The Alphabet Soup of Publishing

alphabet soupBy Jen Malone

Paul’s fantastic post about receiving his F&G (folded and gathered) copy of MONSTER NEEDS A COSTUME had me thinking about all the publishing lingo I’ve learned in the past eighteen months and how much more is likely in my future. (I’ve already been warned of the mysteries of copyeditor abbreviations).

If you spend any time on Twitter or on pub-related message boards and you’re new to the world of publishing, you’re likely encountering an alphabet soup of terms. I thought it might be handy-dandy to compile some of the more common abbreviations in one place for your deciphering pleasure. If I save even one person from a million random Google searches, my work here is done!

In no particular order:

  • MS: Manuscript. Multiple manuscripts is often seen as MSS.
  • WIP: Work In Progress. Warning: Some may be perpetual!
  • ARC: Advance Reader Copy. This is a bound paperback mostly-final version of the book given by publishers to book reviewers, bloggers, and bookstores to encourage advance reviews and orders.
  • PW: Publisher’s Weekly. An industry-respected source of reviews and news.
  • PM: Publisher’s Marketplace. Another industry-respected news source that also posts daily deal reports of acquisitions by publishers.
  • MG: Middle Grade
  • YA: Young Adult
  • POV: Point Of View. This doesn’t mean you should have one, only that your story needs to be told from either first person, second person, or third person perspective.
  • CP: Critique Partner. Someone who will read and comment on your work, help you brainstorm a scene or story, listen to you cry, and offer developmental and line edits. Get one of these, ASAP.
  • ASAP: (just kidding)
  • PB: Picture Book
  • WC: Word Count. It belongs on the top of the title page of your ms.
  • NA: New Adult. There are some questions about whether this is really a “thing” but it seems to be catching on.
  • BEA: Book Expo of America, an annual gathering of most of the publishing world, held in New York each late May/early June.
  • ALA: American Library Association. Holds twice-yearly conferences that offer opportunities for publishers to reach librarians and promote their upcoming releases (with lots of ARCs).
  • SCBWI: Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. We’re pretty keen on them around this-here blog. They sponsor regional conferences throughout the year, a winter conference in NYC, and a national conference in LA each summer.
  • RWA: Romance Writers Association. Also host of a popular conference.
  • CCON: Comic-Con International. Annual summer convention in San Diego that has increasingly become a place where publishers promote their lists with author panels, signings, and booths.

I hope this helps make sense of all the letters floating around out there.

If you can think of any I’ve overlooked or have questions about others, feel free to post them in the comment section.


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