45 Seconds of Fame

Some people get 15 minutes, but I revel in my 45 seconds of fame. This morning between 7-7:30 AM, much to early for normal humans to be awake, I was on the news talking about one of my favorite books to handsell, The Night Tourist. Since I didn't manage to get up this morning, I can't confirm that it actually aired. But I did film the segment yesterday, so I will just assume that I am now an Austin celebrity.


More Definitions for Your Viewing Pleasure

Acquisitions editor - (n.) an editor with the ability to submit book ideas for publication to the publisher. I (Chuck) am not an acquisitions editor, as I edit and update three directories each year. Coworkers, however, are acquisitions editors, and can take pitches for books in the Writer's Digest Books imprint. I (Buried Editor) am an acquisitions editor, and take pitches at conferences for children's books.
(Similar, but not the same, is a submissions editor, which is a more common term in magazines. A submissions editor on staff will review all queries that come in.)

Board book - (n.) a small format picture book for children under the age of three. The book is printed on thick cardboard like paper that is impervious to ripping and baby drool.

Clips - (n.) In journalistic terms, a sample of a writer's published work, usually from a newspaper or magazine. Editors often mention that clips or clippings should be mailed or e-mailed when an author queries them with an idea.

Comp copies - (n.) free copies of a book that an author receives from the publisher. The number varies from deal to deal. Comp copies are also sent out to authorities on the book's subject so they can provide positive testimonials or blurbs for advertising copy.
(I, the wondorous Buried Editor, have never referred to them as comp copies but as Contributor Copies or Author Copies. See, we can all learn something new.)

Denouement - (n.) French for an untying. The denouement of a novel or story follows the climax; it represents the unraveling pf the complexities of a plot, and the clarifying of the story's details and misunderstandings.

F&G: stands for Fold & Gather - (n.) The picture book version of a galley. They are not bound but show the picture book in all its four-color glory. It's then sent to reviewers and the like.

MS: stands for Manuscript - (n.) The typed, double-spaced, in-a-standard-font version of an author's work submitted to a publishing house.

PB: stands for Picture Book - (n.) A book for younger children that has sparse text and big, colorful (or occasionally black and white) pictures. Generally they have 32 pages. They are more difficult to write than most people realize, and despite a recent microscopic turn, the market for them has been sluggish at best for a while.


As you may have noticed, (or if you're seeing this someplace other than blogger you probably haven't) I have a list of important publishing terms and my own unique definitions on the side of my blog. However, there were several important terms I overlooked, so my friend Chuck over at The Guide to Literary Agents and I are compiling a new, more comprehensive list. The ones in normal print are mine, in italics are his. Chuck's are also slightly more serious.

The Buried Editor & GLA's Irreverent Literary Definitions, Volume 1:

To Acquire - (v.) The act of accepting a manuscript for publication. A work is not officially acquired until the contracts have been signed. Until then, it's in the process of being acquired.

ARC: Advanced Reading Copy - (n.) A bound copy of a book given to reviewers, booksellers, and other interested members of the industry for the purpose of creating excitement prior to the release of the book. Although these are not the final copy, they tend to be pretty damn close with cover art and some interior illustration. Although not the same thing as a galley, the words may be used interchangeably.

Galley - (n.) A bound version of just the text of the book (or article, if writing for magazines). There is little to no illustrations and the cover is a solid color with release data printed on the cover. Used for the same purposes as ARCs.

IRC: International Reply Coupon - (n.) International postage so that countries who don't use American currency stamps can mail back your submission and/or notification of rejection.

Sic - Latin for thus or so. Usually [enclosed in brackets] or (parentheses), sic is inserted after a word, phrase or expression in a quoted passage to indicate that the word or phrase has been quoted exactly as it was written, even though it may seem strange or incorrect (e.g., there was a spelling error in the quote).

Slush - (n.) Unsolicited manuscripts submitted to a publishing house. They tend to accumulate into mountainous piles.

Stet - Latin for let it stand. Editors and proofreaders place the word stet in the margin of a manuscript to indicate that a marked change or deletion should be ignored, and the copy typeset in its original form.

Vet - (v.) A term used by editors when referring to the procedure of submitting a book manuscript to an outside expert for review before publication. A manuscript is usually vetted at the publisher's expense.


The Old Days

I just finished reading Charles Shields new book I am Scout, the teen adaptation of his adult biography on Harper Lee. Although I found it fascinating, I think it's a bit dry and dull for younger kids but good for older readers and adults uninterested in reading the full version. It's what I consider to be a good biography. There aren't any made up conversations or imagined scenes, just good old fashion research and documented quotes. It's the kind of biography I wish was written more often for kids.

The thing I found most interesting in the book wasn't the fact that Harper Lee grew up next door to Truman Capote or that she was instrumental in helping him research In Cold Blood. No, I found her relationship with her editor to be the most fascinating part. I know that this was much more common in the past then now, but Harper had a very personal relationship with her editor. They worked together for 3 years editing To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper used to spend weekends at her editor's summer house to escape New York City. They were close friends, and her editor nurtured both Harper and her writing.

Now days I don't think anyone, even the writers and editors living in New York, that have this kind of relationship. No one, certainly not the editors in bigger houses with their firm deadlines (as opposed to my looser ones) can afford to contract manuscripts that require 3 years of rewriting. I simply can't start from scratch with an author. I can't simply say that this person writes well and may someday develop a story. No, the book has to be fairly far along and require little major input from me. It's why editors prefer agented manuscripts. They just tend to be farther along. Even with authors that have sent me drafts in earlier stages and that I feel I've somewhat nurtured, I know that I haven't had the same impact on their lives and writing that Harper's editor had on her.

In some ways this makes me sad, but in other ways I understand the necessity. Publishing is still a business, and business decisions have to be made. Books that are interesting, but just not there have to be passed on for books that are ready and marketable. I wish that I could spend leisurely weekends discussing children's literature with my authors here in town, but I work in a bookstore on Saturdays, and my authors have other lives as well. Very few of them are full-time writers. And though I may lament it, I don't think the good old days of writing are coming back. Tony Randall in the movie "Down with Love" has an excellent line right after Renee Zwellger book becomes an international bestseller. Although I may deplore the sentiment, I still can't help smiling at the truth of it. Tony congratulates Renee and tells her that her book is a prime example of why they all went into the book industry in the first place -- for sales.