“Back Matter” Guide for Self-Published Authors

The back matters, too.

Here’s a follow up to our recent post on front matter.

What’s the difference between a dedication and an acknowledgment? An epilogue and an afterword? Which one comes first? And where do I get to talk about living in NYC with my perfect husband? (We’re looking at you, Lauren Weisberger.)

Don’t fret. We’ll have you name-dropping Meryl Streep and Golden Globes in no time. Below are the definitions of each piece to the puzzle. They are presented in the same order they should appear in your novel:

  1. Epilogue
  2. Afterword
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. About the Author
  5. Also by

Epilogue

An epilogue is a section at the end of your book that serves a kind of conclusion. It helps to bring a bit of closure to the reader, and it’s presented from the same perspective as from within the story. You can use an epilogue to add some insight to any interesting happenings that may have taken place after that perfect ending you wrote.

Some epilogues use the same narrative style as used throughout the book, but others can be written from a different character’s perspective.

A modern example of the epilogue was at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Just when millions of readers thought they were seeing their final glimpses into the lives of their most beloved wizards, Rowling hit us with some insight with the infamous ‘Nineteen years later’ epilogue. Which was basically the below picture, but in text form:

CA.0802.harry.potter.hallows.2.

Spoiler alert: they get married and have babies…magical babies!

Afterword

The afterword is typically written by someone other than the author and offers insight into why the book was written, or how it came into being. It can answer any questions that were left unclear. It is rare to have both a foreword and an afterword, as they pretty much serve the same purpose, but one comes before the content, and one comes after.

Acknowledgments

While a dedication sits at the front of the book and states who the book was written for, the acknowledgments section is typically in the back and lists people who helped with the book.

Typically, these people include publicists, agents, and of course, editors. Every acknowledgment section is different though, and could include everyone from friends and family, to a favorite barista. (Thanks for the extra whip Nico, you the best.)

Acknowledgment sections can include interesting little facts for your readers as well, like if you used your real sister’s name for a character, or if you wrote the entire book on napkins before hiring some guy named Greg on Craigslist to type it up for you.

About the Author

There are a couple of things you can consider adding to your “About the Author” page, including but not limited to:

  • Your educational background
  • Career history
  • Awards
  • Writing experience
  • Your family or place of residence
  • Contact information
  • Social media info
  • A photo

Here is a long and non-Harry Potter example for J.K. Rowling, from her book Very Good Lives.

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Also by

Though you can easily list your previous works in your “About the Author” section, you can choose to have a separate section if you’ve published a lot of content. A lot of young adult authors do this so that they can also include images of the covers.

No matter your genre, it’s always good to provide a list of your work for readers who are interested in buying more of your books.

Also note that you can include this section at the beginning of your book, should you choose to do so. There is no strict rule against doing so.

Here is an example for the very prolific Stephen King, featured in his book The Stand. 

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And there you have it, back matter! As always, if you have any questions about front matter, back matter, or any other matter, comment below or shoot us a message on our Contact page.

 

 

 

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