Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Karen asked in a comment for a definition of some of the words we editors throw around. I'll attempt a short list here today. If you have other words that come to mind, send them to me and I'll try to define them.

Author-driven: This describes the driving force behind the sales and marketing of a book. If a book is author-driven, then the author's name and reputation is the main reason that readers will buy the book. For example, any book written nowadays by Karen Kingsbury would be considered author-driven. Most readers don't care about the topic or the price, as they'll buy the book just because Karen wrote it. Karen has built a strong reader following and has developed a good reputation of delivering an enjoyable read.

Likewise, a book could be content-driven. A reader will buy it just for the content he or she is looking for. An example would be someone looking for a Bible study on Romans. The reader is less concerned with author and price as long as it is a solid study on their choice topic.

Then there is price-driven. These are books that are specially placed in promotional areas of stores and stickered with a value price. The price is the first thing that draws a shopper's attention. (Think of a sales table in the entryway of a Borders.) If the topic is also attractive, then a price-driven book is often added onto a shopper's purchase, driving store revenues up.

Key account customer: This is a term often used by Sales departments when referring to different types of customers who buy books from a publisher. Key account customers are the buyers who order in large quantity, usually for a large store like CBD or a chain of stores like Family, Borders, B&N, Costco, Sam's, Wal-Mart, etc. Since they take large quantities, their opinion about our books holds more weight than others' opinions may. We have been known to change a book cover if a couple key account customers tell us it would sell better if changed.

Frontlist/backlist: What do all the lists mean? When we say a book is frontlist, then it is a new release that is receiving the focus of our sales and marketing energies. It gets a large display in our catalog and on our web site. Backlist titles are the books that have been out for a while but still have sales momentum (stores continue to place orders for them). They still receive a small catalog placement and are kept in stock for stores to order. Generally speaking, they no longer will receive a big sales/marketing push. Another list would be the S list -- those books scheduled to go out of print. These are titles we will attempt to sell remaining stock but don't have plans to print more. OP (out of print) titles have been removed from the catalog, and there are no copies available for sale.

PRF date: Printer Ready Files date or deadline. This is the time we are to turn over our electronic files of both the book text and cover to the printer.

Bluelines: This is the very last stage of proof check for a book. Bluelines are the print-ready pages that come after the printer has set up the book for running on the printer. This is the last opportunity we have to catch changes. Since the printer has to make the change, we are charged for each change made at this stage. Years ago, these proofs used to be mailed to us in a stack of specially coated pages printed in a stinky blue ink. Now we often get the blueline proofs in a PDF to check electronically.

I hope you find these definitions helpful.


Mary Connealy said...

these are interested. The only problem with asking you to do more is I haven't ever heard of these so who knows what all else is out there.
I attended a workshop at the ACFW conference given by Deeanne Gist and she just talked nuts and bolts about what happens after the contract is signed...and I mean real nuts and bolts, how editors worked, choosing a cover, she had pictures of the printing press they used and every step of the printing process.
It was really interesting.

Pam Hillman said...

Like Mary, most of these are new terms for me.

I especially like the fact that Barbour sells all backlist copies before declaring a book OP.

Does this mean there aren't any stripped books? Shudder.

Uh...come to think of it, you might have to explain what a stripped book is! lol

Annette M. Irby said...

I've always wondered what backlist and frontlist are. Thanks, Becky, for running through all these terms for us.


Karen said...

I'm chiming in a little late. We have been touring Asia for almost 4weeks and I'm still catching up. Maybe once in a while you could throw out a few more terms and define them. These were great. Thanks, Becky!