images seen online or taken by digital cameras are part of the RGB (red, green, and blue) color system and have to be converted to CYMK should a printer require that system.
  • Distributors or vendors: These are businesses that sell books at wholesale to retail outlets. Here’s how the traditional supply system works. Publishers sell books to distributors. Distributors sell books to retailers. Retailers sell books to the end consumer. In the digital marketplace, in some instances the need for distributors as diminished over the years as publishers are selling their books directly to retail outlets.
  • ePub: The most common file format for eBooks. Like the old VHS and Beta video formats, eBooks have different file formatting options. ePub is currently the most ubiquitous format and a number of online marketplaces utilize eBooks created with it.
  • Gross Profit: The total earnings for a good or service without consideration of cost. For example if your book retails at $10 and you sell 100 in a month, your gross profit is $1000.
  • ISBN: International Standard Book Number. Every print book has to have an ISBN per the gods of publishing. There’s no way around registering an ISBN for a print book and there are a number of brokers that deal in individual ISBNs and bulk ISBN sales.
  • Layout: How elements of a book look on a page. This generally refers to the internal design of a book.
  • Leading: (Pronounced like the metal and not someone who directs the efforts of others...) Leading is the spacing between lines of print. The term comes from a time when type was hand set and strips of lead were used to separate lines of text.
  • MOBI: Amazon Kindle’s eBook format. For some reason Amazon decided to create their own eBook format and all books found on for the Kindle use their proprietary formatting.
  • Net Profit: The amount of money made on a good or service after expenses are applied. For example: a book is sold for $10 and the cost of printing and delivery is $4.50. The net profit is $5.50.
  • Orphan: A single line of a paragraph at the top or bottom of a page. This can also be known as a widow. Having a orphan or widow on a page is generally a no-no and should be avoided if all possible.
  • Perfect Binding or Perfect Bound: Most of the soft cover books you see on shelves use glue to stick the cover stock to the pages and the pages to each other.
  • Print on Demand: This is a printing/inventory model that is rapidly taking over the publishing industry. Print houses store a digital file of your book and when an order is placed, a book is printed and delivered to the customer. Print on demand offers a vast flexibility for publishers and does away with the need of warehousing tons of books. In most print on demand models, the cost of printing is covered by the purchase price of the book.
  • Proof: Refers to a pre-publication copy of a book. Proofs can either be physical or digital copies of your book. Dependent on your project, digital proofs can be just fine to work from. However, if you’re book has images you might be better off seeing how the digital images translated into print.
  • RGB: See CYMK above. 
  • Royalties: An author or publisher’s compensation for selling a book. This can also be called residuals. Usually an author or publisher makes a percentage of net profits on each of their titles sold.
  • Trim or Trim Size:  The actual size of a publication or book after the bleed is cut.
Follow Grave Distractions Publications on Twitter @GraveDistract, Facebook, Pintrest, or LinkedIn

No comments:

Post a Comment