Publishing Glossary - SaskBooksSaskBooks

Publishing Glossary

There is a REALLY comprehensive list of publishing terminology available from the Publishers Association of the UK, which you can check out here. Another one from The Rainwater Press is available here. Keep in mind that some terms may differ slightly in their meaning depending on where you live. The terms listed below are some common ones you’ll encounter in publishing.

Advance: The portion of an author’s royalties paid out in advance of revenues collected from book sales. Some publishers offer advances, others do not.

Binding: The way pages (Folios) are secured inside a book.

Bleed: (Printing) Printing that goes beyond the Trim Size of the page.

Book: There are probably as many definitions for “book” as there are books out there. The SPG uses the following definition of a book:

Traditional print books: Non-periodic printed publication of at least 49 pages exclusive of the cover pages published in the country of origin, and made available to the public. Exceptions can be made for genres that have been typically shorter in length such as children’s picture books, chap books and graphic novels.

Electronic or audio book forms: Are considered books if they offer the same standard of editorial quality and content as the traditional printed book.

Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) Data: This is a voluntary program provided by the National Library of Canada in which books are catalogued before they are published. More information on CIP Data can be found at the National Library of Canada Website:

Chapbook: A small, usually pocket-sized book. Most often, chapbooks contain poetry, but they can contain short narratives, lyrics, etc.

Copy Editing: (Editing) This is what most people think of as “editing”. Copy editors look for grammatical and spelling errors, inconsistencies, they may make notes for designers regarding production requirements. Check out the Editors’ Association of Canada definitions for more information.

Cut Size: The size of a pre-cut sheet of printing paper. For most of us, that means a sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper, or an A4 sheet. (See Also: Trim Size)

Design: Graphic Designers create the cover art (which includes the front cover, back cover, and spine of a book) and interior design (page layout, front matter, graphical elements, headers/footers, page numbers, folio information, etc.)

Distributor: A person or company who stores your books in a warehouse, prepares orders, and ships books to retail outlets.

EAN Barcode: EAN used to stand for “European Article Number”, and has retained the acronym even though it is now known as the “International Article Number”. It the barcode system by which retailers scan products at the point of sale. Information about the product is encapsulated in the barcode as product identification numbers. Publishers in Canada apply for membership with GS1 Canada and are assigned an unique company identification number, which is the first part of the EAN (also known as the Universal Product Code or UPC). The remaining digits of the EAN/UPC is the book’s International Standard Book Number (ISBN). You can find more information about EAN/UPC codes here:

Editing: “Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible, and film medium used to convey information through the processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications in various media, performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete output.” (Wikipedia: Editing) There are many different kinds of Editing; we encourage you to visit the Editors’ Association of Canada website for their definitions:

Folio: A single complete page. See also – “Leaf”

Galley: Preliminary proofs of manuscripts. They can be unbound, bound, or electronic and are meant for review by authors, editors, and designers.

Imprint: The name and address of the publisher, presented in the front matter of books, a trade name under which a book is published (for instance, “Coteau Books for Kids” is an Imprint of “Coteau Books”), or a means of distinguishing subsequent editions or printings.

Independent Press: Small publishing companies (see also: Small Press) not part of large publishing conglomerates or major publishing houses.

ISBN: International Standard Book Number. You don’t *need* to get an ISBN for your book, but it’s a good idea. Bookstores, libraries, and schools use the ISBN to order and to catalogue books. The ISBN is associated with certain information about your book, including the language in which it is published, the format in which it is published, who published it, and more. You can apply for ISBNs through the National Library of Canada.

Leaf: A single complete page. See also – “Folio”

Micro-press: An Independent Press/Publisher who may only have produced one or two titles. Sometimes, but not always, Micro-Presses are also Self-Publishers.

ONIX: XML Data format book publishers use to submit bibliographic data to statistics-gathering organisations like BookNet Canada.

Pay-to-Print Publishing: Sometimes used interchangeably with “Vanity Press”, Pay-to-Print publishers offer print services, ISBN registration, and sometimes editorial and design services, but do not offer marketing or distribution services to self-published authors.

Perfect Bind: (Binding) Books whose Folios are glued together and attached to a cover (usually paperback/softcover).

