Tracy Marchini – Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Publishing Terms

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My debut ebook is called Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Publishing Terms, and it’s a reference book for aspiring and established writers. The terms that are defined range from ebook terms to contract terms, book awards to trade organizations. Even though it’s a dictionary, I think there’s enough information in the book that you can read it all the way through and come away with a deeper understanding of the industry. (Also, because it’s an ebook, nobody on the train will know that you’re reading a dictionary!)

Tell us something about yourself.

I worked for a literary agency for four years before I left to form my own editorial consulting company. I’ve also worked as a book reviewer and newspaper correspondent, and have freelanced as everything from a copywriter to a script proofreader. But I’ve always loved books.

When I was a second grader, I got in trouble for writing a book report on a book I had written myself. (Personally, I think double the work should have meant extra credit!) But at the time, I actually thought I was going to become a journalist. I remember watching Barbara Walters on 20/20 when I was a bit older and thinking she was amazing. (You’ll notice I was a bit of a nerdy child.)

I graduated college with a degree in English and a minor in Rhetoric, which was Binghamton University’s journalism equivalent. But at one point I was writing for a paper and interning at a literary agency, and I realized that as much as I enjoyed journalism, I didn’t quite have the same passion for it as I’ve always had for books.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was sitting at a car shop, reading a magazine and dreading the results of my car’s inspection, when I started to think about what I could provide to my blog readers that perhaps someone else couldn’t. I came up with the dictionary and then I went back and forth with the best format for the book. At first, I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough terms to make a book-length product, but over the course of the several weeks I found myself rushing to write a term on a slip of paper before I forgot it or adding terms in the margins of the work in progress. One term would remind me of another, and so on. I’m also a big fan of emailing myself things, so in the beginning the project was a bunch of emails from me, to me with excited notes and lots of exclamation points!

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I think I’m still learning about the process as I do this. I’ve certainly watched the evolution of ebooks and digital publishing while at the agency, and discussed with authors, editors and others the pros and cons of a traditional publisher versus print on demand or self-publishing. But I wanted the experience of producing a book myself, and this seemed like the perfect idea for it. It’s a niche book, it’s mighty but small (400 terms, but not quite large enough for a hardcover yet), and I’m familiar with the book’s audience. I think in the future, we’re going to see a lot of authors that are both self-published and traditionally published, depending on what’s best for that particular project.

I think traditional publishers will certainly survive alongside print on demand and digital publishing technology. Traditional publishers still have a large advantage when it comes to distribution. I have a friend who publishes a magazine, and her distributor takes about 50% of the profit. This could easily price smaller and non-traditional publishers out of the marketplace. Also, though print-on-demand might not have an upfront cost for the manufacturing of a book, one could still find that it’s not an attractive option once you see what you would have to sell a book for in order to make a decent royalty. (This is why you’ll see $25 trade paperbacks on POD sites. The base cost per book is much higher than buying a small print run up front.)

But I think I’m still at the beginning of the learning process, I think we’ll have to see how the book does before I know if I’ve made the right decision for sure!

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

The best advice I could give other writers is to learn as much as you possibly can about the business, and then, once you know all the rules, you’ve perfected your craft and have proven that you can do it well – don’t be afraid to break some rules.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

I blog at and tweet at You can also find out more about PUB SPEAK on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.