MF 240 : Breaking down the back matter of your book
Updated: Jun 22
On this episode, I cover the last building block of your book, the back matter. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Part 1: The Tao of the three-act structure
I’m jumping ahead a little into my mini-series on podcasting, which I’ll do sometime in the future. Recently, I was asked about podcasting and it got me thinking about another question and comment I got when I launched this season of Moving Forward: why do I split up episodes into three parts?
If you’ve been following the show, you’ll know I now do a solo podcast with each episode split into three sections. Much like how I describe writing a book, my goal is to apply the BME structure of beginning-middle-end.
In part 1, I share something personal or a reflection on an event, an up or down in business or my personal life. This gives me a chance for you, the listener, to get to know a little about me. This section also allows me to provide updates on prior mini-series topics like Poshmark. I anticipate once I’m done with the book mini-series, I may do similar updates from time to time. Finally, part 1 serves as my warm up.
Part 2 is where I cover the substance of the mini-series. It’s the longest and most involved part of the show. Each of these sections builds upon the prior episode, giving it a serial format. Every week I share tips and bite-sized chunks on a larger topic. I also provide tools and homework assignments for those who are interested in following along.
Part 3 is where I share a book I’ve read. I do this because reading is a huge part of my life and it’s also a great social connector. I connect with people on Goodreads plus sharing what I’m reading helps me stay on task with my reading goals. Currently, I’m about 60% of the way through my year-end goal of 50 books.
I’d love to hear how you’ve changed the format of something you’ve been working on the past few years, be it a podcast, a blog or something else.
Part 2: Breaking down the back matter of your book
Last week, we deconstructed the front matter of the book. This week, we’re going to the other end: the back matter.
Flip open any book from your shelf and take a look at the back matter. Like the front, there are many components to this building block.
On Scrivener, you’ll typically see a separate folder for back matter in many of the templates or you can create one if you’re using Word and OneDrive.
Let’s take a look at some of the pieces:
This is what I call your “Academy awards” speech. It’s the section where you show your gratitude for the people who helped you along the way as you wrote your book. This may include people who helped with research, provided photos, as well as advisors, mentors, interns, interviewees (if applicable). Beyond that, you can give a shout out to a broader circle of people in your life such as family, friends, and others who may have lent an ear, a supporting voice, or simply been good sports during the all-consuming writing process. As I pointed out in the editor episodes, you should also carve out a special thank you to your editor as he or she does a lot of heavy lifting to help get your book into publishable shape.
Some authors will put the acknowledgments in the front matter, a trend I’m seeing more in recent books.
This is probably the hardest part of the back matter. The index is a section that has specific words, phrases, or names tagged with corresponding page numbers. You’ll typically find indices in research books, business books, technical manuals, and certain non-fiction books. You typically won’t find them in novels, short stories or poems. Before you pull your hair out, decide whether your book needs an index. Unless your book is a research of how to book where the reader may need to go back to a specific reference, it’s more of a luxury than a necessity, in which case, you may want to skip it. Unfortunately, Scrivener does not have an index create function as far as I know though Word does have that capability and there may be other platforms and apps out there that can as well. You can also do this by brute force by doing search and count but I don’t recommend this is as a good use of your time.
Create an index on Word
Some books, especially academic, scientific or research-based ones, will have a section listing out references and detailed explanatory notes.
This is a short section containing a few paragraphs about you, the author along with a headshot (optional). This is also a good place to put your book website and social media handles.
If you’re working on another book, you can insert a preview chapter as a teaser to let the reader know what’s next.
As with front matter, consider which pieces you want for your back matter. I recommend spending some time on deciding whether you really need an index. Look at the book you’re writing and let that guide you in your decision.
[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode and in the book writing series are out of print. I am leaving these episodes mostly as is and strictly for informational and instructional purposes only. I have retracted my story from the book discussed in this episode and its sequel with full reservation of my copyright. For more, check out episode 388.]
Part 3: What I’m reading
Elevation by Stephen King (***): This is a novella about a graphic designer in a small New England town who is experiencing daily weight loss while maintaining the same body mass. Meanwhile, he’s dealing with an increasingly awkward relationship with his neighbors, a same-sex couple that owns a local restaurant, and his physician friend who can’t make heads or tails of his condition. This is not a typical King horror novel but more of a slice of life story set in a small town that focuses on interpersonal relationships. As usual King has a gift for writing compelling characters and here each are intriguing though the plot is a bit thin. Overall, a quick, enjoyable read.
Scrivener (available for Mac, Win, IOS) is a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go-to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase (for Mac or Win). It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, Win, IOS.
Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.
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