Authors tell you what inspired their work

Tracy Marchini, Author of "Pub Speak"

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 or on Twitter at @TracyMarchini.

Backstories, where authors share the secrets, the truths, or just the illogical moments that sparked their fiction, come to us courtesy of author M.J. Rose and the Open Letters Monthly blog Like Fire.

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