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The Author's Glossary

September 09, 2014
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There's no need for a lengthy preamble to this post. The title is pretty self-explanatory.  There is, however, a need for a light warning...

Warning: The following content may be unsuitable for those who are sensitive to snark, bothered by barbs, or allergic to acidic quips.


agent:  One of a handful of people on this planet permitted to enter the office of, make eye contact with, and occasionally even speak directly to an actual publisher.    

Amazon. An immensely successful business that is wanted for the murder of thousands of innocent bookstores.

author (of fiction): A writer who is much more comfortable with imaginary people than with people who take up actual physical space and oxygen.  

author (of nonfiction): A writer who is at least somewhat in touch with reality but who has a strange perversion for creating proposals and outlines. 

bestseller: A book that contains one or more of the following characters: a zombie, a vampire, a werewolf, a wizard, a warlock, a nymphomaniac, a mass murderer, a hitman, an international spy – and preferably one character who is all of these things. Or, any book written by an A-list celebrity. Or, any book written by a B-list or C-list or D-list celebrity who recently released a sex tape.   

book: A small rectangular or square object comprised of pages filled with text intended to help people forget about the devastating things they see on reality TV.    

classic: A word that authors gleefully mutter whenever they witness a renowned colleague tripping on stage while accepting the Pen Faulkner Award.

crime fiction: A genre of writing that provides a somewhat healthy outlet for authors who would otherwise be institutionalized. 

draft: The cold rush of air felt by a writer upon first reading the manuscript edits provided by his or her editor.

ebook: A reading implement designed for people who have a severe aversion to paper cuts, dog-ears and bookshelves.    

erotica: A genre of writing that features more than one climax.

fantasy: What anyone who thinks they can make a living as an author is stuck in.

fiction: What every writer creates whenever answering the question, “How are sales of your book going?”

graphic novel: A comic book for people who have matured beyond comic books.

historical fiction: A genre of writing that prominently highlights events nobody really cared about even back when they actually happened.  

horror: A word that commonly follows the words “oh the” after an author receives his or her first royalty check.

indie author: Just like an indie musician but with a larger vocabulary, fewer fans and no skinny jeans.

literary fiction: What ALL fiction used to be back when authors wrote at real writing desks rather than at Starbucks’ tables, and when they drank scotch rather than Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappucinos.

literature: The pamphlets that desperate authors pass out on the street and in coffee shops in hopes of getting someone to buy their damn book.

manuscript: What writers burn to stay warm once their heat is turned off.

mystery: The only way to describe the huge success of E L James and Stephenie Meyer.

non-fiction: The truth as misremembered by a writer.

novel: Something writers claim to be working on in order to justify their current lack of productivity and success in any other area of their lives.   

publisher: A gatekeeper to the literary world, which, oddly enough, no longer even has a fence around it.

query letter: An author’s formal written request for a rejection notification.  

rejection notification: Official proof that a literary agent or publisher has acknowledged a writer’s existence but not his or her ability. 

royalty. 1. Money that is spent a thousand times over before a writer receives it. 2. What you have to be in order to get a decent book deal these days.

science fiction: Writing that becomes historical fiction after enough time has passed.

self-publishing: A bold and daring way for zealous authors to release books for their parents to read.

short story: A novel that isn’t tall enough to ride this ride.

thriller: A genre of writing that substitutes plot with pistol play, character development with car chases, and eloquence with explosions. 

true crime: The fact that traditionally published authors get to keep only 10% of the earnings from the sales of a book they wrote 100% by themselves.   

writer: A person who, along with an actor, is the driving force behind the waiting and bartending  fields.  

YA: The best way to define YA (pronounced 'why a') is to use it in a sentence: “YA book has to be written for tots, tweens and teens to have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding these days is beyond me.”


NOTE: This glossary is a living, growing entity – unlike most authors’ careers. Feel free to add some of your own relevant and devilish definitions in the “Comments” area below.


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