Self-Publishing Glossary

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Acquisitions Editor

The acquisitions editor is the person in charge of acquiring new material for a publishing company. This may include evaluating manuscripts, negotiating contracts with authors, and overseeing the production of new titles.

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Action Beat

Action beats are short descriptive phrases that add detail and life to dialogue. They can be used to indicate a character's emotions, movements, and intentions while speaking. In addition, action beats can help to establish who is speaking at what time and whether their speech should be trusted.

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Active Voice

The active voice is a grammatical sentence structure in which the subject of a sentence performs an action rather than being the recipient of an action.

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Advanced Reader Copy (ARC)

An advanced reader copy (ARC) is a pre-published, almost complete version of a new book that is circulated to people with a vested interest in reading it before print, such as professional reviewers and bloggers. These advanced copies allow people to read the book before its publication date so their reviews can coincide with the book's debut.

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Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables.

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Alpha Reader

Alpha readers are people who read a piece of writing before it is fully edited. They give feedback on the work in its rough, unpolished state before the author has put in all the effort to make it shine. Alpha readers can help authors figure out what works and what doesn’t as they continue developing their work.

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Amazon A+ Content

Amazon A+ Content is additional content you can add to your Amazon sales page. It allows you to use images, text, and tables to make sure your book stands out.

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Amazon Author Central

Amazon Author Central is a service that allows authors to manage their author profiles on Amazon. It also provides an advanced dashboard to manage customer reviews and track book sales and performance.

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Antagonist

An antagonist is the person or force that opposes the protagonist and drives the story forward. The antagonist is often the villain or someone who stands in direct contrast to the main character.

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Anthology

An anthology is a collection of poems, short stories, and essays from a particular period, author, or genre.

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Anti-Hero

An anti-hero is a protagonist who does not have the traditional qualities of a hero. They may be morally ambiguous, flawed, or even downright evil. Anti-heroes are often more relatable and interesting than traditional heroes, providing a different and unexpected perspective on the story.

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Archetype

An archetype is a recurring character or motif in literature that represents a universal human experience. They may be based on real-world stereotypes, or they may be entirely fictional. Archetypes help to simplify complex characters and situations, making them more relatable and easily understandable to the reader.

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Audiobook

An audiobook is a book that is read aloud, typically by a professional narrator.

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Autobiography

An autobiography is a book written by the author about their own life. It typically includes the author's personal experiences and reflections on those events.

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Back Matter

Back matter is the content that comes after the main body of a book. This may include a table of contents, an author's note, acknowledgments, or an index.

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Backstory

The backstory is the part of a story that takes place before the main action begins. It provides context and background information that helps readers better understand the characters and plot.

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Beta Reader

A beta reader is somebody who reads a draft of a piece of writing and provides constructive feedback to the author. Beta readers typically read a more polished version of the text after the author has incorporated feedback from alpha readers.

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Binding

Binding a book is the process of physically attaching the cover and spine to the pages. This is usually done with adhesives, such as glue, or stitching.

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Biography

A biography is an account of a person's life written by another person.

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Bleed

Bleed is the printing term for the edges of a page that extend beyond the trim size.

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Blurb

A blurb is a brief text intended to promote a book by enticing potential readers. It usually contains a short story summary along with the author's credentials.

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Book Club

A book club is a group of people who read the same books or different books together, share book recommendations, and discuss their thoughts on the books they read.

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Book Cover

A book cover is a book's front and back exterior as well as the spine. It usually features the book title, the author’s name, and a design that reflects the story or genre.

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Book Fair

A book fair is an event where readers, authors, or publishers can come together to showcase and celebrate books. These events often feature workshops, readings, author signings, and other literary activities.

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Book Index

An index is a list of terms or topics that are addressed or mentioned in the book's content.

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Book Index

An index is a list of terms or topics that are addressed or mentioned in the book's content.

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Character

A character is a person, animal, creature, or object who appears in a story. They may be the protagonist, antagonist, or supporting character. Characters are developed through the author's use of dialogue, narration, and physical description.

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Character Arc

A character arc refers to a character's journey or transformation throughout a story. This can be either physical or emotional, and their development over time helps readers connect with the characters on a deeper level.

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Chick Lit

Chick lit is a genre of literature that features lighthearted stories about modern women. These books tend to focus on themes like relationships, work, and friendship.

