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General Terms Glossary for Self-Publishers


Below you will find General Terms and Definitions used in the publishing industry.


Advance Copies: The first finished books that are designated to fill advance orders and special requests.

Contract/Publishing Agreement: A legal document detailing an author’s or illustrator’s agreement to sell to a publisher some or all rights to a creative work. Contracts specify what rights under copyright are being granted, the author’s and publisher’s respective obligations under the agreement, the author’s compensation, and other provisions. When an author self-publishes using services from Inword Publishers, it is the Service Terms and Agreement to Represent.

Copyright: The exclusive, legally-secured right to, among other things, reproduce and distribute works of original expression. Expression is your own unique way of expressing an idea, telling a story, or creating a work of art. Under copyright law, creators hold copyright in a book or other literary work from the moment they put the words down on paper, into a computer file, or into some other tangible medium. Copyright protection generally lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator. After a work is no longer protected, it falls into the public domain. © is the copyright symbol

Imprint: The identifying name of a specific line of books available from the publisher. Publishers may have many imprints.

In-Store or On-Sale Date: The date that a product arrives in the stores and is shelved for consumers to purchase.

Pre-Publication (or Pre-Sales): This term is usually used in conjunction with other terms such as pre-pub costs or pre-pub offers. Pre-pub offers may be made with special incentives to hype initial demand or to learn enough to project post-publication response rates.

Publication Date (“Pub Date”): The date when the author or publisher announces that a particular product will be available. Typically, the pub date is set for a few days after the book’s arrival in stores to help ensure that marketing and publicity can begin on schedule.

Public Domain: If a work isn’t legally protected as intellectual property (possibly because its protection has expired), it’s said to be in the “public domain.” Anyone may reproduce, sell, or otherwise use a public domain work without having to obtain permission. (Intellectual property is defined as products of the human mind such as books, inventions, computer programs, songs, movies, and other works. This means that the creator may have control over uses of the work such as reproduction. Intellectual property is recognized under United States copyright, patent, trademark, and other laws.)

Rights/Subsidiary Rights: Some of the many different ways in which a book can be distributed include through book clubs, as foreign translations, through excerpts in newspapers and magazines, or as a movie adaptation. The rights to distribute a book in one of these or other extended forms are referred to as “subsidiary rights.”

Royalties: A percentage the author or illustrator receives out of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of the book. When contracting with online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes, each vendor sets their own royalty schedule.