Read on to learn all about terms and words you’ll come across when you venture into self publishing. This dictionary of self publishing terms defines everything from acronyms to publishing platforms, writing terms, and marketing speak. If you have a term to add, or a better definition to share, please comment.
Self Publishing Dictionary
ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange, where authors can create an audiobook.
Aggregator – A publishing aggregator publishes your book to more than one outlet. Lulu.com is an aggregator that can get you on Kobo, Amazon, Nook, and more.
Also Boughts – The list of other books shown on your book page that readers have bought. It can give you a good insight into what your readers like outside of your book.
Amazon – The biggest ebook and print book publisher on the internet, they sell print and ebooks.
Amazon Author Central – An Amazon site that allows you to claim your author profile on Amazon, write a bio, sync your blog and manage your books. You should sign up as soon as you publish a book on Amazon.
AMS – Short for Amazon Marketing Services. Used by authors for book ads that show on Amazon. AMS ads can boost the visibility of your book on Amazon.
Amazon Prime – A program that gives you lots of perks, like free shipping, video and the ability to borrow a book from the KOLL. The features vary depending on what country you’re in.
ARC – Stands for Advanced Reader Copy. Free book copies are given to reviewers, bloggers, etc in exchange for a fair ARC review. Some authors put together an ARC Team of readers, usually interested readers/fans from their mailing list.
Author Central – See Amazon Author Central.
Author copies – Copies of your book you purchase at a discount. These copies are useful for selling in person at events.
Back Matter – Material found at the back of a book, like acknowledgements, a teaser for the next book etc.
Barnes and Noble – A US-based bookstore that sells print and ebooks. Their ebooks are for their ereader, the Nook. Also seen as BN or B&N.
Beta Reader – A person who reads a draft of your book and offers comments. Beta reading usually happens earlier in the process than ARC reading.
Big Five – The five biggest US publishers – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillian Publishers, Penguin Random House and Simon and Schuster. This chart breaks down all of their subsidiary publishing imprints.
BKnights – A Fiverr company that endeavors to get sales for your book.
Blog tour – A virtual book tour. The author goes from blog to blog, providing guest content, announcements, cover reveals etc. Book tours can be organized by book tour companies for a fee.
Blurb – The summary of your book that appears on Amazon, Kobo etc. You might drive yourself crazy trying to write one.
Bookbub – Provides daily emails featuring discounted and free ebooks. Authors pay to feature their book.
Bookfunnel – A website that allows you to upload copies of your book and to give them out in various formats to anyone you wish. It is a pay service.
Book Report – An online service that lets you analyze your sales information from Amazon.
Book trailer – A video with music, images, text and sometimes even actors that give readers a taste of what your book is about.
Box set – A collection that contains more than one book. Can be more than one book from one author (ie, all books in a series) or books from multiple authors.
Calibre – A free program for managing ebooks. Calibre also features ebook creation, conversion and editing tools.
Click farm – A place where reviews and buys/borrows for books are created to inflate a book’s ranking on Amazon and other sites. Seen as extremely unethical.
Copyediting – A copyeditor checks for mistakes, inconsistencies, checks grammar, spelling and punctuation, pays attention to continuity errors, fact checking, and more.
Cover reveal – An event where an author will have an online announcement, blog post, Facebook party etc to reveal their book cover to their readers.
Cream paper – Off-white coloured paper used in printing soft and hardcover books. Amazon/KDP Print cream paper (55lb) tends to be darker than Lulu cream paper (60lb).
Createspace – An Amazon owned print book publishing platform that puts your print book on Amazon.
Cross Promotion – When two or more authors get together to promote their work to each others’ readers. Can be done with Instafreebie promotions, mailing list offerings etc. Usually done within the same genre.
Draft 2 Digital (D2D) – A publishing aggregator that gets your ebook to Kobo, Nook, Apple and more. Often referred to as D2D.
DRM – Digital Rights Management. This is a form of protection put on an ebook file so it can’t be shared. DRM is very easy to break, so many self published authors don’t enable DRM when they publish.
epub – An ebook file format that allows the ebook to be read on a compatible reader or tablet. Most non-Kindle readers use epub files.
Fiverr – A site where you can get almost anything (from graphics to cover design) done for five dollars (or more depending on add-ons). There are often lots of promos available via Fiverr, not all of them legit.
Front Matter – Material that appear before the book begins, such as the copyright page, title page, dedication, introduction etc.
Goodreads – A site for readers to keep track of their books, their reading habits and to review and rate books. Amazon owns the site. Authors can claim their author profile.
