I’ve always believed that if you learn the vocabulary of a profession or field, you can understand it much better—and this is certainly true of publishing. Publishers often use language unfamiliar to laymen—terms like developmental editing, line editing, and copy editing; soft proofs, hard proofs, interior proofs, and cover proofs, and others.

Often, some of the most confusing terms for new authors are those that involve the period between the moment they finish working with their publisher to edit and revise their book, and its actual publication. When all files are approved and the author has no further changes or corrections to make to their book, the publisher will usually ask them to sign a print release—essentially a form declaring, “I’m ready to print my book!” Once the print release is signed, the publisher sets a release date three to six months in the future, to mark when the book will be shipped to the booksellers and customers who preorder it.

The intervening months, or pre-release period, allow the author and publisher time to promote the book. The promotion accomplished during this period is similar to a preview announcing the release of an upcoming film: it introduces the work to its intended audience—and to the press, reviewers, and bloggers—to inspire them to talk and write about the work in advance of its release. Like filmmakers, authors hope that when the fruit of their labor is finally released into the world, hundreds or thousands of potential audience members will be moved or persuaded to purchase their work: if a filmmaker’s marketing is successful, tickets will be sold, and the theater will be packed at the premier; and if an author’s marketing is successful, their book will fly off the shelves.

At Brandylane, we know that this outcome is what every author wants. We believe that forewarned is forearmed, and that it’s never too early for an author to learn about every aspect of publishing. That’s why we do our best to provide our clients and readers alike with jargon-free instructions and explanations about the publishing process—a process that can sometimes be complex and intimidating, especially for new authors. If you have questions about the lexicon of the publishing world—whether you’ve already written a book or not—feel free to call or email us. Answering questions is one of our specialties—and we do it in simple language.

written by Robert Pruett, publisher