Publishing Lingo

We’ve all been there, eyes glazed over as we listen to an expert in their field ramble on using their industry lingo oblivious that they’ve lost us. In the doctor’s office, in the accountant or lawyer’s office, on a call with some customer service department for a technology device and the acronyms start flying past us at warp speed.

Allow me to demystify some of the publishing world lingo giving you some acumen the next time you speak with someone in the industry.

What is an ISBN?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is a unique 13-digit numeric commercial book identifier. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency. In Canada, it is free to register your own ISBN number with Library and Archives Canada, and in the U.S., you have to purchase one through Bowker. You need a different ISBN for each format you are printing such as hard-cover, paperback and eBook.

What is an ARC?

ARC stands for Advanced Reading Copy and is often used interchangeably with the word Galley Proof. In printing and publishing, proofs are the preliminary versions of publications meant for review by authors, booksellers, bloggers, and proofreaders. Galley proofs can be bound like a paperback with a simple cover or the final cover, they may also be uncut and unbound, or in some cases electronically transmitted. They are created for proofreading and copy-editing purposes, but authors and publishers may also use ARCs for promotional and review purposes.

What is a BISAC?

BISAC is an acronym for Book Industry Standards and Communications and often refers to the subject heading or subject code used by many companies throughout the supply chain to categorize books based on topical content. These classification systems are for both physical and digital products. The systems can be used individually or together to help determine where the work is shelved in a bricks-and-mortar store or the genre(s) under which it can be searched for in an online database.

What is an ITIN?

This one is for our Canadians. ITIN is short for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number which is a number that is assigned to non-resident aliens of the U.S. who earn income in the U.S. You need this number if your publisher is American and you don’t want them to withhold taxes on the royalties you earn. For more information, I suggest you read this great article by Madan Chartered Accountant.

My hope is that once you have finished writing your book and are ready to embark on the journey to publication, you feel empowered with knowledge of the publishing lingo. At best, maybe you have the upper hand at your next trivia night.

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