Key Terms for Authors

Editors and agents expect you to speak their language.

If you aspire to publish a novel or nonfiction book, you’ll find these terms useful at writers conferences as you prepare to meet with agents and editors.

Elevator speech. A one-minute presentation to prompt an editor or agent to want to learn more about your proposed book. Suppose while you’re on an elevator, an editor from your favorite publisher enters and asks, “What are you working on?” You have until the elevator reaches the editor’s floor …

One-sheet. Another sales tool to attract interest in your project. Printed on just one side — often in full-color with an attractive graphic design — the document highlights key points about your proposed book, its intended readers, and you as its author.

Audience. The people most likely to buy your book. Never “everyone” or “all Christians,” or “all Christian women.” Identify the defining traits of this group ― especially key needs your nonfiction book targets and their motivations to have that need met. For fiction, what types of novels do your readers enjoy? What interests do they have that a publisher can use to market your book to them?

Platform. Your background that qualifies you to be recognized by readers as an authority on your book’s topic — and that enables you to promote it effectively. Be prepared to show how you’re already reaching your target audience through various social media.

Proposal. A marriage proposal simply asks, “Will you marry me?” A book proposal painstakingly builds a case to convince not only editors, but also a publisher’s marketing and accounting experts that yours is a book that will sell enough copies to earn a profit. Often 25 to 50 pages long, a proposal explains the need for your book, similar books on the market, your primary readers, how to reach them, and why you’re uniquely qualified to write the book and are prepared to promote it. Along with three sample chapters, a nonfiction proposal includes an annotated table of contents; a fiction proposal includes a synopsis.

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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