Hi, Everybody! Marcia here, popping in from the Sunshine State. Hope you are all well and managing to cope with these difficult and confusing times, yet still finding the focus and drive to write.
Since I’d much rather be cheering for things I like than ranting and raving about those I don’t, you might already have guessed how I feel about Author’s Notes. Yep. I’m all in favor of them. Why? Because they present a huge opportunity for writers to communicate directly with their readers.
Author’s Notes can be useful, informative, and fun, and while (as always) some readers won’t check them out, many others will. That means you have the floor to talk about any number of things, all of which can inform, explain, entertain, educate, and even amuse your readers above and beyond what they’ve just read in your book. Entertained and amused readers are happy, and to my mind, nothing should be more important to an author than a happy reader.
HAPPY READERS ARE WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!
I’m one of those readers who checks out every single word an author decides to include in his or her book. I figure there was something they wanted to say when they wrote those words and I’m going to find out what. Thus, I’ve learned some interesting, amazing, and often funny things over the years via all manner of author’s notes. I’ve also learned that many writers aren’t taking advantage of the chance to use them to full effect, and that’s the focus of today’s post.
Of course, this is one more of those things that each writer will decide for themselves, and differences of opinion on the merits of good and informative author’s notes are fine. That’s why the freezer at Publix contains a kajillion different ice creams, after all—so there’s something for everyone.
With that in mind, let’s get down to the nitty gritty, namely a few of my favorite ways author’s notes can be utilized to the writer’s advantage. Use them to:
- Thank your readers for going choosing your book, and tell them how much you appreciate them.
- Tell readers what events, people, or imaginings inspired the book.
- Share details and information on specific issues covered in your book, especially things that readers might not be personally familiar with. (A few examples from my own works include health issues–strokes, mental and emotional problems, PTSD, amputation, physical therapy, counseling–and criminal acts/legal issues.)
- Let your readers know which places, people, and critters in your book really exist, and which are products of your imagination.
- Discuss your research into subjects vital to your story. Be it historical, criminal, or medical, readers will see you’ve done your homework.
- Let readers know whether there will be more books in a series, and/or what’s coming up next.
- Tell readers if you’ve included a teaser to your next book.
- Explain the importance of reviews and request that readers consider leaving one.
- Include a list of your available books and a link to your Author Page on Amazon.
Those last two can be included in your author’s notes or set apart.
I’ve seen it done both ways, but I’d suggest setting them apart
so they are less likely to be overlooked.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM AUTHOR’S NOTES
I always read Forwards, Prologues, Epilogues, Author’s Notes, Bios, and Acknowledgements (though I admit if that last one is just a long stream of names, I tend to skim it pretty quickly). It’s absolutely amazing what I’ve learned from reading each of these–most especially the author’s notes–though now and then, what I learn is that some authors are far better at them than others.
Overall however, I’ve found out a great deal about such things as characters based on real people, exotic locales, various unusual illnesses, serial killers (real or imagined), courtroom procedures, surgical procedures, distant or unusual habitats, animals I’ve never seen, and so much more. The list goes on and on, because every set of author’s notes is different.
I’ve also laughed at anecdotes on just about every topic you can imagine. Those laughs go a long way toward making an author seem friendly and relatable, both of which encourage me to check out more of their books. These are things I’d like my readers to feel, too, and feedback from those who have read and enjoyed my own author’s notes tells me that most of the time, they’re working like I want them to.
My Riverbend series is set in Florida, where a lifetime of canoeing, birding, and camping has given me a fair amount of up close and personal knowledge about our wildlife and wild places. I like to include things of that nature (see what I did there? 😀 ) in my books. And I always want to be sure readers know that where the natural world is concerned, I do not make anything up. No need to, really. It’s cool enough on its own.
For instance, when I decided to include a magnificent, solid white leucistic alligator with baby blue eyes in one of my Riverbend books, I took the opportunity in my author’s notes to explain that they are very real, though extraordinarily rare. I’ve had several people tell me they assumed I’d invented him until they read my notes, but Big Blue was not a figment of my imagination. And my author’s notes were a good place to share some interesting tidbits about white alligators, both albino and leucistic, with my readers.
Of course, my notes for my Florida series are very different from the ones I write for my North Carolina series, but both include things I hope readers enjoy learning, especially about real places and phenomena, such as the mystery of North Carolina’s Brown Mountain Lights.
The bottom line is, your author’s notes are your own bully pulpit, and there are many ways to use them to your advantage. If you haven’t been doing so already, I heartily recommend you give them a try. Or maybe you use them, but haven’t thought about ways to jazz yours up a bit more, if need be. It’s worth the extra time to do a good job on them, since many of your readers will enjoy them and feel more connected to you and your books. And surely that can only be a good thing, right?
Hope you’ll take a few minutes to chime in with your thoughts on author’s notes. Do you use them regularly? (If not, are you now considering doing so?) What types of things do you usually include? Are you considering adding some additional interesting tidbits or amusing anecdotes? Inquiring minds wanna know!
And that’s it for today. Thanks so much for reading. I’ll be back soon with another in my Why Write Wrong series, but as usual, there will be lots more going on here at Story Empire between now and then, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!
Now it’s time to go forth with joy in your heart, because joyful writers produce the very best work and some of the most entertaining author’s notes out there. Write happy!
(All images above were created by me or obtained from Pixabay.)