So you’ve edited and re-edited your book, you’ve tweaked and re-tweaked, and read it over so many times you’re bleary-eyed. You’re ready to publish. The front matter of all books is pretty well prescribed: title page, publication page, and perhaps an introduction or table of contents. But what the heck do you put at the back of the book? If you’ve been involved in many online forums, you’ve probably seen quite a bit of discussion about this. Let’s break it down.
Request for a Review
We all hope to garner as many reviews as possible, but the hard part is getting readers to actually leave them. There are many reasons readers may be reluctant to do that: not knowing what to say, being afraid their writing skills are not up to par, thinking it’s a lot of work, etc. If we could only convince them it’s not difficult, doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, and it’s very, very important to us.
How do we do that? Ask for it. The first thing I put in my book immediately after the end of the story is a request for a review. I keep it short and sweet while hitting all those points above. Here’s what I use:
I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you did, I would greatly appreciate a short review on Amazon or your favorite book website. Reviews are crucial for any author, and even just a line or two can make a huge difference.
And why do I put this immediately after the end of the story? Because so many readers do not read beyond the story. Many readers completely ignore any back matter, so I want to get my pitch in right away, while the afterglow of the story is still fresh. However, for those who do read beyond, there’s so much more we can give them.
About the Author
Most readers want to know a little bit about the authors of books they like. Who is that masked man (or woman) behind that book? It’s easy enough to give them a glimpse into our lives, our personalities, without writing a dissertation. As a matter of fact, I believe one or two paragraphs, max, is enough. Whenever I see an author bio that goes on for a page and a half, the first thing I think is: newbie. Yes, I know it’s exciting to have that first book out there, I know it’s exciting to “come out” as an author, but really, less is more. I don’t need to know what high school you graduated from, or what the names are of your five mixed-breed dogs. I’m sure they’re incredibly sweet, but… just no.
Other Books by…
If this is not your first book, you definitely want to list your other books. If the reader has enjoyed the story, the first thing they will want to do is check out your other titles. I will usually list my books in the front matter, but in the back, I include a paragraph about each of the books to entice readers to go deeper. In my eBooks, I will absolutely put a link from the book title to its page on Amazon. (Note: Kindle allows this, obviously, but other eBook publishers like Smashwords will not allow links to Amazon. Make sure you know and follow the rules for your publishing company.)
Many authors choose to put an entire first chapter of another book in the back material, hoping to snag the reader’s attention and lure them into another story. In paperbacks, this can increase your page count significantly, and with it, your shipping costs and overall price, so there’s that to consider. In eBooks, of course, there are no such concerns and you can load up the back end of your books to your heart’s delight. Interestingly, there is a split opinion about this. I’ve seen in forums that many readers do not even look at sample chapters, while others enjoy them. It seems to be a toss-up.
In the olden days, authors were pretty much ensconced in ivory towers, protected by the dragon-infested moat that was the traditional publishing company. If you wanted to contact an author, you had to write a letter (yes, complete with envelope and stamp) and send it in care of the publisher, and then you just might — might — reach the actual author. Getting a response back was another matter. Nowadays, though, with social media, most of the barriers between authors and readers are gone. And readers like that. They like to be able to connect with authors and — admit it — we authors can get pretty jazzed about a nice e-mail that gushes about our latest book. As long as we are careful about what contact info we put out to the world (obviously not our home address or private phone number), and as long as we conduct ourselves professionally when responding to readers, it’s all good.
What contact info should you include? How about your Amazon author page to start, then your web page, your blog, your Facebook author page, your Twitter handle, and so on. In addition, you can add your profile on LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and all the other social media sites if you feel so inclined. The boundary on your availability should only be dictated by your own time and energy constraints. You don’t want to put out a contact avenue that you’re too busy to respond to. Let’s keep those readers happy, engaged, and ready to read!