Dun Writin’—Now Whut? – 40 Using the Back of your Book Effectively (A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing)

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Using the Back of your Book Effectively

Back matter” is what comes at the end of your book…after you type “The End.” Some authors don’t do much with it, which is a shame, because you’re missing a great opportunity for highly effective passive marketing. In other words: Free Advertising!

With an e-book, there are no restrictions as to how long your back matter can or should be. At a minimum, this area of the book should contain a polite request for a review, author bio and links, and details of other books you have written. But don’t just stop there—be creative! Why simply list the other books you’ve written? Why not post the entire first chapter of each? It’s a wonderful opportunity to coax the reader of your current book into the worlds of your already published works. If you’ve done a good job writing those first chapters, you might find improved sales follow re-publishing them.

What if you haven’t written any other books? Well, are you working on a next book? Even if it’s not a sequel, you still have the same opportunity to draw the reader in. You do need to be careful, though, of labeling material from a work in progress. For instance, if you include “the first chapter from my next book,” you’d better be 100% sure the material definitely *is* going to be the first chapter! And once you’ve published it in the back of another book, you can’t change it. You might consider, therefore, labeling it as “an exciting portion of my next work in progress.” You will not be bound as to where it will appear, and since you’re stating it’s a work in progress, you’re not promising it will ever be shown as worded. Using a key scene from the next book will generally prevent the possibility of it being cut altogether.

What if you have no plans to write another book and have no previous material to insert in the back matter? You can still use this valuable space for additional materials pertinent to your book. “Questions for Discussion,” for instance, is a popular section that frequently inhabits the end of a book. Maps, glossaries, an index, and additional character information are also good ideas. Done correctly—and well—the end of your book can incorporate added value to your customer’s purchase.

We’re Dun for today, so keep on Writin’!

Susan

Susan Uttendorfsky

Owner, Adirondack Editing

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41 thoughts on “Dun Writin’—Now Whut? – 40 Using the Back of your Book Effectively (A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing)

  1. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Thanks!

    Or maybe it’s just that, as you approach publication, you start to notice posts about those little details (like back matter) you are going to have to bring into the forefront and DO something about.

    I’m of two minds about including material from the next book. In the case of a trilogy, when it was important for the first Book to feel finished, satisfactory in itself, a complete story, adding the beginning of the next book can cut into that suspense, answer those questions before the reader has a good chance to mull the first book over.

    I’m of two minds about it – but will have to pick one way or the other (or decide to do it without first, and then see if it gets more readers with a sample of the next). Experiments are sometimes useful, but there are a lot of other parameters being changed at the same time when you launch, and it may be premature to start fiddling right away.

    The plan is to go WRITE the next one, and the next one. But I already know exactly what happens in the first couple of scenes of the next book – I’ll have to decide if readers would like to know, too.

    What is your personal opinion? And does it depend on the genre of the work?

    Alicia

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, Alicia, that it’s an experiment without a control. You’ll never really know if including additional material in the back matter leads to more sales of the next book or not. (I don’t think you’ll find that it will impact the sales of the book that the back matter is *in*, because readers won’t know it’s there until they get to the end of the book!)

      No, I don’t think the genre of the book matters. If a reader enjoyed your book and your style of writing, they’ll be open to reading additional writings. If they didn’t enjoy your book, you haven’t lost anything by including new material, though. 🙂

      You won’t want to give away any secrets to the sequel in the back matter: adding the beginning of the next book can cut into that suspense, answer those questions before the reader has a good chance to mull the first book over. If those opening scenes answer any big, lingering question in the minds of readers (like whether the hero survives), definitely use something different! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      • Like all people heading into publication of their first novel, I have a ton of things I could do. My energy restrictions are going to force me to do a soft launch, to go slow, and to prioritize like crazy.

        I like your evaluation – and will add to that the fact that if they don’t like my book/writing, they won’t even make it to the back matter, so the entire question is moot.

        Also, writing, ‘To be continued,’ rather than ‘The end,’ gives away that there is more (I’m hoping to leave readers both satisfied so far and panting for the next book, a huge requirement for any writer). I actually checked out how long my paperback copy of Gone With the Wind is (1468 pages), to see how big a paperback binding can be made. The plan initially was for a single story, but I realized it wouldn’t be believable if I took steps that are too large, because the premise is going to be a very hard sell.

        But I’m in no hurry, though I still get the occasional binge reader (love them) who gets to the end of what it already posted on the blog (almost the whole thing now) and desperately writes, ‘where’s the rest!’

        Like a snail, I am moving as fast as I can – but it doesn’t look fast to the world.

        The hero survives, but that isn’t the important part, so I don’t have to worry about that one – there wouldn’t be ANY story otherwise. At the end of GWTW both Scarlett and Rhett were alive. I always wish Margaret Mitchell had written the sequel – I wonder how far out she had thought the story. I did not try Alexandra Ripley’s ‘Scarlett’ – I only read sequels from the original writer – so we will never know. But do you remember the feeling the reader has at the end of the original? I do – and it has been over half a century since I read it. THAT’S something to aim for.

        Alicia

        Liked by 2 people

    • You may have a point, Erik, but I don’t think so. Anything you add is a bonus for the reader. The only true drawback that anybody’s been able to come up with so far is that if the book was listed as (for example) 150 pages, and 50 of those pages were back matter, then the purchaser might feel cheated that the book was not as long as they anticipated. An author could avoid that problem, though, by stopping the page numbers at the end of the story and starting a new numbering system (such as i, ii, iii, etc.) for the back matter. 😀 Thanks for commenting as usual!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Thanks for this Chris. Being a newbie to this creative wprld of writing and having just published my debut novel in December, I really wish I had read this post first. Oh well better late than never and will make sure I fill up those blank spaces in my next book I plan to publish this year.

    As always your posts are very interesting. Just wish I had more time to read thru all of them.
    Thanks again Chris.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are great ideas, some of which I had never thought of. Thank you very much.
    I can attest to the value of a Discussion Guide.
    I did put a Discussion Guide at the back of my book, A Good Home. I hoped it would signal to book clubs and course leaders that there were interesting topics to explore in the book. I do think that’s part of the reason why A Good Home has become a book club favourite. It may even have helped to attract the libraries that stock the book.

    Liked by 1 person

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