Book Matter. Does it Matter?
What exactly is book matter? Front matter or back matter, it includes everything that is not your actual manuscript pages. In fiction it may include the following.
Author Letter to the Reader
Reader Discussion Questions
Excerpts of your next novel (or someone else's novel)
Every publisher is different and the book matter varies.Let's talk about a few of my favorites.
The dedication isn't the same at the acknowledgment. It is usually preceded by the words to or for. I think of dedications as a small window into the soul of the writer.
"For Colin Firth–You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends."
Shannon Hale, Austenland
"To my wonderful readers: Sorry about that last cliffhanger. Well, no, not really. HAHAHAHA! But seriously, I love you guys." The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
And of course Neil Gaiman's now famous dedication in Anansi Boys:
"You know how it is. You pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you.
Not this time.
Because we haven’t yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven’t seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other….
This one’s for you.
With you know what, and you probably know why.
Whether found in the front of the book or the back of the book the acknowledgement page is basically a thank you letter from the writer.
However..not everyone feels as I do. There are those who believe an acknowledgement is like an Oscar's acceptance speech and shorter and more succinct the better. The New Yorker calls it a "gratuitous supplement to the dedication page."
I disagree. To me, the acknowledgement is a form of social media. It's a way to connect with readers and share your humanity and let the reader know where you are coming from. It's also a glimpse into the writer's life and I am grumpy and disappointed when the acknowledgements are skimpy.
A note of acknowledgement wisdom-keep track of who you want to thank as you write the book. Don't try to remember those important people at the end when your brain is fried. You will forget someone, as I have, and then of course you have to write more books that they can help you with, which can be time consuming (ah...kidding on that point.)
Then there's Nelson Demille's acknowledgement in Wild Fire....
“…There is a new trend among authors to thank every famous people for inspiration, non-existent assistance, and/or some casual reference to the author’s work. Authors do this to pump themselves up. So, on the off chance that this is helpful, I wish to thank the following people: the Emperor of Japan and the Queen of England for promoting literacy; William S. Cohen, former secretary of defense, for dropping me a note saying he liked my books, as did his boss, Bill Clinton; Bruce Willis, who called me one day and said, “Hey, you’re a good writer”; Albert Einstein, who inspired me to write about nuclear weapons; General George Armstrong Custer, whose brashness at the Little Bighorn taught me a lesson on judgement; Mikhail Gorbachev, whose courageous actions indirectly led to my books being translated into Russian; Don DeLillo and Joan Didion, whose books are always before and after mine on bookshelves, and whose names always appear before and after mine in almanacs and many lists of American writers—thanks for being there, guys; Julius Caesar, for showing the world that illiterate barbarians can be beaten; Paris Hilton, whose family hotel chain carries my books in their gift shops; and last but not least, Albert II, King of the Belgians, who once waved to me in Brussels as the Royal Procession moved from the Palace to the Parliament Building, screwing up traffic for half an hour, thereby forcing me to kill time by thinking of a great plot to dethrone the King of the Belgians.
There are many more people I could thank, but time, space, and modesty compel me to stop here."
Author Letter to the Reader
The reader letter is the author's opportunity to speak directly to the reader and share a little insight into the writing of the book. Not just sharing why you wrote the book but also sharing the journey of the book creates an intimate conversation between you and the reader. It's also where you thank them for getting to this part of the book matter. It means they read the book. Please don't rush this love letter to your audience. They often include story **spoilers** which is why they're at the back of the book.
Here's my reader letter for Mending the Doctor's Heart, my 2014 Carol Award winning release.
Welcome to Paradise. I hope you enjoyed Ben and Sara’s story. They’re head smart physicians who must learn to listen to their spirit and the leading of the Lord, who will never let them down. As we all do, they find themselves struggling with fear and condemnation and getting a little lost on the path to God’s perfect plan for their lives. During those times we are the most confused, the answer is simple: trust in the Lord for the answer.
I never actually planned to write a medical story, but now that I look back, I think all my stories, published and unpublished, have a medical thread. I just didn’t realize it.
When the editors at Love Inspired asked me to consider writing a book with a medical theme, I knew I was ready.
Drop me a line and let me know what you think. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through my website, www.tinaradcliffe.com.
There you have my thoughts on these elements of book matter. But the question remains..
What do you think? Does book matter...MATTER?