So what does it all mean?

Just a short post today folks to clear up some definitions that have been causing confusion in the writing world of late. I know, I know, it’s just words right, and who cares if the terminology isn’t right?


Here’s the thing though, if you want to work in the publishing industry in any capacity then you SHOULD know the correct terms for things, there’s really no reason to get them wrong, and really no reason to make up new ones because you don’t like the correct ones.

At the end of the day, if anyone should be getting the words right then WRITER’s should.


1. Indie publisher / writer

This is my personal bugbear to be honest, and I see it used incorrectly all the time, mostly as a ‘cool’ description of self publishing used by folks who perhaps don’t like the connotations of the term ‘self published.’ However, ‘indie’ or ‘independent’ is a term that already has a meaning in the publishing world, it’s used to describe books that have been published by publishers and presses who are not part of the Big Six (Hachette, Holtzbrinck/Macmillan, Penguin-Putnam, HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster).


2. Legacy Publishing

I’m not sure where this term has sprung from, but lately it’s been in use to describe traditional publishing houses. The term itself is quite negative in it’s connotations, suggesting, by the definition of ‘legacy’ that the system is old and only for the privilaged. To that extent I can almost get this one, as publishing is hard to break into, and it can seem that for many writers it’s a locked door only opened by who you know. But, it’s still not an accurate term, try ‘traditional’ or ‘trade’ if you must.


3. Traditional / Trade Publishing

This is the system by which publishing houses and presses operate – the work is read and purchased, often after already coming through an agent, it’s edited and produced by the publishers own team. Advances and royalties are paid, the author doesn’t pay for the work to be published. There is a contract. The publisher arranges for printing and distribution and arranges the publicity etc.


4. Epublished and Self Published ebooks

Not all ebooks are self published. And not all self published books are ebooks.  Self publishing is a publishing system, while ebooks are a format. Traditional publishers put our ebooks as well, and there are many great publishers who ONLY produce ebooks.


5. Vanity Publishers

Vanity publishers  are publishers who will charge you to publish your book. This can run from anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand pounds.  This is NOT the same as self publishing. It can be confusing for some authors as vanity publishers can sometimes be referred to as subsidy publishers or co-operative publishers. Vanity publishing is not a bad thing, although it’s gotten a lot of stick of late. A good vanity publisher will be upfront with you and not try to deceive you into thinking they are a traditional publisher, they won’t lie to you or spread misinformation about the publishing industry (I’ve heard too many new writers being told that the only way to get a book published is to pay for it to be done).


6. Establishment Publishing

No, I’m not making this up. Establishment publishing is a term I’ve heard a bit, mostly from anti-traditional publishing folks, to describe trade / traditional publishing.


7. Genre fiction

Any fiction that is not literary – such as chick lit, sci-fi, horror etc. Sometimes called popular fiction or commercial fiction.


8. Literary Fiction

Generally literary fiction is considered to be more ‘serious’ novels, which tend to primarily focus on characterisation and style than narrative. I’m not going to get too drawn into the differences between literary and genre fiction because, to be honest, sometimes the lines are so blurred and there is already plenty of discussion about the differences elsewhere.


9. Solicited / Unsolicited

A solicited manuscript is a book that agent or publisher has asked to see. An unsolicited manuscript is one which the agent or editor has not asked for, unsolicited manuscripts are often called ‘slush’.


That’s about all I have time for today folks, sorry it’s pretty short, but I promise more discussion about the Great Self Publishing experiment, and also an update on what’s happening with the Kindle Select book.

Bye for now though.






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