A tongue-in-cheek glossary from U.K. editors, publishers, authors and agents
By Janice Harayda
The British have a gift for coded speech. Like Southerners who say “Bless your heart” when they mean the opposite, they salt their conversations with euphemisms that only the most credulous tourist would take at face value.
The U.K. publishing industry has its own subset of words and phrases that deflect embarrassing or inconvenient realities. A few appeared in my American-accented “40 Publishing Buzzwords, Clichés and Euphemisms Decoded” and “More Publishing Buzzwords,” which gathered highlights from witty translations submitted at the Twitter hashtag #pubcode last year. Other examples of the British talent for indirection surfaced yesterday in a new wave of definitions at #publishingeuphemisms. Here are some of the best of those late arrivals (a list that excludes a few tweets that gave off an intentional or unintentional whiff of those posted in 2011), followed by the decoder’s name.
“ahead of its time”: “It bombed” Julie Bertagna, author of Exodus and other young-adult novels
“All our focus is on the paperback”: “The hardback tanked” Jonny Geller, literary agent
“eminently marketable”: “This author looks fit” Catherine Fox, author of Angels and Men, Scenes From Vicarage Life and other books
“an exciting new children’s author”: “edited to within an inch of its life so no parents can possibly be offended” Iain Paton, writer
“for fans of [insert bestselling author name]”: “Normally eat smoked salmon? Try some tinned” Rhian Davies, judge for CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.
“has worked as a gravedigger, ambulance driver, and llama-shearer”: “had a gap year” Christopher Wakling, author of The Devil’s Mask and other novels
“Here are all my corrections!”: ”(Except all the ones I’m going to email you everyday until sign off date.)” Cathy Hurren, production editor and MA student
“I’m hard at work”: “I’m on Twitter” David Hebblethwaite, critic and blogger
“’I'm under such pressure for space”: “It didn’t deserve a review on my page” MaryB (@marysbookstuff on Twitter), “many hats.”
“in their own words”: “in the ghostwriter’s words” Iain Paton, writer
“Just a couple of tiny changes needed”: “I’m about to send you 27 pages of edits.” Jill Mansell, author of A Walk in the Park and other novels
‘”literary-commercial cross-over”: “Has a plot but not too many adverbs” Nina Bell, author of Lovers and Liars and other novels
“The manuscript is nearly finished”: “I’m up to chapter 3” Karen Wheeler, former fashion editor of a British newspaper and the author of Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France and other books.
“The new Tom Clancy”: “Jane’s Military technical specifications with occasional action” Iain Paton, writer
“No woman has nipples like strawberries: “I don’t get out much” Martin Pilcher (Igor Zap), writer
“The novel never quite reached the huge potential of its promise”: “Your pitch letter was better than the book” Jonny Geller, literary agent
“Sorry but our list is currently closed”: “We are too busy chasing celebrity deals to bother with hoi-polloi” Carole Matthews, author of Wrapped Up in You and other books
“There is such excitement in-house”: “My assistant loved it” Jonny Geller
“This novel really challenges convention”: “including spelling and basic grammar” Phoenix Yard Books, an independent children’s publisher
“This doesn’t fit in my current list”: “The restraining order is in the post” Cath Bore, writer
“We’re not sure a head shot will work on the jacket”: “Look in a mirror” Christopher Wakling , novelist
“We’ve changed the pub date to give the book the best exposure”: “We’ve f*cked up the schedule.” Jane Judd, literary agent
“You seem to have fallen through the net”: “We don’t send cheques unless we’re forced to.” Rosy Cole, author of The Wolf and the Lamb
“Your novel isn’t right for us at this time” = “or any time luv” Cath Bore
Janice Harayda has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer, and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle. One-Minute Book Reviews is ranked one of the top 40 book blogs by Technorati and top 40 book-review blogs by Alexa Internet was named one of New Jersey’s best blogs by New Jersey Monthly.
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