J is for Jargon

J is for Jargon

Miranda Stone:

A hilarious and informative post by Alex Hurst about publishing world jargon.

Originally posted on Alex Hurst:


Are you ready to speak like a pro? The publishing world is full of jargon, and sometimes it’s hard to tell your slug from your synopsis! Today’s post is all about the wonderful (and terrible) jargon we use in this crazy industry. Kept short and sweet (and a bit satirical) for your enjoyment. Real definitions found in the links.

advance – (n) an increasingly rare artifact; a most preposterous leap-of-faith.

agent- (n) knight for hire. Known for extraordinarily discerning tastes in damsels, aka Novels.

alpha reader – (n) a masochist for editing.

antagonist- (n) the character everyone likes more than the protagonist.

ARC- (n) zero edition of a to-be-published book. Public beta test for typos.

archetype- (n) Carl Jung’s fancy name for a trope. Positive and posh sounding.

backlist – (n) No, really, I’m a writer. Look at all of this stuff I’ve written!


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We were led to chapel every Wednesday,
dressed to code in knee-length skirts.
Clutching bibles in our hands, we sat silent
and listened to dire warnings of the hellfire
awaiting us if we did not repent.

We were pliant as lambs, praying every day
and dutifully singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”
Teachers doled out slaps to my face and hands,
giving me hard shakes and insults as lessons.
They schooled me well in the art of hypocrisy.

While I memorized chapters of scripture,
self-righteousness bloomed in me like a virus.
I could use my tongue as a knife, slashing others
with my taunts as long as I fell to my knees
and asked God’s forgiveness at bedtime.

Each new day a chance to begin again,
washed clean in the blood of the savior.
But even as a child I required stronger proof
of my salvation than assurances from my elders.

Despite my ceaseless praying, I could never be sure
my fickle god would not demand more of me
than a place in my heart and unwavering loyalty.
I envied others around me, so certain of their spot
in heaven while I imagined the flames of hell.

Years later I escaped the stranglehold
of indoctrination, realizing no god listened
to my daily pleas for absolution or mercy.
Backslider that I am, I now breathe easy.