Book ABCs: Decoding the Confusing World of Book Acronyms

How many times have you seen an acronym without context and thought, “Um, what?”

Or how often do you see a too-long string of letters, and later learn that they’re associated with an oh-so-simple concept?

The trouble with acronyms is that without translation, they’re just jibberish to an industry newbie–and rarely self-explanatory.

The publishing world comes with its own set of acronyms.

The marketing world comes with its own set of acronyms.

So when you combine the book world with the marketing world, you get a huge basket of jumbled-up letters with no meaning. This means trouble for a first-time author.

Industry clarity is key to an author’s success. Click To Tweet

Because industry clarity is key to an author’s success, I’m listing below some of the most common acronyms used in book marketing, along with a brief explanation of each.

ARC – Advanced Reader Copy
Also known as a galley, this is an early printed version of the book. It’s usually created with a rough version of the manuscript and is used for getting endorsements and to pitch long-lead media.

CPC – Cost Per Click or Cost Per Conversion
In the world of digital advertising, this is the metric of success. How much does it cost to get someone to click on your ad? Or better yet, how much does it cost to convert someone (get them to take the action your ad requests)?

SEO – Search Engine Optimization
A system of strategies to get more traffic to your website by earning it higher placement in the search results page of a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo.

BCC – Back Cover Copy
The body of copy on the back of your book. For awesome BCC tips, check out this blog.

WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?
You see this question often among copywriters and those of us who think about strategic marketing messaging. Always keep your target audience in mind and remember that they’ll always read your copy with “WIIFM?” (subconsciously) in mind.

CTA – Call To Action
These are the explicit words that state the action you want the potential consumer to take. Examples: “Buy now” or “Learn more” or “Pre-order today.” Be sure your CTA words are linked to a quick, easy, one-click action.

ROI – Return On Investment
The measure of what you earn off of what you invested. Strong ROI means that for every dollar put in, you get a hefty return back.

ISBN – International Standard Book Number
A 10- or 13-digit number that uniquely identifies a book or book-related product internationally. Each edition and title has a different number.

ONIX – Online Information Exchange
The information feed through which all book metadata (author, publisher, price, pub date, description, etc.) passes from a publisher/creator into the information centers of third-party retailers and other relevant data aggregators.

POD – Print On Demand
A printing technology that allows small numbers of books to be printed at once, allowing books to not be printed until orders are received. After the initial large print run, books are often POD later in their lives.

BISAC – Book Industry Standards and Communication
BISAC codes are industry-approved topical descriptors. Each book is assigned a set of 3-4 descriptors, and those codes influence their placement within bookstores and also on online retailers. Examples: REL006220 RELIGION / Biblical Studies / New Testament or FAM034000 FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Parenting / General.

I’d love to hear from you! What is an acronym in the book marketing world that you’ve heard recently and been confused by? Comment below or tweet me up @ccannon.