Goodreads Giveaway – A free (aside from the cost of the book(s) you offer) program run by Goodreads. You can giveaway your print books here to readers, who enter for a chance to win. You can choose how many copies and how long the giveaway runs. Goodreads picks the winner and you’re responsible for shipping the physical book to them.
HEA – Happily Ever After. The type of ending that is required in romance novels. Novels with romance elements without a HEA are better termed love stories.
Hybrid author – An author that both self publishes and is traditionally published as well.
IngramSpark – A pay service to self publish your book.
Instafreebie – A site that allows you to offer a free sample or book to readers. They have a free account where you can just offer a free copy, but paid accounts can collect email addresses for your mailing lists. The books are searchable and discoverable on the Instafreebie site.
ISBN – The International Standard Book Number. This is the 10 or 13 digit number that identifies a specific book. An ISBN is mapped to that specific format – so a hardcover and paperback have different ISBNs.
ITIN – The Individual Tax Payer Identification Number used to be required for non-US people to submit a W8-BEN, as this was similar to a US Social Security Number. .
KBoards – A message board for Kindle owners. There is a Writer’s Cafe section for authors with publishing information.
KDP Select – A Kindle Direct Publishing program that allows authors to list their ebook for inclusion in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. You must be exclusive to Amazon (ebook only available there). You are paid for pages read by borrowers. Enrollment is on a 3-month at a time basis. You also get days to offer your book for free and days to offer it as a discount.
KENP – Acronym for Kindle Edition Normalized Pages. This is a page count Amazon gives your ebook so when it’s in the KDP Select program, they can calculate how many pages of it were read.
Keywords – Words used to describe your book. Choosing the right keywords and keyword combos, especially on Amazon, can get you into more categories and visible in more searches. Often a trial and error process.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – This is the platform for authors to publish ebooks and print with Amazon. It is free to use (Amazon takes a cut of any book you sell). They began a print program, KDP Print, in 2016.
Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) – Similar to KU, this program is part of Amazon Prime in the US. Prime users get access to the KOLL with their membership, allowing them to borrow 1 book per month to read. Content is the same as the KU store.
Kindle Press – Amazon’s indie publishing imprint, they publish Kindle Scout novels.
Kindle Scout – An Amazon program that allows readers to determine whether a book gets published. Chosen books get their work published by Kindle Press.
Kindle Unlimited (KU) – For $9.99 per month, subscribers get access to Kindle Unlimited books, and can read up to 10 books per month for free. As an author, you can get your book in this program by enrolling in KDP Select.
Kirkus Review – A site where you can request a review of your book. Prices start at $425.
Kobo – An ereader and bookstore by Rakuten Kobo, it’s largest market is Canada.
Kobo Plus – A program you can enroll your book in if you publish via Kobo Writer’s Life. It’s similar to KDP Select, and pays you for page reads.
Kobo Writer’s Life – The platform to publish your ebook on Kobo.
Lightning Source – A pay service to self publish your book.
Line edit – A line edit goes over the manuscript line by line, and looks for extraneous words, run-on sentences, strange phrasing, and passages that need clarification or punching up etc.
Look Inside – A free program by Amazon that allows people to see a free sample of your book, and turns on 1-click ordering.
Loss Leader – Pricing your first book in a series lower or free to encourage people to read and buy the rest. It may sell well but net you little to no royalties.
Lulu.com – A free aggregator publishing platform that publishes print and ebooks to Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Apple, Barnes and Noble and more. They take a cut of your royalty as a fee.
Mailchimp – A mailing list website that allows you up to 2000 free mailing list members without paying. Let’s you design, send and maintain an email list for free.
Mailerlite – Similar to Mailchimp, but only 1000 free members.
Mailing List – A newsletter sent out every so often by an author to announce new books, deals, events etc. Building a mailing list is seen as a common step to take when building your author platform.
Mass market paperback – A book that is pocket sized – usually around 4×7 or so. They are not very common in self publishing.
MilSF – Military Science Fiction.
Mobi – An ebook file format. Mobi files can be loaded on a Kindle.
NA – Stands for New Adult. Books about characters in their early to mid-20s, just starting out in life. Geared to that same age group, but popular with readers of all ages.
NCX – Navigation Control XML File. It’s a file in your epub that tells an ereader how to display your book, and is usually generated automatically by the epub creation program.
Netgalley – A service that promotes upcoming books, usually by getting them reviews by bloggers, journalists, booksellers etc. It is not cheap to get your book on Netgalley.
Nook – The ereader sold by Barnes and Noble which is exclusive to them. Not common outside of the US.
Organic – Used to refer to mailing list subscribers that were not gained through a promotion.
Overdrive – The ebook distribution system that libraries use.
