Today we’re talking about acronyms and short forms in the book world. Do you ever look at bookish posts and everything sort of looks like keysmash gibberish to you? Fear not. I’m going to lead you through this linguistic maze so you never have to wonder what they mean again. There are a LOT of these to get through, so I’ll have to cover them in two episodes.
I’ve broken down the terms into some general categories so we can stay organized, and I hope that by the end of this episode you can navigate book requests, blog posts, and bookish discussions with ease.
Let’s start with the most general acronyms and short forms you’re likely to encounter.
TBR – To Be Read. This is people’s list of books they’re intending to read, but haven’t yet done so.
TBW – To Be Written. This is the list of stories or posts authors and bloggers are intending to write.
TBB – To Be Bought. This is a list of books people are intending to purchase, and may or may not be intending to read, since book reading and book buying are two separate hobbies.
Rec – This is short for book recommendation, where people are requesting stories with certain plots, tropes, etc.
DNF – Did Not Finish. A book that you set aside without completing. People DNF for a variety of reasons from personal taste, to encountering triggers, etc.
ARC – Advanced Reader Copy. These are early copies authors provide of their books for readers and reviewers so that they can get reviews and buzz before the book comes out.
TW or CW – Trigger Warning or Content Warning. This is a list of potentially upsetting content within the story so that readers can decide if the story is right for them.
No Triggers – If someone puts this on a book request post it means that you can recommend anything, regardless of how dark the content might be.
ISO – In Search Of. I don’t think this one needs extra explanation. It tends to appear at the beginning of book requests to inform people of what they’re looking for.
DISO – Desperately In Search Of. Like ISO, but they’re extra excited about it or have had difficulty finding what they’re looking for.
Unicorn – This one usually comes in the form of the unicorn emoji and is a reference to the asker’s white whale of requests. This is usually for things like rare or out of print editions.
OOP – Out of Print. This usually shows up in unicorn request posts.
POV – Point of View. POVs come in single, dual, and multiple. This also takes into account whether the story is told in first person, which uses “I”, “me”, “my”, and “we” pronouns, second person, which uses “you” and “your”, and third person, which uses “she”, “he”, “they”, “it”, and neopronouns. Third person POV comes in three versions: omniscient, limited, and objective. Omniscient is told from the point of view of a narrator that has access to the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters in the story. Limited focuses onto the point of view of a single character instead of many. And objective is from the point of view of an outsider who makes observations without giving access to the internal thoughts and feelings of the characters.
TIA – Thank You In Advance. This is usually tacked onto the end of book requests.
IYKYK – If You Know You Know. This is usually used to reference things for inside jokes or other folks who have experience with whatever they’re talking about.
Backlist or Back Catalogue – This is all of the books ever published by an author.
Haul – This is the end result of a shopping spree. It can refer to multiple things, but in the case of books it’s usually people showing off a stack of books they’ve recently purchased.
Ship – A ship refers to characters you’d like to be in a romantic or sexual relationship.
Trope – A trope is anything that shows up in media on a recurring basis. In some cases it refers specifically to things people feel are overused. Things like billionaires, single mothers, enemies to lovers, etc. are all tropes.
Dual narration vs Duet narration – This is referring to audio books. Dual narration is where a male narrator reads all the chapters from the male perspective and does all of the voices within those chapters, and a female narrator would read all of the chapters from a female perspective and do all the voices within those chapters. With a duet narration the male narrator would voice all of the male characters and the female narrator would voice all of the female characters regardless of which chapter they’re in. Not all audiobooks have multiple narrators, but for people who listen to them, some have a preference for specific narrator styles.
WIP – Work in Progress. This can apply to a lot of things such as art pieces, projects, etc., but in terms of books we’re talking about books that authors are in the process of writing.
Now let’s move on to acronyms and short forms in reference to the characters. I have not yet seen versions of these to accommodate characters that might be nonbinary or intersex, so unfortunately some of these are referring exclusively to male and female characters.
MC – Main Character. This is the lead in the story.
FMC – Female Main Character. This might also sometimes show up as MFC.
MMC – Male Main Character
H – Hero. This is your MMC.
h – Heroine. This is your FMC.
LI – Love Interest. This is whoever is romancing your main character.
POC – Person of Color. Any characters or authors that aren’t white. You’ll usually see people asking for stories that provide representation for a specific group, or for an author from a marginalized group. This applies to the next two acronyms as well.
WOC – Woman of Color
BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
Bi – This is short for bisexual. It could also be short for biromantic, but I’ve never actually seen it show up in that form in a book request.
Ace – This is short for asexual. Asexuality is complicated, but if you’d like a little more information on it, I highly suggest checking out my blog post on asexuality and kink.
