Using Back Matter in your Ebooks Correctly

Today I’d like to talk about something that I don’t see talked about in too much detail on the web. It is however something that I’ve seen certain authors inquire about on the Kindleboards so I thought why not bring it up for some discussion.

As you create your ebooks whether it’s meant for Kindle or Kobo or Nook or whoever, you have the option of inserting front matter or back matter sections. Now before we get into it, these are merely meant as suggestions and there are definitely some who refuse to put a Table of Contents at the beginning of their book for instance since it sucks up some of their Amazon “Look Inside” preview. I’m thinking these authors must have very short books then because I don’t see any reason why you should care.

 

Front Matter

Table of Contents

Somewhere at the beginning of your book you’re going to want a TOC. It usually follows right after a Title Page or Copyright for the book. A working TOC can be very tricky for some it seems. It’s a little hard to go into detail about how to set one up since there’s so many programs out there. Each author could be using something different — MS Word, Sigil, Scrivener, Calibre, and so on.

Ideally a proper TOC would include ALL of the necessary components. This could include:

  • Dedication
  • Introduction
  • Part(s)
  • Prologue
  • Chapters
  • Epilogue
  • Bonus Stories
  • About the Author
  • More Books by Author
  • Social and Website Links, Mailing List Info

If you were doing a collection of short stories, please please please, create a TOC that includes ALL of the Story Titles and Story Notes if applicable. I’ve picked up a few short story collections and they’re just one big document. This does not help your readers! What if they want to refer back to one particular story for review purposes or because well, they enjoyed it and want to re-read that story. Make it easy for them!

 

Back Matter

About the Author

Typically this should probably be the first thing following the end of your story. An About the Author page is written in 3rd person and refers to your background, accomplishments, awards won and the titles that you have written. More info can be read about it here. What I personally like to do for my authors at EnemyOne is have their Author blurb first and then follow it up with their website, Twitter, and Facebook links. There’s usually a mention about their Mailing List as well if they have one. I find it becomes a nice, solid length of text but also includes every single important social link possible.

 

More Books By Author

I would follow that up with the More Books by Author page. Now, if you’re just starting out chances are you won’t have a lot of titles so feel free to incorporate this into your About the Author Page. But, for those others that have let’s say… 3 books or more, I would suggest creating a separate page.

I usually start off by thanking the reader for picking up the book and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing, reviewing or talking about the book.

Following that I list the titles that are available now for sale and include the links directly to the ebooks. If this is a Kindle version of the book, all links would point directly to Amazon. If it were a Kobo book, then the links would go to the Kobo store, etc.

I then usually list a Coming Soon but not every author would have a need for such a thing.

If you find you have way too much extra space and would like to fill it up some, take the opportunity to put in some of the blurbs for your Titles. It will fill the text up nicely and also serve as an ad for your book without them going to Amazon right away. Obviously include another link directly following the blurb as a reminder. Again, keep it simple and make it easy for them.

 

Connect

This last one may not apply to you since you may have included Social Media links in the About the Author pages but with EnemyOne, we’re a publishing company so we have our own social media section at the back so we can advertise our own Twitter/Facebook accounts as well as the Mailing List and other books published by us. It’s our last opportunity to grab the reader’s attention (if they’ve made it this far!) and get them to click over onto one of our pages.

 

Bonus Short Stories or Chapter Excerpts

One other option you could include would be Bonus Short Stories or even Chapter excerpts from one of your other titles. We’ve done both options now in both our print and ebook versions of many of our titles. The stories range anywhere from 3000-15 000 words and for Chapter excerpts we usually do the first 2 Chapters, maybe 3. (It depends if it has a long-ish Prologue.) We like to provide extra bonuses to our readers but there are also times we do this for purely marketing reasons, I won’t lie.

For example, we could have a KDP Select free promo coming up so I’ll go in and adjust said title to include a Chapter excerpt from one of our bestselling titles or maybe a New Release. We’ve had freebies snag thousands of downloads so it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce readers to something completely new to them. Make sure you’re including something that makes sense though! A work by the same author would be ideal but if you can’t do that, then at least focus on the same genre.

 

In summary, this is something that can always change and you should! I’ve updated every single book E1 has in its catalogue numerous times. Sometimes it’s for arbitrary things like updating new web links to Amazon or throwing in Previews for KDP Select promos. This is one reason why ebooks are fantastic. They can always be changed and updated to reflect the trends in the industry. In the end find what works for you the best and stick with it. If anything, it should bring more exposure to you as an author and your titles as they continue to sell well into the future.

It may seem like a lot written down in a post like this but it’s really not, all of my stuff is about 3 pages total. I know I have read elsewhere of readers complaining about authors stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into the backs of their books but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Speaking of which, the reason the readers are complaining is because it offsets their reading completion percentages. If you have well over 20-25 pages of “ads” in the back of your book that’s going to have an effect on your percentages or locations of your book. Readers dislike seeing that they have pages upon pages to go and find out suddenly that the books is over!

I’d like to hear from you now. What do you find works best? Are you doing anything differently that I didn’t list?

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About Adam

Adam got his start in comics illustrating and colouring the book Shuddertown from Image Comics/Shadowline. He’s now concentrating his efforts on self-publishing and a larger move into writing novels and helping other authors get their work published. He recently launched his first small press publishing company, EnemyOne, which was realistically over 10 years in the making. He enjoys reading comic books and in particular old, pulpy, crime novels.

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