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Q is for Query Letter.

publishing writing

I’ve seen a lot of confusion on the web as to terms used in publishing. And I’ll admit I’ve been confused by a few of these myself. So I used my best friend (Google) to find these terms and answers to them.

  1. Query letter: a one-page (typed) letter you send to a literary agent/editor briefly describing your book and yourself.
  2. Manuscript (MS): your completed book; usually typed and available in digital format.
  3. Sample chapters: the first three chapters of your manuscript you send to literary agents/editors as part of your query.
  4. Synopsis: a short (one page, typed) summary of the book which includes all plot points.
  5. Young reader: ages 7-9. Confident readers. A few black-and-white illustrations. Example: The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi.
  6. Early reader: ages 6-8. Just learning how to read on their own. Full colour illustrations. Example: Tilly the Mermaid by Angela McAllister.
  7. MG (Middle Grade): ages 9-12. Sometimes known as the golden age of reading. There’s a lot of series books because they learn how to love a character and want to read more about them. Examples: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan.
  8. YA (Young Adult): ages 13-17. Books for teens with teenaged protagonists. All about popularity and acceptance. Examples: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Tithe by Holly Black, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.
  9. NA (New Adult): ages 18-29. Protagonists are usually in their late teens/ early twenties. Stories are all about the first struggles of early adulthood. All about survival and success. Examples: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas.
  10. Cross-over: YA (and sometimes MG) read by readers older than the target audience. Examples: Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, Harry Potter by JK Rowling.
  11. Writer’s platform: your author presence; allows you to communicate directly with your audience. Examples: blog, website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, speaking engagements, etc.
  12. Blog: an online journal. Blogging (writing in one’s blog) increases an author’s presence online.
  13. eBook: books are published in an electronic format.
  14. Genre: the category a book is given based on subject matter. Examples: romance (Bite Me If You Can by Lynsay Sands), fantasy (The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien), mystery (The Hunted Hare by Fay Sampson), etc.
  15. ISBN (International Standard Book Number): Unique 13-digit number identifying a version of a book.
  16. Literary Agent: a person who handles the business-side of an author’s relationship with the publisher in exchange for a percentage of sales.
  17. VBT (Virtual Book Tour): publicising one’s book on the internet via blog tours, ads on websites, book give-aways, etc. on sites that the target audience frequents.
  18. POD (Print-on-Demand): a publishing arrangement where books are printed as orders are placed.
  19. Slush Pile: unsolicited manuscripts publishing houses/literary agencies receive.
  20. Unsolicited Manuscript: a manuscript sent to a publisher/literary agent who didn’t request it.


I hope this list helped a little. We learn something new every day. The examples I used are from books I’ve read and felt fitted the description (feel free to argue – just don’t be a troll, we don’t pay them here).


 “Life’s ups and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals. Think of using all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want.” – Marsha Sinetar

Fellow scriveners: do you have any publishing terms/examples you’d like to add?