PA – Post-Apocalyptic
Page Flip – A Kindle feature that lets a reader “pin” their current page and flip ahead to another page.
Page reads – Refers to how many pages a reader will read in a KU/KOLL book. Payments are based on pages read.
Permafree – Selling a book for free permanently. The thought is if you have a series, the first book being free will encourage people to read it and hopefully continue on to purchase the rest of the series.
Platform – A publishing platform is a company that provides the means necessary to put a print or ebook out for sale to the public. You can be on one platform (for instance, KDP) or multiple ones.
PNR – Stands for Paranormal Romance.
Point five books – .5 books are usually shorter novellas or short stories that fall between the main novels in a series. Amazon doesn’t include .5 books in the series pages sadly.
Prawn – A term coined on Kboards referring to writers that don’t earn a lot of money each month.
2 figures/month: plankton
3 figures/month: prawn (500+= lobster)
4 figures/month: trout (5000+= rainbow trout)
5 figures/month: salmon
5 figures/month over 50k: dolphin
Pre-order – To order a book before it’s on sale. You receive the book on its release day.
Premade – Short for a premade book cover. They sell for less than a custom made cover, but there is usually no customization allowed outside of title/name.
Price match – When a platform (usually Amazon) matches the price of your book to a (usually) lower price found on another platform. Commonly sought by authors when they price their book free at some platforms in hopes Amazon will price match it to free there as well – Amazon doesn’t allow you to set your book to free on your own.
Promoted Post – A paid Facebook option to boost the visibility of a post.
Pronoun – A newer service for self publishing your book.
Proofreading – A proofreader checks the printed book against the official edited manuscript to make sure everything is correct.
Rafflecopter – A site that helps you run an online giveaway but automating a lot of the process.
Rank – How your book ranks against others in sales and page reads.
Reader magnet – An offering to attract a reader to your books – usually a free book, like a prequel or book 1 in a series, or a starter library.
Royalties – The money you make from the sale of your book. Most publishing programs take a small cut of each ebook or print book sale to cover their costs, and you receive the rest. This is your royalty.
Scrivener – A writing program that allows for lots of planning and plotting and exports to epub.
SF – Stands for Science Fiction
Sigil – A free program that allows you to create and edit epub files.
Smashwords -An ebook only self publishing platform. It doesn’t publish to Amazon.
Standalone – A novel that is not part of a series.
Starter library – Some authors offer a collection of their ebooks to people who subscribe to their newsletters, that usually includes the first books in their series or related short stories or novellas.
Steamy – Term for romances with more sex, but that doesn’t fall into erotica territory. It may run close to erotic romance.
Street team – A team of people put together by an author, usually from mailing list members, who will be ARC readers, and sometimes assist with getting the word out about a new release on social media etc.
Sweet/clean – Terms used for romance books that are not racy and don’t contain sex. The preferred term is sweet.
TOC – Table of Contents. All ebooks must have a Table of Contents so readers can navigate within the book with their ereader.
Trade paperback – A book that is larger than a mass market (pocket) size. They vary between 5×8 and 6×9. Traditionally they were softcover versions of the hardcover book, and the same size as the hardcover (usually 6×9).
Traditionally Published – An author published by a publishing house or indie press.
UF – Urban Fantasy.
Vanity Press – A company that will charge an author money to publish their book.
Vellum – A Mac-based program which allows you to create ebooks.
Verified Purchase – A designation used on Amazon to show that a reviewer actually bought the book in question. KU/KOLL borrows do NOT show as verified purchases.
W-8BEN – A tax form for non-US authors to fill out and send to the platform that informs the publishing platform how much in royalties to withhold for US taxes – your country’s treaty may indicate there be no withholding or a percentage less than the standard 30%.
Wide – A term used by authors to indicate they aren’t exclusive to Amazon and sell their ebooks elsewhere as well. Also seen as “going wide” when an author says they may take their books out of KDP Select to sell on other platforms.
Withholding – Money that a publishing program withholds from the author to pay US taxes. If you are non-US, and your country has a tax treaty with the US that covers royalties, your withholding may be less than the 30% the US takes. In order to stop the withholding, there are US tax forms to send in or an online tax interview to fill out. See W-8BEN.
WordPress – A blogging/website platform. Two versions exist, the free .com site and the self-hosted .org.
Wraparound – A print book cover that is one file – a front, spine, and back cover.
Write to market – When an author researches popular genres and what’s selling, and then writes a book in that genre or sub-genre. Other authors may write what they like and worry about how to market it after (um, hi lol).
YA – Stands for Young Adult. Books aimed at teenaged readers. They often feature teenaged characters.
Comment if you have anything to add!