10 Self Publishing Terms All Indie Authors Need to Know

By Claire Jennison

Are you an author planning to self publish? Does some self publishing jargon confuse you? Does it feel like other indie authors know things you don’t? For example:

  • What is an ARC?
  • What does going “wide” mean?
  • How is a hybrid author different from an indie author?

This blog answers these questions, and more. Here are 10 self-publishing terms all indie authors need to know.

1. ARC

The acronym ARC stands for advanced reader copy. This is exactly what its name implies: a copy of a book that is sent out to selected readers before publication. Often ARCs are sent as part of a blog tour (see below) in anticipation of early publicity and/or reviews. Some authors also have, or intentionally form, an ARC team. An ARC team is a group of dedicated readers (often from an author’s email list) who act as regular beta readers (see below) to catch any glaring issues within the book before publication.

2. Beta readers

Beta readers are usually unbiased readers who read books before they are published. Betas return feedback regarding any problems they may encounter, such as typos, glaring plot holes, etc., in much the same way as an ARC team. However, betas may read much earlier/rougher drafts than ARC readers, or read books as part of a one-off, informal arrangement. As betas usually aren’t as invested in the author, their feedback can be brutally honest, which some authors may prefer.

Impartial beta readers can be found using dedicated Facebook groups or the hashtag #betareaderswanted on Twitter. Some beta readers read books for free, or in exchange for their own books being read. Other beta readers may charge a fee for their time and feedback.

3. Blog tour

A blog tour is when an author arranges a collection of book bloggers to read their book and then feature it in their blogs. It is important to ensure a good match between the book bloggers and the book’s particular genre to minimize any potential problems (and possibly negative reviews). Blog tour organizers, already connected to a network of book bloggers, act as middlemen (or women) to arrange blog tours for authors. That service can take a lot of the stress out of the whole process. Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side is a blog tour organizer, as are Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and Emma at Damp Pebbles Blog Tours.

4. Blurb

The blurb is the sales copy or book description on the back cover of a book. This works in conjunction with the front cover to entice the reader to buy (or borrow) the book, so it’s important to get it right! Bryan Cohen is a blurb magician and his webinar “How to Write Better Book Descriptions to Sell More Books,” in conjunction with Reedsy, is a really helpful resource for perfecting blurbs.

5. Hybrid

A hybrid author is an author who chooses to self-publish their books as well as write while tied into a traditional publishing deal. Some authors have been traditionally published, then decide to cross over to self-publishing (often to retain full rights to their books, as well as enjoy a much higher percentage of the royalties). Other indie authors become so successful in their own right they are approached by publishers directly. Examples of hybrid authors include Sarah Painter (The Worried Writer)Libby HawkerMark Edwards, and Chris Simms.

6. KDP

Next in 10 self-publishing terms all indie authors need to know, is another acronym: KDP. This stands for Kindle Direct Publishing which is Amazon’s book publishing platform. Authors can choose to publish exclusively through Amazon or go wide (see below).

7. KU

KU stands for Kindle Unlimited which is Amazon’s book and audiobook subscription service. Indie authors choosing to make their book available exclusively through KDP Select allow subscribed readers to borrow the book. Indie authors then earn money through the number of total pages their readers read (minus Amazon’s commission).

8. POD

POD stands for print on demand. Once an indie author has uploaded their formatted print book file onto KDP or any POD service, however many books are ordered is exactly how many will be printed. The benefit of this is that stocks of printed books don’t need to be stored anywhere. Even if you are exclusive to KDP Select for your e-books, you can still sell your print books wide (see below). ​

9. Synopsis

Not to be confused with a blurb, a synopsis is a summary of everything that happens in a book without any descriptive embellishment. Traditional publishers often require a synopsis, along with the first three chapters or 50 pages of a novel, when an author submits their manuscript to be considered for a traditional publishing deal. However, indie authors may find writing a synopsis helps clarify the storyline either before or during penning their book. Another of Reedsy’s recent webinars “How to Structure a Novel Before You Write it” advocates this. ​

10. Wide

Going “wide” means making your digital and/or print book available for purchase from a range of online stores, not just Amazon. Some authors prefer going wide as it means they need not rely on Amazon for all their book sales. Again, it is the indie author’s choice. Indie author Joanna Penn outlines the pros and cons of this choice on her “Exclusivity vs Publishing Wide” podcast episode.

​If you have found these 10 self-publishing terms all indie authors need to know useful, check out my related blogs at https://penningandplanning.com/blog/.

Are you an author who wants to use storytelling techniques more creatively in your writing?Do you want to bring your fiction or nonfiction writing to life using memorable metaphors or imaginative wordplay?Do you dream of penning a kairotic or bildungsroman novel, or creating new neologisms that your readers will love?If so, A-Z of Storytelling Techniques for Authors can help!This bumper digital resource features FIFTY devices for authors to use in their writing, to help make it even better. It includes lots of classic, contemporary and original examples to help understand the techniques more in context, as well as hyperlinks to further examples/online resources.

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