Author’s Notes: Another Terrific Opportunity!

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.) 

72 thoughts on “Author’s Notes: Another Terrific Opportunity!

  1. What an informative article! Debby Gies sent me here and I learned something new to incorporate. I’m sure I read author’s notes before – like you, I read every word written by an author in her/his book – but I never thought to include them in my own, upcoming travel memoir. Do they go in the beginning of the book or the end? My guess is the beginning, but how are they different from an introduction? I guess they don’t necessarily have anything to do with the story line, but more with curious tidbits and a personal way to connect to readers? Thanks for the insights!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Liesbet. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about Author’s Notes (like many things in the writing industry), but they are more often found at the end of the book, for several reasons. You might want to talk about things that the reader wouldn’t quite understand unless they’ve read the book first. For instance, a well known writer I’ve enjoyed often lets her readers know which places in her stories are real spots they can visit. I enjoyed her notes so much, I do the same in mine, among other things. If you write a story that takes a bit of “artistic license” with the actual history of a place, you would want to let them know something like that, too.

      As I mention in my post, a snow-white, blue-eyed alligator has an important role in one of my books, and I wanted to let readers know that they do exist. I took a few lines in my Author’s Notes to share that tidbit and explain the difference between leucistic and albino reptiles. I’ve had several people tell me how much they enjoyed learning more about some of the things that happened in my story.

      Really, they are YOUR notes, and you can use them to connect with your readers in many ways, depending on what you want to say. For myself, I have a Dedication page in the front of my books, and all the other extra material is in the back right after The End, in the following order: 1) Author’s Notes,
      2) Acknowledgments, and 3) About the Author (my bio and book list).

      Hope this gives you some ideas of various things you can talk about and methods of approach. Not everyone will read them, of course, but a lot (often MOST) will. And anything that creates a connection between you and your readers can only be a good thing. 😀

      Thanks to Debby for steering you this way. Glad you stopped by! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for your in-depth reply, Marcia. It all makes sense now. I guess Author’s Notes are new to me and I love that it’s another way to personalize your book and help readers connect with you as an author. Such a great idea!

        Liked by 2 people

      • So glad it helped, and I hope you’ll find wonderful ways to use Author’s Notes in your own books. They are fun to write, and readers are often very appreciative of them. Entertain them, make them smile, teach them something new, or share a bit about your writing processes. They’ll enjoy all of it. 🙂 Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Julie! I love connecting with my readers every chance I get, and the author’s notes gives me one more way to do so, on several levels. I hope you try it and enjoy offering that little bit extra to your readers. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment. Always great to hear what you’re thinking. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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  3. What great advice, Marcia. I’m definitely following your lead with my latest work. When I wrote the story, I researched extensively – the Middle East, China, Russia, and the existing political divides. It was a profoundly eye-opening process. I suspect many readers will have questions, and Author Notes is a perfect way to respond in advance. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are very welcome! I’m so glad you found the post helpful, Gwen. And you are already bursting with ideas that will make for an interesting and informative set of Author’s Notes! I know many of your readers will enjoy them, and possibly learn some things they never knew before. So glad to know you’re going to take advantage of them, as they really are a great opportunity that too many authors aren’t using to their advantage.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a few minutes to comment, and again, I’m super happy you found these ideas useful! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: A Deeper Look at Reader Guides | Story Empire

  5. Awesome post Marsh. Certainly some great food for thought, and I can absolutely see the value in author’s notes. Now, I’ll have to have a think on this. Perhaps a few photos. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • That could be fun, Debby. Honestly, I think it is entirely up to the creativity and skill of the author to decide how to use this valuable tool as the opportunity it is. There are no hard and fast rules about notes from the author, and I see them as very useful and full of possibility! Go for it! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! 🙂 Always good to hear from you! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Debby. Now that I’ve deleted my FB page, I don’t see a lot of what’s been shared, at least there, so I have to do a blanket thanks for anything shared there, and for the blogs I haven’t been able to keep up with. Hoping one of these days to get control of this stuff again! 😀 ❤