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Citation

A citation is a reference to a specific piece of information in a book or other source. Citations are often used in academic writing and research, and they may include the author's name, the source’s publication date, the page number referenced, or other relevant details.

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Cliché

A cliché is an overused phrase or expression. Clichés are often seen as unoriginal and dull, but they can also be used intentionally to evoke a particular mood or tone. While archetypes and tropes can help readers easily understand a character, plotline, or situation, clichés are considered too trite to strengthen one’s writing.

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Cliffhanger

A cliffhanger is a plot device in which the story ends on a dramatic note, leaving readers eager to know what happens next. This often creates suspense and keeps readers engaged with the story even after it ends.

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Climactic Moment

The climactic moment is the high point or turning point of a story. This is often when the conflict reaches its peak, and it may involve a pivotal decision, revelation, or confrontation during the climax.

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Climax

The climax is part of a story that contains the turning point when the action reaches its peak. It sets the stage and creates tension leading to a significant event or a particular moment that changes the course of the narrative.

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Colophon

A colophon is the final section or page of a book that provides information about the publication, such as the title, the author's name, the publisher, or the publication date.

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Conflict

Conflict is the central struggle of a story that can either be external or internal. It commonly involves two opposing forces, and this friction helps drive the plot forward.

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Content Editing

Content editing is the process of reviewing and revising the content in a piece of writing. This often includes checking for style, structure, clarity, and other important elements.

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Context

Context refers to the circumstances or setting surrounding a particular event, person, or idea. It can include things like historical background, cultural norms, and other relevant details that help readers better understand the subject.

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Copy Editing

Copy editing is a step in the editing process that typically comes after content or developmental editing but before proofreading. This often includes identifying and correcting confusing grammar and syntax, incorrect word use, inconsistencies in tone or content, inconsistencies with a particular style guide, and other important elements.

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Copyright

Copyright is a legal term that refers to the exclusive rights granted to an author or creator for their written work. This includes the right to reproduce, distribute, and create derivative works based on their original creation.

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Copywriting

Copywriting is the process of writing persuasive and engaging content for marketing or advertising purposes. This can involve creating advertisements, sales pages, promotional emails, and other types of materials that help promote a product or service.

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Court Intrigue

Court intrigue is a type of drama that takes place in royal or noble courts. This often involves complex political and romantic relationships, scandalous affairs, power struggles, and other such conflicts.

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Dedication

A dedication is a brief expression of gratitude or appreciation to another person or group of people in a book.

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Denouement

The denouement is the final part of a story or narrative in which the conflict is resolved and all of the remaining plot elements are tied together. This may involve a satisfying resolution, a cliffhanger, unexpected twists and turns, or other reveals that help bring the story to its conclusion.

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Dialogue

Dialogue is the written or spoken conversation between two or more characters.

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Drabble

A drabble is a very short piece of fictional writing, typically between 100 and 200 words.

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Draft

A draft is a rough early version of a piece of writing, often containing unfinished or unpolished content.

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Dystopian

Dystopian is a fiction genre that imagines a grim or overwhelmingly unpleasant society in the near or distant future. These stories are typically characterized by environmental ruin, social injustice, or government oppression.

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E-book

An e-book, or electronic book, is a digital version of a book that can be read on a computer, e-book reader, or mobile device.

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End Matter

End matter refers to the final sections of a book such as the afterword, index, or references.

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Epilogue

An epilogue is a short piece of writing that is added at the end of a book or story. This typically provides a conclusion or final thoughts on the narrative.

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Essay

An essay is a short piece of writing that focuses on a specific topic. Essays can be academic, journalistic, or creative in nature.

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Exposition

Exposition is the introduction to a story or narrative, including information about the setting, characters, plot, and overall tone.

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Fantasy

The fantasy genre is a type of speculative fiction that typically includes magical elements, supernatural creatures, and alternate realities.

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First Act

The first act of a story is the beginning portion that introduces the main characters, setting, and conflict. This often serves as the foundation for the rest of the narrative.

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First Pinch Point

The first pinch point is a narrative technique that occurs in the middle of a story or novel. It acts as a turning point and creates tension by revealing important information about the plot or conflict.

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First Plot Point

The first plot point is a major turning point accompanied by dramatic changes in the story.

