I often use social media to post author news, musings and industry tidbits. My publishing pals know the lingo, but occasionally, a friend or relative chimes in with, What are you talking about? What’s an F&G? And why isn’t your book out yet? Haven’t you been talking about it for years? Fair questions, all.
So, I thought it would be helpful to create a glossary of terms frequently used in the kidlit community, to help interpret an author’s Twitter feed, Facebook page, or simply just the things they mutter under their breath while pacing around the room. It’s alphabetized, for your convenience.
ARC – Acronym for “Advance Reading Copy,” this is an early copy of novel or chapter book, before final edits. The receipt of an ARC typically causes authors to go into spasms of pure joy, run around their apartment, house, neighborhood, grocery store, etc., informing anyone who will listen that their book is REAL. (See also: F&G)
Book Dummy – It’s a “crash test version” of a picture book with text and sketches paced out over either 32 or 40 pages. Although it is typically the work of an illustrator to make a book dummy, authors with no drawing skills can put together a dummy with text and stick figures for their illustrators to giggle at later.
Crit Group – Short for “critique group,” this is a gathering of writer colleagues who provide invaluable feedback on your early messy drafts. Other functions of the critique group may include: professional commiseration and infusions of self-confidence, snacks, dessert and Prosecco.
Deadline – the date by which authors and illustrators must turn in the finished manuscript or final art. Mild and innocuous at the outset, the word becomes increasingly menacing as time passes.
Edelweiss – In addition to being a flowering plant and a song from The Sound of Music, it is an ancient and mysterious portal where all the children’s books in the world are listed. Like Freemasonry, you must know a secret password to gain entry.
F&G – Abbreviation for “Fold and Gather,” this is an unbound copy or “approval proofs” of the layout of a picture book sent by the publisher in advance of publication. The receipt of F&Gs typically cause authors and illustrators to go into spasms of pure joy, run around their apartment, house, neighborhood, grocery store, etc., informing anyone who will listen that their book is REAL. (See also: ARC)
Goodreads – A social media site where readers share and rate books. Most authors and illustrators do not obsess over their Goodreads reviews. Ever. Not ever.
Heart – An essential children’s book story ingredient; often paired with “voice” and “humor.” (See also: Kate DiCamillo and Lynda Mullaly Hunt)
Indies – Abbreviation for independent bookstores, indies are home to passionate book-loving beings. Without indies, and the booksellers who inhabit them, many wonderful books would remain unseen spines on a shelf. (See also: School Librarians)
Jacket Flap – The part of a book authors often flip to first, to once again confirm their book is REAL.
Kirkus – The review publication authors love—and fear.
Launch Party – An excellent reason to hang out in your favorite indie, buy books and eat cupcakes.
Mr. Schu – The affectionate moniker of John Schumacher, a veteran K-5 librarian, ALA awards committee member, blogger, mover, shaker and lifelong lover of books-maker. He’s now Scholastic’s Ambassador of School Libraries, spreading book love far and wide.
Nerdy Book Club – An awesome online community of readers. It also gives out book awards aptly titled: Nerdies.
Outline – A chapter map for a novel. It is a deeply polarizing subject along which writers divide into “plotters” (those who plot their novels in advance) and “pansters” (those who write by the seat of their pants).
Platform – Contrary to popular misinformed opinion, a children’s book author’s platform is not the stage they stand on at school visits—it’s a complex concept only John Green and Jane Friedman fully understand. (See also: John Green and Jane Friedman)
Query Letter – A brief single spaced typed letter written for the purpose of persuading an agent or editor to read your manuscript. Most authors agree, drafting the query is often harder than writing the *@%#’n novel.
Revision – The part where you kill your darlings and make a better book, while consuming lots of chocolate.
SCBWI – Acronym for the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators that was intentionally created to be difficult to say. It’s a test. Once you finally learn how to say SCBWI without flubbing it, they let you join. Once you join, you go to a conference. Once you go to conference, you are so awestruck and ecstatic at finally finding your tribe, you stop caring that you still can’t say SCBWI without thinking really hard first.
Tara Lazar – Author and founder of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month), the picture book writer’s answer to NaNoWriMo, responsible for approximately 43.556 % of the published picture books on the market today. (See also: totally made up but true-sounding statistics)
Ugly Draft – The first draft of a story. It is lumpy, unbalanced and in need of shaping, hence the term “ugly draft.” But with each round of revision, it gets prettier.
Visits – Presentations to students in grade schools, high schools and colleges that are at first terrifying and eventually lots of fun.
We Need Diverse Books – More than just a hashtag, it’s a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
X – Well, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t think of a children’s book term that starts with x. Instead, I offer you this: xanthippe, which means an ill-tempered woman. As in, “I become a xanthippe, when wrestling with a frustrating revision.”
YA – Abbreviation for Young Adult literature, or put another way… literature.
Zzzzzzz’s – The thing many authors and illustrators lack. (See also: Deadline and Revision)