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How to Speak Publishing (Part I)

If you follow authors, editors, and agents on social media, you will probably see some weird words that you don’t understand bandied about. That’s ok! Every industry has its own lingo, and publishing is no different. For example, a book isn’t a book until the pages are bound and it has a cover. Until then, it’s a manuscript.

If your head is already spinning, fear not! By the end of this primer, you will be on your way to speaking publishing fluently.

ARE/ARC/Bound Galley

One thing that people in publishing love is giving the same thing three different names. It’s just FUN! Despite the many names, these three words all mean the same thing. ARE stands for “advance reader’s edition” and ARC stands for “advance reader’s copy.” These are the unfinished, paperback copies of the books that we send to reviewers and blurbers (other authors who give quotes) before the book is officially published. Authors typically get a small quantity of these to share with influential friends (or grabby family members) who want a sneak peek before the book hits shelves. This version of the book is not final, and the text and cover are often slightly different when the book reaches its final form.


At Macmillan, we publish each and every book under one of three seasons—Winter (January, February, March, and April), Spring/Summer (May, June, July, and August), and Fall (September, October, November, and December). So if your book is coming out in December of 2017, it would be classified as a “Fall 2017” book. Why do we have three seasons rather than just refer to each book by its pub month? Having seasons keeps us organized and makes sure that all of the material that the various departments need for each book is done in three big chunks rather than bit by bit.

Transmittal/“Going into Production”

The first thing that needs to happen before a manuscript can magically transform into a book is that our production department needs to receive the manuscript from us. Seems basic, right? But we don’t just drop the manuscript on our production person’s desk and yell “IT’S DONE!” (although that sounds really fun). It’s not that easy! “Transmitting” a manuscript, or delivering it to the production department, involves time, paperwork, and often lots of chocolate and coffee. We have to format the manuscript a specific way, give information about what it’ll look like, and provide copy for the outside of the book so it’ll be as gorgeous as possible.

First pass pages/Pass Pages

After a manuscript is transmitted to production, copyedited, and reviewed by the author, the book gets typeset, which means that the words are laid out nicely on the page. Then, these typeset “first pass pages” or “pass pages” are reviewed by the author to catch any stray typos or change a word here or there. The book will also be proofread at this point, and the author will be asked to address any proofreader queries. This is the exciting time when the manuscript starts to look like a book, which can elicit many excited “squees” from editor and author alike.

For more insight into publishing lingo check out Part II and Part III.

What publishing terms throw you for a loop? Tell us in the comments!

Author spotlight

Kat Brzozowski

Native New Hampshirite. Broadway musical nerd. Work team softball slugger. Embroidery aficionado. I’m one part Ramona, one part the monkeys …

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