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Mother Hen's Bin October 2008

Know the Lingo

By Lea Schizas


There is nothing more confusing to a writer than reading guidelines and not understanding some of the lingo. Although some of the definitions below are self-explanatory, I’ve included them for clarity to those who weren’t sure.


All rights – this means you give up the rights to that article to the buying editor.



An Article – this is usually a nonfiction piece of writing on any topic – like this article you are reading.


Bio – it’s not biosphere or biology but your very short biography (write up) as a writer. Check out my biography found at the end of this article to get an idea.


Clip – this is simply samples of work published in print – newspapers, magazines.


Deadline – self-explanatory: the date you must hand in your writing assignment.


Editorial Calendar – many magazines and online ezines set certain themes/topics they request for the whole year. It gives you a heads up what to write on.


Filler – not filler up but 1 – 3 paragraphs of writings that venues use to fill in their space. Take a look at Reader’s Digest to get an idea: humor, jokes, etc.


First rights – not to your first born, but first rights given to a magazine to publish your piece exclusively. In other words, they will be the first ones to showcase it for a specified time as agreed upon.


Guidelines – that all important page where editors tell you exactly what they’re seeking, how to format, where to send, and to whom. Sway from these guidelines and you risk rejection.


Hook – a hook is the opening statement in an article or the beginning of your story, the part that hooks your reader to want to continue the read.


Kill Fee – this is not an actual mobster fee but a fee offered by some magazines when your article has been accepted but for some reason never gets published.


Masthead – although it sounds like something belonging on a ship, it’s not. A masthead is where the names of the editors, writers, cover artists, etc. are found in the beginning of any magazine/ezine.


MS – simply put: manuscript. If you see MSS: manuscripts


Multiple Submissions – this is when you send more than one article/story to the same editor. Read their guidelines carefully because many frown on this.


On Spec – when first starting off writing articles, many editors might want to see you work (on speculation) and judge whether or not to use it.


Pays on acceptance – something a writer loves to hear. This means as soon as an editor agrees to accept your work, you will get paid once the contract is send, signed, and delivered back to them.


Pays on publication – better than nothing but pays on acceptance is always best. This means payment will be issued once your article has been published.


Query – the dreaded part for most writers. Think of the query as your sales pitch to get an editor/agent interested in seeing your work.


Reprints – self-explanatory. Reprints are articles that have previously been published. There are some magazines and ezines that accept reprints for lesser pay.


Second rights – articles that have previously been published and the first right time frame has elapsed, can now be offered to others as reprints.


Sidebar – these are either graphs, charts, or/and informational boxes you see on the side of an article. They are like ‘sidekicks’ to support the basic article.


Simultaneous Submission – this is something many editors frown on so please make sure to check their guidelines. This is when you send one work to several editors at the same time.


Now that you know the lingo, get writing.