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Back Matter: What’s at the end of your book?

Back Matter: What’s at the end of your book?

The reader just finished your book. The End. Sigh. Swoon. Now what?

They might just close the book and put it on their nightstand and get a cup of coffee and be done with it. Forever.

Or they might flip to the back cover to read more about you, the author, and see what else they might learn about you.

You might not ever have a more opportune moment where you have your reader’s undivided attention. What are you going to do with it?

You have this precious moment in time when the reader is all yours. Ideally, they loved your book, didn’t want it to end, and are hungry for more. Sure, they’re satisfied with how this book ended, but they would like to read the next in the series or if you don’t have a series, they’d just like to know what else you have on offer.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

In case it isn’t clear enough, this is a moment in time that we as authors should cherish and do our utmost to optimize. What, ideally, would you like your reader to do now?

Let’s toss around a few options:

  1. Put it down and never think of it (or you) again.
  2. Pick up your next book (which is sitting next to them on the same nightstand).
  3. Wonder where they could get more of your books.
  4. Want to read more of your books.
  5. Connect with you, the author, and join your mailing list so that they won’t miss any announcements about upcoming (and past) books.

1 through 4 aren’t terribly concrete (with the exception of #2). But #5 is a direct connection between reader and writer. Sounds like a great plan. So how do we do it?

What can we offer the reader so that they’ll want to hand over their email address?

What can you offer in return for joining the mailing list?

  1. Announcements about upcoming books.
  2. Special (secret?) deals and prizes for being a member of the tribe.
  3. Access to other, possibly not publicly available, books and content exclusively for mailing list subscribers.
  4. This is open to your creativity!

In addition to the mailing list sign up, what else could appear in the back matter of a book?

  1. Ask for a review of the book (simply asking does make a difference). Explain to the reader why it’s so helpful.
  2. About the author section.
  3. Titles and short synopses of your other books.
  4. Acknowledgments to those who helped you along the way.
  5. Bibliography (if applicable).
  6. Table of contents (there are some theories as to why or why not put this at the back of the book instead of the front).

There you have it. Some ideas for what could go at the back of the book. As for the front of the book, some say that all you need is a note about signing up for your mailing list which then refers to the back of the book.

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