The complexities of the publishing industry can confuse new and aspiring writers. Inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, I present this handy lexicon to
show you all the terms you need to know as you start your literary career.
#amwriting (slang): Twitter hashtag that signals the arrival of a context-free non-sequitur. Designed to make the activity of sitting in front of a computer sound interesting.
Advance (n.): a sum of money offered to a writer prior to publication; invariably smaller than the advance given to that one author you hate.
Amazon (n.): the Great Beast slouching toward New York City via free Prime shipping. Hey, the UPS truck is here!
[pullquote]Comic Sans (n.): a whimsical typeface derived from Latin sans for “without” and comic for “dignity.”[/pullquote]
Aspiring writer (n.): what authors refer to themselves as when they’re blogging instead of working on their manuscript.
Barnes & Noble (n.): america’s leading retailer of notebooks, pens, and coffee mugs.
Beta reader (n.): a reader who sees an almost-ready draft of your novel before you show it to your VHS readers.
Blogging (v.): authors sharing writing advice with their audience, who presumably consist only of other writers.
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “A vast and empty anchor store
Stands in the mall. Near it, across from Radio Shack,
Half junk, its shattered signage lies, taken down
Its boundless shelves, and kiosk of Starbucks coffee,
Tell that its manager knew what readers read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The buyers that mocked them and the cash that fed:
And on the endcap these words appear:
‘Welcome to Borders, bookstore of bookstores:
Look on our selection, ye Mighty, and save!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The empty parking lot stretched far away.”
Brand (n.): originally a marketing term to describe the signature features of a company or individual. In the social-media-marketing age, it now means pretty much whatever the hell you want it to.