Self-Publishing Glossary: From a-book to zero rating: the Terms indie authors need to know, ed. Orna A. Ross

Front cover of Self-Publishing Glossary, ed. Orna A. RossRoss gathers jargon and practices from across the spectrum of publishing in a book that will be of equal use to authors looking to move into e-publishing and those looking to expand beyond the accessibility of KDP.

This book collects hundreds of publishing terms, covering the entire period from finished manuscript to post-publication for both print and e-books.

Both the book description and Ross’ introduction claim this is an attempt to capture the many, sometime conflicting, meanings of both traditional publishing and modern author jargon. While any attempt to document significant companies, business models, and such is at risk of slipping behind the curve and the absence of something one doesn’t know is ever hard to detect, Ross generally fulfils the self-imposed rule to over-define rather than omit.

As might be expected of a book commissioned by the Alliance of Independent Authors, several of the services they offer and processes they advise receive a comprehensive entry; however, the glossary is not solely focused upon a single, organisation-favoured, method of publishing so these might be regarded as closer to adverts than indications of any overwhelming bias.

Perhaps in part because this is primarily a glossary of US English terms, there are a few gaps: for example, the use of ‘comp’ as an abbreviation for comparable authors/books/&c. appears in a number of variations but the use as an abbreviation for complimentary copies does not. Thus, while authors will find this a useful resource for clarifying many terms and practices, depending on the existing state of their knowledge, they are unlikely to find it the only source they need for answers.

Apart from some abbreviations, which are connected to the main entry by cross-references alone, each entry is written in clear language, balancing accessibility with completeness. Therefore, even in the case where it doesn’t answer an author’s query, the glossary offers a solid starting point for further research and formulating good questions for publishers/printers/&c.

Although there is some overlap with the parts of a manuscript (for example, what a foreword is), this book does not cover either the overarching structure of a book or the technical nuances of it such as typesetting. As such matters are already covered in many existing style guides, this prevents the glossary from becoming unwieldy in size without omitting necessary context.

Due to this focus on a specific part of the overall writing and publishing arc, the book is short enough that it is not unfeasible to read it cover to cover within a reasonably short period: while the usefulness of so doing will depend on the specific author, this might highlight new approaches worth more detailed exploration in addition to clarifying existing uncertainties.

Overall, I found this a useful resource. I recommend it to authors and associated persons seeking the most common meanings of jargon or looking for a solid starting point for expanding their understanding of publishing into new areas.

I received a free copy from the publisher with a request for a fair review.

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