        Like

    • You might be surprised, Judith. I guess it could depend on the trad publisher you work with, but I have seen author’s notes in many, many traditionally published books. (I know for a fact that a certain series I’m eagerly re-reading as I await the next issue includes them, and they aren’t self-published books.) It would likely be difficult after the fact, except in a reprint maybe, but if it goes in with your Acknowledgements and Bio, etc, I really can’t imagine why it would be a problem. Let us know what you find out. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Those are wonderful tips, Marcia. I always read the author’s notes. Sometimes I read them before I read the book! I take inspiration from you. I’m 67 years old and dream of getting my first novel published when I’m 69!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Aww, that’s so nice, Janet! And if I can do it, so can you. I try to get that message out to readers and to all the local groups I meet with. And it applies to more than just writing, of course. I’m sending you much good luck in achieving your dream! And I’m very glad you enjoyed the suggestions for Author’s Notes. When you publish your book, I’m going to be sure to look at yours! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by today and letting us know your thoughts. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ve never included author notes. I guess I think of them more for historical or factual information than for fiction. I do include recipes at the back of Jazzi novels, and I write acknowledgements, but I’m going to have to look at notes at the end of fiction more and see what authors include. Interesting post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’ll be amazed at what some authors include. I love learning new things, and this is one way to do it. Plus the fun anecdotes some of them include really make me want to read more of their work. (If I’ve enjoyed the book I just finished, of course. The best author’s notes in the world won’t save a bad book. 😀 ) There is no limit to what you can use these for, really, so I hope you might consider adding them to some of your future work. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Judi, and for letting us know your thoughts.

      Like

  8. You know, I’ve read your Author Notes and found them fascinating (especially about Big Blue). but I’ve never thought to make my own as extensive as you suggest.
    Well I’m gonna rectify that, thanks Marcia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wooohoooo! A convert!! 😀 Oh, I can think of so many cool things you could do with your own, Debby. And don’t forget, you can always add them to books already published, too. Any time you have a chance to connect with readers is a great thing, I think. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do. Glad you liked the post, and thanks so much for taking the time to comment. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • My brain is already buzzing with things to add – largely things I’ve already written for blog guest posts, so the material is already available – and yes, I’m always tinkering with the the backmatter of my books, just as soon as I have the time I’ll tackle this round of adjustments!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m really glad to hear that, Debby, and that it won’t even be difficult for you to tackle. I’m so glad you stopped by today and gave us your thoughts! Thanks again!

        Like

    • You’re welcome, Jacquie, and I’m so glad you find this useful. I’m a firm believer in them obviously, and glad to know you’ve already been using them. If this gives you some ideas for new ways, I’m a happy camper! 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by today and taking the time to comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve always included a letter from me at the end where I thank them for reading and ask that they write a review. I share with them where I got the idea for the story. I also include the first chapter of another one of my books. But you’ve given me more ideas of things to include, and I thank you for that. I have two WIPs, so those will get much better letters (author notes). I may go back and spruce up the ones I’ve written for my other books. Another awesome post, Marcia! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Yvette! It doesn’t matter if you title them Author’s Notes, or Dear Readers, or Hey, You Guys! 😀 What matters is taking advantage of the opportunity to speak directly to your readers and offer them all kinds of tidbits and information. It sounds to me like you’re doing a great job with that, and I’m very happy you’ve gotten a few more ideas to include. (And btw, two WIPS in progress never fails to boggle my mind. I’m doing all I can with ONE! 😀 )

      So glad you stopped by to let me know how you’ve been doing this, and that you enjoyed the post. Thanks again! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m with you Marica I love author notes. The sad thing is not every author includes them. I always like it when an author takes the time to give the reader just a little bit more to enjoy. Thank you for this post it is filled with super ideas on notes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, John. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I’m even gladder to know you agree on how enjoyable author’s notes can be. It’s going to make My GRL even more fun for me to read, and it is VERY near the top of my TBR stack. 🙂 I truly do believe writers who don’t use them at all miss out on a great opportunity to make their readers happy, and to share lots of good stuff with them.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s okay, John. I’ll just look for them in the second book of yours I read! 😀 I know not everyone uses them, but I do truly think they are your chance for a one-on-one with each reader, and the uses are unlimited, pretty much. I’m actually excited at how many responses have been positive about this idea. 🙂

