Dear Most Elevated Snarkness,
Reading Publishers Lunch and checking over the "deals" page, I notice there are explanations of the figures involved in "a good deal," "a nice deal," etc. But there is no explanation of what, exactly, is a "pre-empt" or how it works. My first guess would be that it has something to do with an auction, but...can you enlighten a Snarkling about what a "pre-empt" deal entails?
A pre-empt means a publisher unlocks the wallet and tosses enough green on the table to entice the author and agent to call up everyone else who might be preparing a bid and say "sorry, you snooze you lose". In other words, they preempt all other bidders by giving you enough money to quell your anxiety that you could have gotten more if you'd asked around.
It's like reaching for the dinner check before the other person has a chance to put down their fork.
Killer Yapp's offer to gnaw on the UPS man is regularly preempted by Miss Snark's proffer of a cookie.