MJ Rose’s Backstory: Tracy Marchini

I would love to say that the idea for Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Publishing Terms came to me as I was browsing dictionaries in a library in Rome, or speaking about book publishing with my favorite author in a French café. But actually, the idea came to me while I sat on a hard plastic chair and flipped through a magazine in the waiting room of a car shop.

Truly, a less glamorous experience than the two previous.

But as I was flipping through the magazine, I started thinking about how my previous work at a literary agency affects me both as a writer and editorial consultant. I thought about what I might have to offer that might be unique to myself or someone in my position. And it occurred to me that there really is a publishing lexicon that you only learn through being a part of the industry in some way. In creating a dictionary of publishing terms, I thought that I could help illuminate some of the aspects of the publishing business that an aspiring or established writer might not be privy to.

I didn’t have scraps of paper with me, but I also like to email myself when I have an idea. So I pulled out my smartphone and started emailing and responding to myself as the idea for Pub Speak filled out.

I was interrupted by the repairman, who had something to show me. So I went back to the workroom, looked at my car on the lift and nodded as if I knew perfectly well what a tie rod was and why it would need to be replaced.

When I got home, I immediately went to my computer and searched Amazon for a dictionary of publishing terms. There was nothing.

If I was still sitting at the agency, I would wonder why there was nothing that came up. Is this because there’s a lack of interest in the marketplace? An idea for a very small niche market? Are there not enough publishing terms to make a book?

But I was in my living room, so I started writing down terms as they came to me—contract terms, book production terms, industry trade shows, author organizations, narrative constructs. By the time the manuscript was finished, I had over 400 publishing terms defined. I was surprised myself by the number of terms, and I’m sure that as the industry evolves they’ll be even more to define in a future edition.

Ultimately, I hope the book is as useful and informative for writers as it can possibly be. And I hope I don’t need to replace another tie rod to find my next idea!

(Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Publishing Terms is available as an ebook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other ebook retailers. You can find out more about Tracy Marchini at www.tracymarchini.com or on Twitter at @TracyMarchini.)

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2 Comments to MJ Rose’s Backstory: Tracy Marchini

  1. April 6, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Tracy, I think your book on publishing terms is well needed. New writers (like me) will gain so much from it. It’s a scary time right now for writers. The more info we have the better.

    Best,
    Sherry/treehugger-peninhand.blogspot.com

  2. April 6, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks Sherry, I completely agree! With the publishing world changing so rapidly, it’s the best informed authors that will come out ahead.

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