        Like

    • Thanks, Robbie. They’ve been very helpful to me in building a readership, as well as in learning more about my fellow writers and their books. I love them! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment, too. 🙂

      Like

  11. I’ve never given much thought to Author’s Notes, but I can see the usefulness of them. Readers want to feel a connection with the writer and Author’s Notes would be a great way to give them that! Thanks, Marcia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Jan. That’s exactly how I see it too, though the possibilities for ways to use these notes are almost limitless. Whatever works for an author and the book in question. But there’s not much doubt that using them effectively can really help build a relationship with your readers.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I’m glad it has given you something to consider. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Happy Wodin’s Day, y’all!! 😀

    Just wanted to give you a heads up that I’m today’s “poster girl” at Story Empire. Hope you’ll hop on over there and check out my thoughts on Author’s Notes and many of the ways writers can use them to connect with and inform their readers.

    I also hope you’ll consider sharing the post with all your friends on social media, so they can check it out, too. THANKS, and thanks to Story Empire for another opportunity to chat with folks!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I LOVE to read author notes! Like you, I discover so much about the author and/or the story. I haven’t used them in all of my books, but going forward I likely will. Because my Point Pleasant series included so much information that was either historical in nature, or gleaned from folklore, I took time to explain which parts of the series were fictional and which actually took place. Like you, with Big Blue, I had several readers comment afterward that they were surprised by some of the elements that were real.They also really liked learning the background of the series and my personal take on it.

    This was an excellent post, Marcia. Author notes are something writers may easily overlook, but as you said—they provide an excellent opportunity to connect with your reader!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae, and I agree on everything you just said. Author’s Notes are a Bully Pulpit, for sure, and you can use them in so many ways, it’s impossible not to find something worth including. If not about your book or the background, then about yourself. How you got the idea, or why you wanted to write about the topic. And you can keep it as light or as serious as you wish.

      You can’t beat them for connecting with your readers on a personal level, and it’s one reason why I always, ALWAYS read them, myself. I like understanding where the author is coming from, what parts of the story are true compared to what is purely the author’s imagination, and all those other things. And yes! I was absolutely gobsmacked (where have I heard that lately? 😀 ) that there was actually such a thing as BLUE people!! I would have thought you made that up for sure, had I not read differently in your notes.

      Author’s Notes: A short amount of time spent to gain unlimited value! That’s my story, an’ I’m stickin’ to it! 😀

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Mae! When it comes to books and reading, you and I think alike on SO many things! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve used mine to experiment, with varying degrees of success. I should go back and add details to those books that became a series, or where the characters earned an appearance in another book. It’s all time I haven’t wanted to spend. I’ve included a secret extra chapter after my author notes, that made it kind of like some recent superhero films. One time I included a sequence of Lisa Burton promo posters in the back. I put my notes in the middle of my short story collections, like an intermission. No telling what I might do in my section.

    Liked by 2 people

    • For myself, it never takes more than an extra hour to put mine together, though they sometimes get tweaked in editing. And to my mind, it’s time well spent if it intrigues, informs, or amuses my readers. With your assortment of characters (a motley crew, for sure, in the best sense of the word), you could do some really fun approaches to your own, in addition to the things you’ve already tried. I love your ideas so far (the posters are especially cool), and hope you’ll continue. Just think of a more structured one as another type of bonus chapter, only dealing with more than the actual story part of your book. Lisa could do one in her own voice, talking about your approach to writing, for instance. Your readers would love that! A page or so is all you need to give your readers another treat. Hope you’ll think about it.