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First-Person Narrative

A first-person narrative is a type of storytelling in which the narrator speaks from their own perspective and shares their unique thoughts, feelings, or experiences. This perspective refers to a narrator who uses pronouns such as "I," "me," or "us."

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Flashback

A flashback is a narrative technique in which the author interrupts the story's present action to return to an earlier event or time period. These scenes often provide additional context and backstory for the events happening in the present.

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Flashforward

A flashforward is a narrative technique in which the author provides glimpses of the future. This can help build suspense, foreshadow certain events, or reveal important plot points.

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Formatting

Formatting is the act of arranging and organizing written content to make it easily readable and more appealing. This may involve choosing specific fonts, spacing, layouts, or other stylistic elements.

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Front Matter

Front matter refers to the initial pages of a book or text such as the title page, copyright page, or table of contents.

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Genre

Genre refers to a type of writing that follows certain established characteristics, such as style, content, setting, or tone. Common genres include romance, fantasy, horror, mystery, and science fiction.

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Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting is the act of writing a piece of content on behalf of someone else. The original author’s name does not appear on the work.

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Hardcover

A hardcover, or hardback, is a type of book with a sturdy binding that is particularly durable.

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Head Hopping

Head hopping is a narrative technique that involves switching between multiple characters' points of view within the same scene.

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Hero

A hero is a central figure in a story who embodies characteristics and qualities such as courage, bravery, or conviction. Typically, a hero is on the side of “good” and the reader is meant to root for them.

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Hero’s Journey

The hero’s journey is a common narrative archetype in which the protagonist must overcome various obstacles and challenges to achieve their ultimate goal.

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Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is a type of writing that takes place during a particular time period and uses historical details to bring the narrative to life in that setting.

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Hook

A hook is a phrase or sentence that grabs the reader's attention and makes them want to continue reading.

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Horror

The horror genre is a type of writing that typically features suspense, fear, or violence. Horror works aim to evoke feelings of dread or anxiety in the reader.

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Hybrid Author

A hybrid author is a writer who has published both traditionally and independently.

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Hybrid Publishing

Hybrid publishing refers to a publishing method in which authors work with both traditional and independent publishers. This method can offer the benefits of both models, such as ensuring access to larger distribution networks as well as the author maintaining more creative control over their content.

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Impact Character

An impact character is a secondary character in a story that strongly influences or affects the main character's development and choices.

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Imprint

An imprint is a subdivision within a publishing company specializing in a particular genre.

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Inciting Incident

An inciting incident is a major event or turning point at the beginning of a story that sets the plot in motion and introduces the primary source of conflict or tension.

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Indie Author

An indie author, or independent author, is an author who has self-published their work without the involvement of a traditional publishing company.

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Interior

A book’s interior refers to the design and layout of the pages within a book. This can include fonts, graphics, the layout, and other stylistic elements.

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International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique identifier assigned to every book that is published. This number helps publishers and distributors track books throughout the publishing process, making it easier to identify, order, and sell books worldwide.

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KDP Select

KDP Select is a program offered by Amazon that provides authors with exclusive promotional tools and higher royalty rates in exchange for accepting a 90-day exclusivity agreement.

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Kindle

Amazon's Kindle devices are a line of e-readers and tablets that allow users to download, purchase, and read digital books.

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Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Kindle Direct Publishing is an online platform offered by Amazon that allows authors to publish and sell their books directly on the Kindle Store.

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Kindle Unlimited (KU)

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service offered by Amazon that allows readers to access an unlimited number of e-books for a monthly fee.

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Kindle Vella

Kindle Vella is a reading platform that allows users to access stories released in episodes rather than all at once.

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Line Editing

Line editing is the stage of the editing process in which an editor focuses on improving the accuracy and clarity of sentences, word choice, and overall structure line by line.

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List Price

The list price of a book is the suggested retail or cover price.

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Literary Agent

A literary agent is a professional who acts on behalf of authors to negotiate book contracts and sales.

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Logline

A logline is a brief summary or description of a story that conveys its main conflict and key themes.

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Love Interest

A love interest is a character who forms a romantic relationship or connection with the main character.

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Low Content Book

A low-content book is a physical book that contains little to no content on its interior pages. Typical examples of low-content books are journals, logbooks, or planners.

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Manuscript

A manuscript is the original, unedited version of a book or other written work before it is edited and published.

