Publishing Acronyms

After being in an industry for a while there is a natural tendency to speak in code. Acronyms flow freely and can be a foreign language to those new to the conversation.

Below is an attempt to spell out some of the more common acronyms in the publishing industry and some specific to the Christian publishing industry. They are grouped by topic in a rudimentary way but in no particular order. If there is one I’ve missed or you have a correction, please add them to the comments below.

Impress your friends at your next party by confidently saying, “My WIP now has an ISBN, CIP, and a BOB. It will be published as a PB, HC, EPUB, and MOBI. The BCC is nearly complete and BHP has promised to create an ARC. They also promise to promote it at BEA, ICRS, ACFW, and RWA! You really should read my new SF/F!”

Book Related (Editing and Production lingo)

ARC – Advance Review Copy
P&L – Profit & Loss – The financial report created to determine if a proposed book will be profitable
D&A – Delivery and Acceptance – used in editorial to describe the two stages of a manuscript…delivered and later it is declared accepatable…which is when advance money is often paid.
PubCo – Publication Committee (aka Pub Board) – where the final decision is made on whether or not to offer a contract on a proposed book. I described that meeting in a previous post.)
PB – Paperback
HB or HC – Hardback or Hardcover
EBK – E-book
MM or MMP – Mass Market Paperback (4×6 trim size)
TP – Trade Paperback (5×8 trim size or larger)
DRM – Digital Rights Management
EPUB – Electronic Publication (a specific ebook format)
MOBI – MobiPocket Reader (Amazon Kindle’s specific ebook format)
PDF – Portable Document Format
BOB – Back-of-Book Ad
BCC – Back Cover Copy
ISBN – International Standard Book Number
ASIN – Amazon Standard Identification Number
CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (The four colors in a 4-color printing process. Read about it here)
CIP – Cataloging-in-Publication (a program from the Library of Congress to capture bibliographical data on titles not yet published. It helps libraries.)
ONIX – Online Information eXchange – The official term for the metadata information behind every book. Enables “if you bought this you’ll like this” type of experience online.
ASCII – American Standard Code for Information Interchange (curious how it is used? Read about it here)
LOL – What agents and editors did when reading my manuscript
NYP – Not Yet Published
POD – Print on Demand
WIP – Work in Progress
MS or MSS – Manuscript or Manuscripts (plural)
CMOS – Chicago Manual of Style (i.e. CMOS says…)
OP or OOP – Out of Print
CV – Curriculum Vitae (Refers to author’s publication history – some might call it your resume or your sales history…but CV is a shortcut)

Industry related

ABA – American Booksellers Association (now a term to indicate the General Market, as different from CBA. There also used to be an ABA booksellers convention but it was sold and became BEA)
ACFW – American Christian Fiction Writers (refers to both the organization and their convention)
ALA – American Library Associaton
AWSA – Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (refers to both the organization and their convention)
B&N – Barnes & Noble booksellers (Over 600 stores nationwide)
BAM – Books-a-Million bookstore chain (200 stores in the South, Midwest, and Northeast U.S.)
BEA – Book Expo America (the big general market convention)
BISG – Book Industry Study Group
CBA – Christian Booksellers Association (technically no longer stands for anything but the three letters. There used to be a CBA booksellers convention but they changed the name to ICRS.)
ECPA – Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
ICRS – International Christian Retail Show (Christian booksellers convention)
RWA – Romance Writers of America (refers to both the organization and their convention)
AYSR – Are You Still Reading this list? I’m impressed.
RT – Romantic Times (magazine and conference)

Publishers and Distributors

B&T – Baker & Taylor Distributors (primary serves the library, institution, and retail markets)
BHP – Bethany House Publishers
HC – HarperCollins (And for those of us with long memories…H&R = Harper & Row)
HCCP – HarperCollins Christian Publishing
IVP – InterVarsity Press
HH – Harvest House
NAV – NavPress
MLT – Multnomah
PRH – Penguin Random House
S&S – Simon & Schuster
SA – Spring Arbor distributors (now a division of Ingram, serves the Christian retail market)
STL – Send The Light distributors (serves the Christian retail market)
TN – Thomas Nelson (a division of HCCP)
TYN – Tyndale
ZON – Zondervan (a division of HCCP)


MG – Middle Grade (usually means 8-12 year old audience)
NA – New Adult (a new classification for 18-24 year old audience)
SF – Science Fiction
SF/F – Science Fiction and Fantasy
YA – Young Adult (usually means 13-18 year old audience)
$$ – Finance books… (just kidding!)


12 Responses to Publishing Acronyms

  1. Lisa Bogart February 22, 2016 at 6:19 am #

    Publishers aren’t the only ones with a lock on WIP. We knitters use it too. I have several fiber WIP waiting because I’m a busy author. Teehee.

  2. Sally Shupe February 22, 2016 at 7:25 am #

    AYSR and $$-love it! Thanks for the breakdown of what all these mean.

  3. Bill Hendricks February 22, 2016 at 7:30 am #

    Don’t forget. . .
    DFR: Destined for Remaindering
    NWP: Not Worth Publishing
    and my favorite: WWTPT: What Was This Person Thinking?!

  4. Katie Powner February 22, 2016 at 8:19 am #

    Here’s one for you: PCWW – playing it cool while waiting. 🙂

  5. Carol Ashby February 22, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    This is great, Steve! I’ve copied and squirreled it in a Word document where I can always find it. There was one error, however. Everyone knows that CMOS is actually short for the complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor technology that is the basis of silicon electronic circuits, like those in the Pentium CPU of your computer. Without CMOS, we’d probably still be writing manuscripts by hand or on a typewriter, where adding a line or changing a phrase is painful enough that I’d never want to do more than one edit on a first draft.

    And isn’t $$ the code for the most expensive restaurant that most of us should expect to patronize with our literary income? Good thing we’re in it for love, not money, and for the satisfaction of knowing we’re doing what we’re called to do.

  6. Karen Porter February 22, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Hi Steve,

    Great list. We’d like to use it in a writing class. I’ll email you separately to get your permission.

    I would like to add under publishers:

    BVB — Bold Vision Books

    Karen Porter
    Bold Vision Books

  7. Peggy Booher February 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    Thanks, Steve. Some of the acronyms I knew; others, when I read an article and saw them, I scratched my head and thought, “What’s that mean?” Thanks for clearing up my confusion.

  8. Iola February 22, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

    ROFL! Don’t forget the HEA or HFN (if you’re writing romance). And no TSTL heroes or heroines. I can’t afford to throw my Kindle at the wall.

  9. Marlene Anderson February 23, 2016 at 11:40 am #

    Thanks Steve – acronyms are not my favorite but a reality of today.

  10. Rachael Phillips February 24, 2016 at 9:52 am #

    What a helpful list for novice and seasoned writers alike! Thanks.

  11. Brennan S. McPherson February 25, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    Steve–maybe this is a silly question, but do you ever plan to do a blog detailing all the books your agency has represented in the last year, or the last six months? I’d definitely be interested in seeing that!

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