      And thanks for taking the time to comment, and add some info on what you’ve been doing. You are one of the most creative and imaginative people I know, so I’ll be interested in anything you do going forward. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve published with and without informative notes. Always with the thanks and CTAs at the end, though. They are interesting to read, I think. If I liked a book enough to finish it, I’m going to be interested in a little more before I close it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Staci. I want to know more about the author than what’s included in the basic bio, and I definitely want to know if there are interesting facts pertaining to the story, or anecdotes about writing it that might be amusing or informative. I’m always disappointed when they aren’t there right after “THE END.” 😀 Thanks for taking time to comment today, Staci. Thinking about you and yours! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve used author notes in my three novels and a novella. Can’t imagine not doing it, although I guess there would be some occasions where they aren’t needed. I’m like you, I like to include real-life events in my stories. In my third novel, I briefly mention the Marfa Lights, a phenomenon similar to the Brown Mountain Lights. My first took place in the summer of 2011 when Texas was in the midst of a severe drought. I mention someone finding a piece of the space shuttle Columbia that had been in a lake ten years. The water level dropped so low it was visible for the first time since the explosion. As you suggested, I also use them to thank my readers, tell a bit about the story behind the book and/or mention something about the next novel. And yes, I read prologues and epilogues. They’re in the book for a reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kindred spirits on this one, Joan! You have the idea down pat, and are using it to good advantage. Readers can learn something they never knew before, and understand that you didn’t make it up for your book, and that’s a good thing. Plus, I believe it’s always important to thank your readers and give them a heads up as to what’s coming next. And yay for reading prologues and epilogues. They definitely have a purpose, trends or no trends, though I’ve taken to leaving out the title Prologue for those readers who are expecting a big info dump to set up the book. I just use the date/place as my header, and I keep them short. By the time they reach the end of the book, I hope they are involved enough to want to read the final wrap up, so I do call that one the Epilogue. 😀 And I’m behind on your books, darn it! This tidbit about the Columbia makes me want to jump in VERY soon.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, and I’m very happy you already use your Author’s Notes so well. I’m going to enjoy reading every one of them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now you’ve confused me. (Easy enough to do, for sure.) Did you mean “Prologue?” If so, then I get it. I tend to use my prologues as a set up for what’s to come, usually in a different time frame and starring an unknown character, so I don’t want to call them Chapter 1. But just having a date and time lets readers understand that it’s separate from the part of the story that begins with the first chapter. If it were in line with, or “starring” the same characters, I’d probably just start with Chapter 1, too, but that hasn’t been the case yet.

        For instance, in The Light, the prologue was a very short scene of a body being dumped off a mountain several months before the actual story begins, so in that case, I liked the idea of the date/time thing. But I don’t believe in hard and fast rules most of the time. They are usually just trends. And as with bell-bottomed pants and Nehru jackets, trends come and go, so we can hop on board or not, at our own discretion, I think. (And for those who don’t remember bell-bottomed pants and Nehru jackets, I wish I were as young as you! 😀 )

        Like

    • Take another look at my books, Trish. My Author’s Notes follow the Epilogue in all of them, so you can double check what I mean. And you’ll have to trust me that many, many authors use them very well. It’s a chance to learn more about the book and the author, and they are often very entertaining as well. Let me know what you think when you see what I mean, and also, what are they called in your part of the world? I’m sure this isn’t just an American thing, so it’s probably just that they go by another name. I’m very curious, and I’m glad you might find the idea useful. It’s a great chance to speak your piece on the subject of your book, or “bond” with your readers. (And another thought. It’s never too late to add them to your books already out, especially eBooks.)

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment. I never imagined the term might be unknown to some, so I’ve learned something new today, too. Yay! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Harmony! I just see these as a wonderful opportunity to build reader interest, and I don’t think they always have to be about something unusual in your book, though that certainly is the most common reason to use them. But even a “thanks for reading,” and a short anecdote, or update on what’s coming next can be useful for engaging your readers. I do understand that some genres might not work as well as others, but in general, I think they are an excellent place to sell yourself as well as your books.

      Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts today! 🙂

      Like

    • Both you and Trish mention this, and yet I’ve read books by writers from your corner of the world that include them. It makes me wonder what other name they may go by. They are usually at the end of the book, though, like Harmony, I’ve seen them in the beginnings once in a while, especially if there is something that needs to be explained before the story is read. I’ve used them in every one of my books, immediately following the Epilogue. And they’re listed in the Table of Contents, as well, in both eBook and print versions. Take a look, and you’ll see what I mean. And then, let me know what they are referred to in other places, if you would. I’m curious.

      Thanks for stopping by today, and taking a moment to comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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