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Memoir

A memoir is a personal story written by an author about a significant event, time period, or journey in their life.

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Midpoint

The midpoint of a story is an important plot point that occurs roughly halfway through the narrative. It represents a transition point or turning point in the story, often involving a significant change in the protagonist's motivations and actions going forward.

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Minor Character

A minor character is a secondary character who appears in only a few scenes or has a relatively small role compared to the main or supporting characters.

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Motif

A motif is a literary technique that consists of a repeated element within a literary work. This element can take many different forms, such as a specific word, phrase, topic, image, or situation.

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Mystery

The mystery genre is a type of fiction that revolves around investigating and resolving a crime. These stories typically feature a detective or private investigator as the main character who must unravel the various clues, suspects, and motivations behind the crime to bring it to justice.

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Narrative

A narrative is a story that communicates the author's ideas, feelings, experiences, or insights to readers. It can take many different forms and may incorporate other literary techniques as well, such as dialogue and imagery.

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New Adult

The new adult genre is a type of fiction that centers on young adults who are transitioning into full-fledged adulthood. These stories typically explore themes such as young love, friendship, career goals, and personal growth.

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Nonfiction

Nonfiction is a genre of books that focuses on factual information about real-world topics, events, or people.

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Novel

A novel is a piece of long-form fiction that typically tells a complete story and may incorporate multiple plotlines, characters, and settings. Novels typically fall within the range of 50,000 to 100,000 words.

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Novella

A novella is a type of long-form fiction that is shorter than a novel but longer than a short story. Novellas typically fall within the range of 10,000 to 40,000 words.

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Novellette

A novelette is a type of long-form fiction that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novella. Novelettes typically fall within the range of 7,500 to 20,000 words.

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Outline

An outline is a summary or overview of a written work's key points and topics. Outlines are often used as a planning tool to help authors organize their ideas before they begin writing.

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Paperback

A paperback is a type of physical print book bound by a soft cover. Paperbacks are typically thinner and more flexible than hardcover books.

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Passive Voice

The passive voice is a grammatical sentence structure in which the subject receives the action described by the verb instead of performing the action. Sentences using passive voice often have a weak or vague tone and may be less engaging for readers.

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Pen Name

A pen name is a pseudonym used by an author in place of their real name. Pen names are commonly used to protect the author's privacy or maintain a sense of anonymity.

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Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of taking another person's ideas, words, or other creative work and presenting them as one's own. It is considered a form of intellectual theft and may result in legal action or consequence.

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Plot

A plot is the sequence of events in a literary work that advance the story and develop the work’s themes, settings, and characters.

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Plot Hole

A plot hole is a gap in a story's plotline that can damage its sense of believability and cause readers to feel disengaged. This includes inconsistent content such as illogical, improbable, or impossible events and statements.

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Plot Point

Plot points are significant events or moments in a story's plotline that have a major impact on the narrative as a whole. These key events typically involve major changes in the story, such as character development, unexpected twists, turns, or shifts in tone or setting.

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Plot Twist

A plot twist is a surprising change or unexpected turn in the storyline of a written work. These twists often subvert the reader's expectations and can be used to create dramatic tension and build narrative momentum.

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Poetry

Poetry is a type of writing that uses rhythmic language, imagery, and figurative language to convey ideas and feelings. Poetry often explores themes such as love, loss, beauty, pain, or nature in a highly metaphorical or symbolic way.

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Point Of View (POV)

Point of view refers to the perspective from which a story is told. There are three main points of view: first person, second person, and third person. Each point of view conveys the story in a unique way and comes with its own strengths and weaknesses.

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Prewriting

Prewriting is the first stage of the writing process in which authors plan and organize their ideas before the actual writing begins. This may include activities such as outlining, researching, sketching, brainstorming, or plotting out character development.

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Print Run

A print run is the number of copies of a book that are printed at one time. The size of a print run can vary widely depending on the author, publisher, and market demand.

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Print-on-Demand (POD)

Print-on-demand is a printing method in which books are only printed as soon as an order is made rather than being produced in a set quantity in advance.

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Prologue

A prologue is an introductory section at the beginning of a story or novel that sets the stage for the main narrative to follow. It may include backstory, context, or other relevant information that helps readers understand what has happened before the main plot and prepares them for upcoming events.

