Writing front and back matter matters, apparently. It contains important legal things. And marketing things. Stuff that can make a difference to an author’s continuing professional success.
So here’s the thing: I tried to do this drunk. Two times. Partly because it’s kinda boring, partly because it’s kind of terrifying. This kind of thing is definitely where it’d be nice to have an agent/editor/publisher to do it for you, or at least reign you in when you are becoming ridiculous.
And I was definitely becoming ridiculous.
What front and back matter does a book need?
Generally speaking, it’s the stuff like copyright information, a title page, dedication, author info, acknowledgments and so on. If there’s a gold standard, then I don’t know what that is; I just read a few traditionally published books – and indie titles – until I got a feel for what was important. On an ebook you generally jump right into the first chapter, right? So I erred on the side of brevity and just included the bare minimum at the front end: title page and copyright. For the title page I created something fractionally more snazzy than standard in Canva, and for the copyright page I just used the same wording the majority of other books used.
It was the back matter that twisted my melon, man.
Be interesting! Be funny! Be yourself! Don’t be weird!
Here’s what I boiled the back essentials to:
- Request for reviews
- About the author
But, ugh. For a start, I’m not strong at writing about myself in third person, so the About the Author page was a bit weird. How much do you include? How much do people want to know? When it’s your first book, you already feel like a bit of fraud assuming anyone wants to know anything about you – or that they’ll even get that far.
Again, for inspiration I read other author’s info pages and bios – but of the twelve I read, ten were established writers and seven had also been journalists, a fact which featured heavily in their bios. I’m neither of those things. So I winged it.
Ditto the request for reviews page. This is a tricky one. I don’t wanna sound desperate for reviews (though – let’s be clear, I definitely will be) as I find that a bit off-putting when I read similar pleas myself. On the other hand, it’s clearly worth mentioning because sometimes it doesn’t occur to readers that reviews matter, especially if they don’t know you’re an indie author and are basically clawing your way through publishing like that girl in The Ring across the floor.
Equally, I don’t yet have anything to dangle as an incentive to sign up for my newsletter – other than the promise of a sequel. Which hasn’t yet been written, but WILL BE. Therefore, in lieu of actual useful information, I’ve combined the scant details I do have with a sprinkle of my own personal brand of ‘it was funny when I first thought it but only for twenty seconds and not to anyone else’ humour.
Thank GOD for my online writing pal Claire who served as a sounding board when I was well into my third glass of Sav Blanc, and was able to suggest that mis-quoting song lyrics at my readers was…unnecessary.
And that’s it, really. I think. I fully intend to keep tweaking over time (and that’s the gorgeous thing about going indie – you can change it up at any time) as I write more books and have more to say – but for the first book I’m keeping it simple, low key and only a little bit weird. Tiny. Wincy.