By Iola Goulton @IolaGoulton
This month, I've been looking at what goes in the front and the back of a published book. We've talked about what goes in the front matter:
- Title Page
- Credits Page
- Table of Contents
And we've covered what is included in the author information (which can be part of the front matter or the back matter):
- Author’s Note
- About the Author
- Link to author website
- Social media links
Today we’re looking at what else goes in your back matter (also known as end matter). Back matter can include:
- List of books by the author
- List of comparable books from the publisher (for trade published books)
- Link to publisher website (for trade published books)
- References or end notes (non-fiction)
- Index (non-fiction)
- Review request (especially in self-published books)
- Email list invitation (especially in self-published books)
- Discussion Questions
Back matter is prime selling space.
If your reader has enjoyed the book (and we hope they have), they want to find out more about the book, the series, and the author. The back matter is your opportunity to capitalise on that interest and turn a reader into a fan.
Good back matter sells books. And this starts with the book list.
There is probably some fancy psychological term for what comes down to pleasure.
If the reader enjoyed your book, they want to replicate that feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Their brain is primed to do this in the easiest way possible: by buying and reading another of your books. As an author (and especially if you’re a self-published author) you need to capitalise on your reader’s lack of impulse control.
Your back matter should include a list of all your books, especially if this novel is part of a series.
Include a list of all the books in the series in reading order. You can also include older books, either in series order or in reverse order of publication (i.e. newest first).
If the book is part of a series, make sure you include information sales on the next book in the series (e.g book description and release date). The best time to persuade a customer to buy your next book is when they have happy feelings about just finishing the current book. We will not discuss how much money I spend this way.
If your book is an ebook, make this list into hyperlinks to a retail site (Amazon, or whichever site the book was purchased from). If the book is part of a series, include the buy link or pre-order link to the next book in the series. If it’s not yet available for pre-order, direct them to a page on your website where they can sign up for your email list so they are the first to know when the new book goes on sale.
A great book followed by comprehensive back matter is your best marketing tool for the next book. Take advantage of it. Make it easy for your readers to buy your next book.
A trade publisher may also include links to other books in the same genre by other authors from their publishing house. Your objective as an author is to sell your books. Their objective as a publisher is to sell books: yours, and those of all their other authors.
Email List Signup LinkSelf published authors realise the importance of having an email list. Savvy authors will include a link to their email list in their back matter. They may also offer an incentive for people to sign up to the list e.g. a free novel or novella.
Review RequestPositive reviews from customers are an important feature of Amazon, and other retail sites. Less than one reader in a thousand will review a book simply because they enjoyed it—mostly because they don’t know how adding their review helps an author.
Adding a request for a book review on Amazon, Goodreads, or your favourite online bookstore will help boost your review rate. This, in turn, will make your book look more popular (which can help with sales), and will increase your chances of getting a BookBub advertisement.
Discussion QuestionsThe rise of book clubs means a lot of novels include discussion questions at the back of the novel. These make it easy for the book club host to facilitate the discussion. Discussion questions usually take two pages of a standard paperback.
Publisher InformationA trade publisher may also include their own website information, an invitation to sign up to their email list, or an invitation to join their book blogger/review programme.
References/End NotesA novel might include a list of reference either in the Author’s Note, or separately. Fiction authors usually include just a simple list of book titles and authors, ordered alphabetically on the title.
References in non-fiction are more complex. They need to include more information—title, author, publisher, year, and the exact page or chapter reference. They are formatted according to the publisher’s style guide, which could be Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), Associated Press Style (AP), the Christian Writer’s Manual of Style (CMS), another style guide, or an in-house publisher guide.
Paperback or hardcover non-fiction books may include footnotes, but these can mess with the formatting in ebooks. Many newer books use endnotes instead. These may be at the end of each chapter, or at the end of the book, but before the index.
IndexNon-fiction books (other than memoir) need an index.
Indexing is a specialised skill, and should be completed by your publisher or a qualified freelancer. The convention is that the index is at the very end of the book. This makes it easy for readers to find the information they are looking for.
ConclusionI have come across some small trade publishers which do not include back matter in their books. This, to my mind, is a problem. They are missing out on potential sales. They are also depriving you, the author, from the opportunity to connect with readers.
It’s worth asking (or getting your agent to ask) what your trade publisher includes in their back matter, and what you will need to contribute (e.g. discussion questions).
What else do you like to see included in the back matter of a book? How much is too much?
About Iola Goulton
Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).
Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.