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Proof Copy

A proof copy is a version of a book that is sent to the author or publisher to review before the final release.

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Proofreading

Proofreading is the final stage of editing in which an author or editor reviews a piece of writing for correct word choice, grammar, spelling, verb tense, and other important elements.

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Protagonist

The protagonist is the central character in a story or narrative. In many cases, the protagonist drives the plot forward and faces significant challenges, obstacles, and conflicts they must overcome.

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Resolution

The resolution is the final stage of a story or narrative in which all remaining conflicts are resolved.

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Resonance

In writing, resonance refers to the power of words and language to evoke a strong emotional response in the reader. This can be achieved by using techniques such as imagery, metaphor, and symbolism to create an immersive literary experience.

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Rising Action

Rising action refers to events, actions, and developments leading up to a story's climax.

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Romance

Romance is a fiction genre that focuses on the emotional and romantic relationships between two or more characters. This can involve themes such as first love, forbidden love, unrequited love, or star-crossed lovers.

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Royalties

Royalties are a share of the profits that an author or publisher receives based on book sales.

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Science Fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that explores scientific or futuristic concepts, such as space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, or advanced technology.

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Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is the process of independently releasing a book or other work without the involvement of a traditional publishing house. This can be done through services such as Amazon KDP or by using print-on-demand technology.

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Series

A series is a set of related stories or narratives that share a consistent storyline, world, or cast of characters. Some popular examples of book series are Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hunger Games.

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Setting

A story’s setting consists of the time, location, and environment in which the story or narrative takes place.

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Short Story

A short story is a type of short-form fiction that is typically much shorter than a novel or novella. Short stories typically fall within the range of 1,000 to 7,500 words.

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Sidekick

A sidekick is a secondary character who accompanies the protagonist on their journey and provides support and guidance.

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Spine

The spine of a book refers to the outside edge of the book where the pages are bound. This part is visible when a book is placed on a shelf and typically includes essential information such as the title, author, and publisher.

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Sub-Genre

A sub-genre is a specialized category within a larger main genre. Typical examples of sub-genres are fantasy romance, mystery thriller, or apocalyptic science fiction.

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Subject Matter

Subject matter refers to the main topic or theme of a written work.

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Subplot

A subplot is a secondary storyline that runs alongside the main plot. Subplots are typically used to explore additional themes and ideas within a story or to add more depth to the main narrative.

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Summary

A summary is a condensed form of a written work that provides an overview of the main plot and key themes.

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Synopsis

A synopsis is a brief summary or outline of a written work. It typically highlights the genre, style, settings, main plot, or important characters.

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Table Of Contents

A table of contents is a list of the chapters or sections included in a book. It typically appears in the front matter and allows readers to identify and locate specific sections within the book quickly.

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Tagline

A tagline is a short memorable phrase that appears on the front cover of a book, often above or below the title. It typically describes the book's main themes and is designed to quickly capture the reader's attention.

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Target Audience

The target audience refers to the specific group of people that a written work is intended to reach.

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Theme

The theme of a book, poem, or piece of writing refers to its central idea or message.

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Third Person

The third-person point of view is a narrative perspective used in written works. This perspective refers to a narrator who uses pronouns such as "he," "she," or "they."

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Three-Act Structure

The three-act structure is a popular story-building template that breaks narratives down into three main components: the setup, the conflict, and the resolution.

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Thriller

The thriller is a popular genre of fiction that typically combines elements of mystery, drama, action, and adventure. Stories in this genre are typically suspenseful, fast-paced, and often involve dangerous or life-threatening situations.

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Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is the process of releasing a book or other work through an established publishing house. This typically includes preparing query letters and proposals, sending out copies of one’s manuscript, or working with a literary agent.

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Turning Point

A turning point is a major moment or event that fundamentally changes the course of the story.

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Writer’s Block

Writer's block is a common mental or emotional obstacle that prevents writers from developing new ideas or finding inspiration in the creative writing process.

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Young Adult

The young adult genre, or YA, is a category of fiction written for readers from 12 to 18 years old. This type of writing typically features characters who are starting to explore their emerging identities and grapple with various challenges such as forming friendships, navigating romantic relationships, and dealing with family struggles.

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Zero Draft

A zero draft is a rough early version of a written work that solely focuses on providing insight into the story and its main elements.

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