Blog Series – Step #3
How to Ace Your Acknowledgments, Back Matter & More
Happy Spring, readers! It’s been a long winter up here in the Northeast, with temperatures ranging all over the place lately. Just a few weeks ago we experienced a mid-February tease in which the temps climbed to the upper 60s, but then winter made a late reappearance and we were slammed with 22 inches of snow! Our fingers are finally defrosted enough to continue our blog series.
So here it is: the third step in our indie author self-publishing experience. During this installment of “A Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Your Book,” we’ll discuss how to write an acknowledgments page, along with how to write an author bio for a self-published novel. We’ll also explain how to write back matter for your novel. In our previous post, we discussed how to find cover art for your self-published book, which is an important precursor to this step – if you missed that, check it out here.
While these are some of the more tedious aspects of self-publishing your book, they mustn’t be overlooked, so you might as well go ahead and check them off your list now. They’ll go quickly and should be (relatively) painless. Taking the time to do these tasks correctly is what will separate your novel from one that looks like a beginner’s (even if it’s your first book ever!).
So, let’s get right into it.
This is the make-or-break text that will either encourage your readers want to flip to your first page, or put your book back down – for good. Thus, as you can imagine, it’s critical that your back matter is not only flawless, but also so compelling that your potential reader simply can’t walk away without your book in their hands (or, for that matter, on their Kindle).
One of the things you’ll likely struggle with (we know we did!) is determining how much to give away. The right answer is, of course, “just enough,” but being the person closest to your novel, it will be hard for you to determine how much that is. Do your best to forget how the story unfolds for a moment. Now, ask yourself: what would you need to know about this book in order to purchase it?
Most importantly, it’s almost always better to be cautious in terms of how much you reveal. Have you ever gotten a third of the way through a novel and felt that the “surprise” you were supposed to be excited for really wasn’t a surprise at all, since a major clue (or worse, the event itself!) was revealed on the back matter? Don’t make that mistake. Instead, make your reader work for it. Let them know that the train to Exciting Story Town is leaving, and if they don’t jump aboard, they’re going to miss out. Don’t tell them too much about what awaits them there – give them just enough to purchase the “ticket.”
As always, it’s a good idea to confer with your beta reader(s). They may have some helpful suggestions about your back matter, too.
Hint: If you’re doing it correctly, you will have revised your back matter many times. Again, do what authors do best: write the “throw up” draft; leave it, and come back to it. You’ll find some things to tweak. Repeat the process until there’s nothing left to change. Unless you’re a pair of authors – then one of you will undoubtedly always have something to alter!
As a writer, this should come fairly easy to you. After all, you’re quite familiar with your subject here! Be genuine, authentic, and pick one or two standout features to highlight. Keep it brief and succinct, but bury within the text (at least) part of the reason why you’ve written the book. If your protagonist is a city dweller, you can mention the fact that you were born and raised in the Big Apple. Feel free to be as funny, amusing, and different as you see fit – this is the beauty of self-publishing! As indie authors, we are all unique. Let your soul shine in your bio.
The author bios either go at the end of your book (if it has a soft cover) or on the back flap (if it’s hardcover).
It’s more than likely that you have one specific individual to whom you would like to dedicate your book. If not, be like Joan Rivers (in her Diary of a Mad Diva, the dedication read, “This book is dedicated to Kanye West, because he’ll never f***’in read it”) – just kidding; don’t do that! But in all seriousness, there’s no reason you couldn’t dedicate your book to someone who inspired you – even if it’s a famous author, musician, etc.
Conversely, if you have too many people to whom you’d like to dedicate your book:
The dedication page goes opposite your copyright page. The copyright page follows a simple format which you can follow here. By the way, authors: don’t forget to copyright your work and purchase an ISBN!
Most print books have one blank page as soon as you open them, followed by a title page. After that comes the copyright page and the acknowledgment page. Depending on your preferred style, you may have one more title page before the text actually begins. Many authors choose to include one here to let the readers know this is the starting point of the content.
Lastly, but certainly not least, it’s a good idea to thank any individuals who have played a role in your self-publishing journey. (Don’t forget – this can also include individuals who have put up with your extended absences!) The acknowledgments page follows your last page of text and starts on the next right-hand side page.
Of course, it’s always helpful to take a look at the books you have and see what fellow authors have done. Use a format that looks professional but will still appeal to your readers. Don’t forget to tell your readers where to find you online; if you have a print book, include your website, and if it’s an eBook, include a link to your site directly in the text.
In general, formatting an eBook tends to be less complex than formatting for a paperback or hard cover copy. To make your book look polished, you’ll want to ensure all of the pages are facing the proper direction (you’d never have a copyright page on the right-hand page, for instance). Here is the YouTube tutorial we’ve used for all three of our novels – be sure to bookmark that link, as it is invaluable for achieving a professional look with your novel!
That’s it for now, fellow readers and writers! Write on, and let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to cover in an upcoming blog!