Printer: One of the final steps in the production of a book is to send the edited manuscript, with completed design elements (including covers and interior design) to a printer. Some printers also provide bindery services; some do not.

Print-on-Demand (POD): Large printers that can print entire books “while you wait”. They are limited to print runs of about 100 copies, and while the technology is certainly advancing to print in colour and on different paper stock, are still somewhat limited as to cover options, paper weights and sizes, and colour options. Some books are produced for Print-on-Demand, such as some trade fiction, genre fiction, or academic textbooks.

Proofreading: (Editing) Proofreaders read proofs (galleys) of edited manuscripts. They look for consistency of page design, page numbering, layout, and cross-references, etc.. Check out the Editors’ Association of Canada definitions for more information.

Publisher: This might seem like an odd definition to put here, but it’s important. A *publisher* is a person, corporation, or group that undertakes the production of a creative work from manuscript to market-ready book. A publisher is not a printer. The SPG defines a publishers as follows:

Persons, organizations or companies engaged in carrying out the design, as well as the editorial and marketing activities necessary for producing and distributing books. Books include educational materials, art books, graphic novels and chap books. The publisher is the primary risk taker in the production and publication of books. Books may be published in print, audio or electronic form, and must be made available to the public.

Publishing Consultants: A new business model in publishing is for some small, independent presses to offer publishing services (editorial services, design services, distribution and/or marketing services) for payment. This is different from Vanity Publishing in that Publishing Consultants *provide services* to the author but do not *market* to the author.

Recto: The “front side” of a Folio/Leaf.

Royalty: Sadly, not the Queen of England. Or of Holland, or any Queen or King. Royalties are payments made to authors based on the sales of their books. Publishers will undertake a contract with their authors outlining what the Royalties for book sales will be. Although there is no hard-and-fast “standard”, royalties range from 5% of sales to 15% of sales. Therefore, if you have an agreement with your author to pay a 10% royalty on gross sales, and the author’s book retails for $10, you will be paying your author $1 for every book sold.

Saddle-Stitch/Saddlewire Binding: (Binding) A simple form of binding in which pages are stapled or otherwise wire-bound through the middle of folded pages.

Self-Publishing: Since the printed word began to replace oral storytelling, authors have been producing their own work. Self-Publishers create the manuscript and then either produce it themselves (as with small/limited-run art books, chapbooks, etc.) or hire editors, designers, and printers to finish the production. Self-Publishing has become much easier with advances in technology and desktop publishing software, however, Self-Publishers still face most of the difficulties of traditional publishers in terms of securing distribution, marketing, and promotion.

Small Press: (See Also: Independent Press) A small publishing company whose annual revenues are below a certain level. These levels may change from country to country, or even among regions in the same country. Many Small Presses focus on a single genre (eg. poetry, novellas, genre fiction) or niche markets (local travel guides, cookbooks, etc.).

Stitched Bind: (Binding) Books whose Folios are stitched together and sewn to a cover (usually hardcover).

Substantive/Structural Editing: (Editing) Editing done in collaboration with an author. Substantive/Structural Editors may make suggestions about rewording, reorganising, or changing a manuscript for clarity or for pacing. See the Editors’ Association of Canada for more definitions.

Trim Size: (Printing) The actual size of the page after it has been trimmed. Most books are not printed on single sheets of standard-size paper (see Cut Size); but rather are printed on larger sheets of paper and are then trimmed to size. So the pages of a book whose trim size is 6×9 would have started out as the front-and-back (or recto-verso) on a “Parent Sheet”, or much larger piece of paper, for instance, a “Broadsheet”, which measures 17×22.

Vanity Press: Traditionally, a Vanity Press was seen as a business or organisation which produced books at the author’s expense. This definition seems to be changing somewhat, as there are many different publishing models available to writers (see Publishing Consultants, Pay-to-Print, and Self-Publishing). Vanity Presses are not selective in which books they choose to produce. A good definition from Wikipedia states that: “While a commercial publisher’s intended market is the general public, a vanity publisher’s intended market is the author.” (Wikipedia: Vanity Press)

Verso: The “back side” of a Folio/Leaf.