The Basics: A glossary of terms fore beginners


  • Manuscript - Often referred to as ms/MS. This is how your unpublished bok is referred to in the biz ;). *Note your manuscript must be properly formatted. Google standard manuscript formatting. Typically, double spacing, Times New Roman (don’t mess around with fonts), size 12 with your surname and name of the book in the header. Also, page numbers and a cover page with your name, contact and the title of the story.

  • Literary Agent - An agent is someone who sells manuscripts to publishing houses. Most large Publishing Houses only accept submissions through agents.

  • Query Letter - A short letter (300 words or so) giving a brief description of your manuscript, including the ‘hook’, (what makes it so interesting), genre and target age group and yourself. So, you ‘query’ a Literary Agent. I’m not sure I ever got the hang of these. I recommend using the Resources provided on pitchwars.org.

  • Form Rejection:

  • Synopsis: A summary of the basic plot points of your story, including the ending. Usually one page, single spacing.

  • Pitch: A sentence or two to describe your book and garner interest. For example:

  • THE CALL - When an agent wants to offer representation they will usually email you and ask to arrange a time for a call to discuss your manuscript and next steps.

  • Submission - i.e going on submission. This is when your agent sends your work to publishers.

  • Protagonist - The main character of your book, also referred to as MC/mc.

  • Antagonist - The character who is working against your protagonist.

  • Character Arc - the journey a character goes through during the story, what they learn and how they change.


And always remember, google is your friend. There’s also a lot of great information and advice on YouTube.

The Process:

  1. Write your book (will most likely take several months).

  2. Read and edit it several times (this version is referred to as a polished manuscript).

  3. Find agents looking for the genre and age category you’ve written and query them (this process will also take months and months.)

  4. Agent requests your full manuscript and loves it and wants to arrange a time for THE CALL.

If all goes well:

  1. Agent offers representation and you accept.

  2. You work on the manuscript together or skip and go on submission. (This could take several months)

  3. The Publishers love it and offer you lots of money! Yay!!