Self Publishing Glossary of Terms

Are you an an author planning to self publish?

Does some of the jargon associated with self publishing confuse you?

For example:

What does going ‘wide’ mean?

What is an ARC?

How is a hybrid author different from an indie author?

The answers to these questions will become clear within this self publishing glossary of terms!

Self Publishing Glossary of Terms

Here is a list of common self publishing terms, and their definitions, in alphabetical order:


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 it is published.

Back matter

Indie authors (see below) have full control of what goes on the pages of their book before and after their story. What they choose to include after ‘The End’ is known as back matter. Back matter could consist of author acknowledgements, a list of other titles, or the first chapter of the next book in a series – it is completely up to them!

Beta readers

Beta readers are usually unbiased readers who read books before they are published. Betas feedback any problems they may encounter, such as typos or 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 aren’t 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 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.

Blog tour

A blog tour is when an author arranges a collection of book bloggers to read their books and then feature them in their blogs. It is important to ensure a good match between the book bloggers and the book’s particular genre, to minimise any potential problems. There are also blog tour organisers, already connected to a network of book bloggers, who act as middlemen (or women) to arrange blog tours for authors. This can take a lot of the stress out of the whole process. Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side is a blog tour organiser, recently recommended on indie author Paul Teague‘s podcast.


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


An eBook is a digital version of a book.

Front matter

As above with back matter, what an indie author chooses to put on the first few pages of their self published book is up to them. Front matter may include copyright and dedication pages, or even a famous (correctly referenced) quote.


A hybrid author is an author who chooses to self publish their books as well as sign a traditional publishing deal. Some authors have been traditionally published then, for whatever reason, decide to cross over to self publishing. 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 Hawker and Chris Simms.

Indie author

An indie author is an author who chooses to independently self publish their books as opposed to following a traditional publishing route.


Next in this self publishing glossary of terms 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).


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, allows readers to borrow the book within their monthly subscription fee. Indie authors then earn money through how many total pages their readers read (minus Amazon’s royalty fee).


This acronym means 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 eBooks, you can still sell your print books wide (see below).


Not to be confused with a blurb, a synopsis is an outline of everything that happens in a book. Traditional publishers will often require a synopsis, along with the first three chapter of a novel, when an author submits their book to be considered for a traditional publishing deal. However, indie authors may find writing a synopsis really helps clarify their 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.


Going wide means making your digital and/or print book available to buy from a range of online stores, not just Amazon. Some authors prefer going wide as it means they are not reliant 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.

I really hope this self publishing glossary of terms has been helpful to you as an indie author. If it has, please let me know!

A-Z of Storytelling Techniques for Authors

A-Z of Storytelling Techniques for Authors is available to buy or borrow now! Get it here.

If you have found this blog useful, you may also like these other author related blogs:

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Manuscript

How to easily write a nonfiction synopsis

5 easy ways to make your first novel better!

5 great podcasts for self publishing authors

How to deconstruct a novel to write your own

How to create a social media content series and turn it into an eBook

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