What About Back Matter?

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The where’s and why’s of back matter

The Back of Your Book

We previously covered your book’s front matter. But what happens after you type “The End?”

The back of the book—your back matter or end matter—is a place to include extra material. What to include depends on the type of book you’ve written. A fiction novel would generally not require a bibliography, for instance, but a historical nonfiction book might. Your book editor and/or publisher should be able to guide you on what back matter is and isn’t necessary, whether you write e-books, hard covers or paperbacks.

Some authors use the back of the book as “real estate” for marketing, as well. Read ahead for explanations and ideas!

Epilogue

Have you ever read a novel and didn’t want it to end? If so, it’s so nice to turn that last page and…pow!…there’s an epilogue! The epilogue is the “final” final chapter and can serve different purposes—something you, as an author, should keep in mind whether you write e-books in the romance realm or print books in a series. An epilogue serves as a way to provide closure or tie up loose ends, or can tease readers with hints about what’s to come in a sequels or prequels.

Afterword

Some authors treat an epilogue as an afterward—a direct address to the reader. An afterword explains how story came to be and how the author developed it (much like a preface). If the book is being re-issued after being out of print, an afterword can be written by a notable person or subject matter expert to explain the cultural context, historical value, and reason why it’s being re-issued. Authors who have written print books exclusively in the past, but now write e-books, can opt to digitize their work and include an explanation in the afterword.

Postscript

A very informal afterword is called a postscript or “P.S.” (Latin for post scriptum, meaning written after). We normally see this in personal letters and correspondence, but some authors use it purposefully as a different end treatment in a novel.

Appendix or Addendum

An appendix is a supplement to the book and provides details, tables, updates and corrections to earlier material or data that is too detailed to be included in a chapter. The appendix may also include a chronology— a list of sequential events—that help a reader keep up with or refer back to important content. While not mandatory, an appendix can be helpful to readers.

Glossary

A glossary is a list of alphabetized definitions for words found within the book. It is included for the reader’s reference. Scholarly books may have a glossary, but so may science fiction novels.

Index

An index is a listing of a book’s content by page number so that readers can easily locate terms within a book. Think of it as a road map to help readers make sense of complicated content.

Bibliography, Works Cited or Reference List

A bibliography details other books, publications and/or intellectual property that you’ve used in your book. Citing these sources safeguards you from plagiarism and gives credit to the originator. Most bibliographies are alphabetized but can also be arranged by topic or relevance. Bibliographies serve as an invitation to further research and points readers to associated topics.

List of Contributors

Although your acknowledgements page shouts out people who inspired you, a list of contributors acknowledges those who physically assisted in the research, writing and compilation of your book—true hands-on work.

Errata

At times a manuscript requires a correction—an errata. This usually appears in subsequent publications to clarify or correct a mistake.

About the Author

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy learning more about the authors who write e-books and the print editions I love. Therefore, I recommend that authors include an “About the Author” page in the back of the book. This shouldn’t read like a resume or CV unless you’ve written a scholarly manuscript. Instead your “About the Author” page should be a conversational, likeable, and somewhat personal missive—written with book sales in mind. It can include your backlist (older books still in print) or upcoming titles. It can also include causes you are passionate about.

Marketing and Calls to Action

  • Both print and digital books can include an author interview
  • Both print and digital books can include book club discussion questions
  • Both print and digital books can include sample excerpts (teasers) from your upcoming titles
  • Digitalized books can include links directing readers to your backlist on Amazon
  • Digitalized books can include a subscription link to your newsletter
  • Digitalized books can include links directing readers to post book reviews
  • Digitalized books can include links to your website and social media pages
  • Digitalized books can include links to a cause or fundraiser associated with your topic

 

I can help you write your masterpiece. Contact melanie@melaniesaxtonmedia.com.