The Parts of a Finished Book: An Inside Look
So you’ve written your novel, had it beta read, made corrections, and gone through the editing process. Now what? Can you just throw it up onto Amazon like that? If not, what else are you missing?
First off, major congratulations on reaching this step. So many writers never make it here, so you’re well ahead of the game!
Before you put the book up for sale on a retailer, you have to add a few more details to have your “complete product”. The “Front Matter” and “Back Matter” of the book can do a lot more to help you build your author platform than you might realize. A book sale can be so much more with the right additions.
The term “Front Matter” refers to all of the content that comes before the reader actually gets to the story. This includes:
- Dedications and Acknowledgements. You can use this section to make your alpha or beta readers feel special, as well as to thank anyone who proved instrumental in helping you write the story.
- Table of Contents – Adding this at the beginning of the book can make it easier for readers to find their place in the story. It’s not a must-have, but it can make browsing the story easier for later re-reads.
- Newsletter Sign-Up – This may be controversial, but it’s totally worth adding. Having a link to your newsletter sign-up at the beginning of the book may not lead to a whole lot of new subscribers, but it will put the idea in their head when they start the book. When they see it again at the end, they’re far more likely to actually sign up, especially if they enjoyed the book.
- Recap –– This is something that only a very few authors do, but it can be handy if you’re writing a novel series. Think of it like the “Previously on…” that you see on TV shows. It can help readers get caught up to the present story without your needing to delve into past details in the first chapters of the novel.
The “Back Matter” is everything that comes after you type “The End” of the story. This is the chance for you to share important things:
- Sneak Preview of the Next Book – This is a great way to get readers interested in continuing the story. And, if you already have the next book up for pre-order, they are far more likely to take action and pre-order it if there is a link in the back of the book.
- Newsletter Sign-Up – Now that you’ve gotten them hooked on your story, it’s time to collect their email address—often in exchange for a short story related to the book or series they just finished reading. Thanks to the sign-up offer in the beginning of the book, they’re more likely to take the step to subscribe.
- A Word from the Author – Many authors use this as a chance to share an interesting tidbit about the idea that inspired the book, the information they uncovered, or something else that helps the reader connect with them personally. It’s a great tool for reader engagement, especially if it leads into the newsletter sign-up.
- Other Books By – Some readers like to “binge” books by an author they love. Adding a complete list of all your other books at the end of the novel will give them a chance to check out your backlist. It’s a great trick to sell more of your older books.
- About the Author – This is where you post your bio, your author photo, and any important links you want to share (Facebook Reader Group, author website, Facebook Author Page, Twitter, etc.).
The more you share with the reader, the more they get to know you, the author. And the more ways you give them to connect with you—via your newsletter list, website, and social media—the more likely they are to go from random buyers to dedicated fans.
Andy Peloquin is an award-winning author of epic fantasy novels with dark, gut-wrenching twists and turns. He loves to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. You can pick up his newest release, Queen of the Night Guild, on Amazon.
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