Demi – This is short for demisexual, or demiromantic. People who are demi require an emotional connection before they experience sexual attraction if they’re demisexual, or before they experience romantic attraction if they’re demiromantic.
Relationships and Sexy Time
FTB – Fade To Black. This means that the sexy content does not appear on the page, and right when they get to the good stuff the scene fades out.
Clean – While I disagree with the clean/dirty dichotomy in reference to sexual content, if you see it show up, clean means a story that doesn’t contain any sexual content, coarse language, or violence.
HEA – Happily Ever After. This means that at the end of the story the leads are happy and together. In some cases that might mean marriage and/or babies, and in others they’re simply committed to one another. The epilogue will usually give readers a peek into what the HEA means for the characters since it takes place in the future and we get to see everything in action.
HFN – Happy For Now. This basically means that the characters have overcome the major hurdle of the story and they’re optimistically looking toward a future together, even if they don’t know what that future holds. The characters may still have some work to do, or may not be ready to fully commit to one another. This can show up in standalones, but is also quite common in series that follow the same romantic leads as they work through their story together, potentially ending on an HEA in the last book.
OTP – One True Pairing. This is a reader’s ultimate pairing and applies to both canon pairings and ships.
NOTP – This is the opposite of the OTP and refers to pairings you absolutely don’t want to happen.
Slow burn – In reference to books we’re usually talking about romances in which the romantic attraction takes a long time to build, either taking the entirety of the book to come to fruition, or several books before the characters finally get together. You may also see requests for fast burn, which is when the characters get together very quickly, or medium burn, which is nearer the middle of the spectrum.
Smut – This is explicit sexual content, often of a gratuitous nature. Whether or not this refers to the number of sex scenes, the level of description within them, or the kinks involved is up for debate since it seems to be used interchangeably for all of those options.
FF – Female/Female pairing
MM – Male/Male pairing
MF – Male/Female pairing
When it comes to multiple characters being involved in the relationships it gets more complicated. Essentially, you have your main character as the point in which everyone revolves. Characters to the left of your MC interact romantically or sexually and characters to the right do not.
For example: If you have a lady lead involved with two men who are not together you’d have that show up as MFM with her in the middle and the men to each side, where her letter separates them. If the men were together it would be written as MMF.
Of course this gets much more complicated if everyone is the same gender. Seeing MMM or FFF doesn’t give you a lot of information, so you’ll probably have to specifically ask in those cases.
RH – Reverse Harem, also known as Why Choose. This has the FMC at the center of things with multiple partners focused on them.
Ménage – This technically refers to relationships with multiple people. Before the popularity of reverse harem and why choose, ménage was used to denote the same thing, but with a number attached. For example, most people will know ménage à trois to indicate there are three people involved, which is most likely what you’ll encounter, but you could also use ménage à quatre, ménage à cinq, etc.
WLW – Women Loving Women. This refers to any relationship where women are together and could apply to lesbian, bisexual, ace, etc. characters.
MLM – Men Loving Men. This refers to any relationship where men are together and could apply to gay, bisexual, ace, etc. characters.
Sapphic – This is the same as women loving women, at least to my knowledge.
Achillean – Male version of sapphic.
Swords Crossing – This means that the men involved with the FMC will sexually interact.
That’s all for now. I’ll be covering a bunch more acronyms and short forms in another episode. You can find all of my books and platforms in the description below. If you have questions or suggestions for future episodes, please do let me know. And if you’d like early access to these you can join my Patreon where I share them with people as soon as they’re ready to roll. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you soon for another episode!
First Heat Series – m/f, 3rd person POV
First Heat: https://books2read.com/FirstHeat
First Heat: Second Chances: https://books2read.com/FHSC
First Heat: Tying The Knot: https://books2read.com/FirstHeatTTK
Heat Play Love – m/m/m, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/HeatPlayLove
Conference Confidential – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/ConferenceConfidential
2021 Omegaverse Collection – contains First Heat, First Heat: Second Chances, Heat Play Love, Conference Confidential, and 2 bonus shorts https://books2read.com/OV2021
Nicky and the Night Owls: Part One – polyamorous (m/f/nb/f/nb/m), multi 1st person POV https://books2read.com/NickyNightOwls
Nicky and the Night Owls: Part Two – polyamorous (m/f/nb/f/nb/m), multi 1st person POV – currently on preorder https://books2read.com/NickyNightOwls2
Luca and Luna – m/f, 1st person POV https://books2read.com/LucaLuna
Salacious Salvation – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/SalaciousSalvation
Playtime with Professor – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/PlaytimeWithProfessor
PARANORMAL Into The Depths – f/nb, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/intothedepths
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