• Gina Denny

WTF Do All These Acronyms Stand For?

If you've spent any time at all on social media with publishing professionals, you've likely seen a slew of acronyms* and can't make heads or tails of them. This becomes even more difficult during pitch events or chat events, when responses or pitches need to be condensed to a single tweet/IG post (as opposed to a blog post or a thread that could use full words).

* they aren't all acronyms, since acronyms can be pronounced like a word (NASA is an acronym, CIA is an initialism)

** also some of them are just abbreviations and shorthand, not acronyms or initialisms at all

ARC - Advance Readers' Copy or Advance Reviewers' Copy; a proof of the book in it's almost-fully-edited form that is sent to reviewers prior to publication in order to generate reviews and publicity for the book

BEA - Book Expo America; a huge bookselling event that spun off into BookCon. During the pandemic, it was postponed and then ultimately cancelled and we are awaiting the next iteration of this enormous book marketing event.

Categories & Genres

PB - Picture Book; not a catch-all for any illustrated work, but specifically the children's books with picture dominating the pages

MG - Middle Grade; books marketed to tweens

YA - Young Adult; books marketed to teens (and their moms for some reason)

NA - New Adult; it may or may not be a thing, please don't argue with me, I'm just passing along information and these are books marketed to readers between 17 - 25, formerly known as "chick lit"

SFF - Science Fiction & Fantasy

IP - Intellectual Property; IP writers are writing stories about someone else's characters. If you write novelizations of Disney stories, you are writing Disney IP.


KDP - Kindle Direct Publishing; Amazon's self-publishing service.

KU - Kindle Unlimited; a program for self-publishing authors that requires certain exclusive rights to be granted to the Amazon Kindle program but rewards authors for those exclusive rights.

POD - Print on Demand; a method of publishing (usually self-publishing or vanity publishing) in which print books are only printed when someone orders a copy. It reduces surplus but expands printing costs.

The Actual Writing Process

NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month; for the month of November, writers all around the world try to write at least 50,000 words of new fiction. There is a robust community of supporters, cool merch, and a rich tradition of complaining on twitter about it (see also: JunoWriMo and Camp Nano)

JunoWriMo - Same as National Novel Writing Month but it's in June, when fewer people are hampered by the onset of the holiday season, particularly teachers who have a little more time in the summer

Camp Nano - National Novel Writing Month in April or July, with fewer rules on how many words you're supposed to write (don't worry, the rules aren't real and you can write whatever you want, whenever you want, you're doing great sweetie)

WIP - Work in Progress; the project you are currently working on.

MS - Manuscript; another term for the story you're working on

The People Who Help You

CP - Critique Partner; another writer who reads your work with a critical eye and offers useful feedback. If several of you pass your work back and forth, that's usually referred to as a critique group.

Beta - Beta Reader; readers who give constructive feedback, but are not necessarily writers themselves.

RWA - Romance Writers of America; a national organization that supports romance writers with conferences, writing groups, and sometimes legal issues

SFWA - Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; like RWA but for science fiction and fantasy writers

SCBWI - Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators; like RWA and SWFA for children's book creators, including board books, picture books, emerging readers, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult books.

Querying & Pitching

Big 5 - The five largest publishing houses in American publishing; Penguin-RandomHouse (PRH), Hachette, Macmillan, Harper Collins (HC), Simon and Schuster (S&S). Each of these houses has dozens of imprints that focus on certain genres or age categories. These are by no means the only large-scale publishers (Scholastic and Harlequin both come to mind)

CNR - Closed No Response; some agents or editors have a "no response means no" policy. This means that if you don't hear from them within a specified period of time (it will be listed on their website), then you can assume they will not be reaching out. This means they do not send form rejections. CNR is used on query tracking sites for writers to note that they have closed the query out, assumed it's a 'no', and moved on.

R&R - Revise & Resubmit; a request from an agent or editor who sees promise in the work you've submitted, but they aren't totally sure about it for any number of reasons. They are asking you to revise the work in a significant way and then resubmit it for consideration. It is not a promise of representation nor of a contract. If an agent or editor mentions specific things they didn't connect with in your work, it is not a revise and resubmit request. It's just constructive feedback, and it's a sign you're getting closer to that "yes" you're looking for.

MSWL - Manuscript Wish List; a list made by agents and editors of a few things they are specifically looking for in their slush pile. Some agents get super specific about tropes or themes or vibes in the book, others are more general and only mention genres. They are updated often, so make sure you're looking at the most recent information you can get your hands on.

Slush - Not an acronym or abbreviation, but a term for an agent or editor's inbox where they find new clients. Some people hate the term "slush" but it's been around for a long time and it's not likely to go anywhere now.

PitchWars - An online pitching contest in which published and agented writers help unagented and unpublished writers revise their pitch packages (loglines, query letters, and opening pages; sometimes mentors take on the entire manuscript, if they have time) and put on a showcase for agents and editors. Over the years, this event has helped dozens and dozens of writers build bigger networks and get agented (My first agent found me through PitchWars 2014)

PitMad - Pitch Madness; a pitching event on twitter that happens apparently eighty-four times a year, drowning out everything else happening on twitter that day. If an agent likes your pitch, you get to skip the slush pile a little bit, though, and it's a fun way to meet other writers who are in the query trenches for you (see also: sffpit, pitdark, pbpit, revpit, dvpit, iwsgpit, faithpit, apipit, pitchdis, latinxpit)

SFFPit - Pitch Madness for science fiction and fantasy writers

PitDark - Pitch Madness for "dark" stories (horror, dark/grim fantasy, etc)

PBPit - Pitch Madness for Picture Books

RevPit - Pitch Madness with a revision angle to it

DVPit - Pitch Madness for writers of historically marginalized backgrounds

IWSGPit - Pitch Madness sponsored by Insecure Writers' Support Group

FaithPit - Pitch Madness for stories with a religious angle to them

APIPit - Pitch Madness for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

PitchDis - Pitch Madness for disabled writers

LatinxPit - Pitch Madness for Latinx writers

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