Back Matter Buzz

Back matter buzz –Gertie Saves the Day

Authors are a buzz! At each author event I attend this month there seems to be a Back Matter Buzz among the authors. While non fiction books often have back matter, it is new territory for picture book authors. What exactly is back matter? Do picture books have back matter? Where should I be adding back matter to my manuscript? Want to know more? Join the buzz!

What is back matter?

Back matter comes after the rest of the book’s text. It offers additional detail about a key part of the main text. In a picture book, back matter supports ideas that might be too complex to address in the main text. It can take the form of a glossary, index, suggested reading, timeline, author biography or note. You will often find back matter in non fiction picture books, educational books and trade books. Trade publishers are discovering that well crafted back matter can boost classroom sales. Bottom line is not all books have or need back matter.

What type of back matter should I include?

It is going to depend greatly on your manuscript. As mentioned above, there are many different forms of back matter. The choice is with the author. The author decides if back matter is needed and what form it will take.

Gertie Saves the Day is a book about Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day is largely celebrated in the United States. What if my reader was not from the United States? Maybe the reader had never heard of Groundhog Day? What if they did not understand the connection between the groundhog and predicting an early spring? How could I help classroom teachers to use the book to support the curriculum. I decided to provide a little background and some fun facts to support classroom learning.

How do you make room for back matter?

A picture book is typically 32 pages in length. Using my picture book template and looking at the pagination and page turns, I calculated space for the back matter. The story is the most important part of the book. Be sure you have enough space to tell the story, not cram in the ending to leave space for your back matter.

When do you include back matter in a manuscript?

Since most manuscripts are submitted electronically, I leave several spaces between the end of my manuscript and add (Optional Back Matter) as a heading. Then I add my back matter. It is best to add back matter to the full manuscript rather than waiting until later. You want the editor to see the whole book.

Does back matter get included in word count?

Simple answer is no, it does not get counted toward your word count. When you are calculating the word count for your manuscript, you only need to count the words in the main text of the story.

Bonus – Things you can do with the back matter

  1. Use it as a reader magnet – it can be used as digital content that a reader can download once they provide their email address.
  2. Provide a link to your author website where they can find the back matter to your most recent book.
  3. Social media – encourage readers to connect with you and receive the back matter as digital content.
  4. Share it in your newsletter, invite readers to subscribe to your newsletter to receive book updates and other digital content.

With gratitude …

I am glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. It is an endless journey of learning and growing. A journey that I am enjoying. 

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