Image: Matthew Loffhagen
In this article I’ll be listing 5 extras you need to include in the back of your book, and exactly what they can do for you.
Authors have more control over their marketing than they’ve ever had before, and just because the reader has already purchased your book doesn’t mean the marketing opportunities have ended.
Remember that as an author your name is a brand. It’s great that someone has been interested enough to reach the back of your book, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still chances to sell them on your brand.
The first entry on the list is the most obvious, but also one of the most crucial.
5. Website / Email list
One of the easiest ways to form a relationship with your reader is to involve them in your online presence. The back of your book should make it easy for readers to find you online, whether that be through your official site, Facebook, Twitter or any other kind of social media.
Once a reader engages with you online they’re choosing to follow your progress, which means the next time you have a product to sell they’ll know about it. Managing your online content will also ensure you remain at the front of their mind, increasing word of mouth and brand awareness.
Getting a reader to join your email list is a big deal, and you can read here about incentives that will persuade them to sign up. There’s simply no other way to appeal to all of your readers, so don’t pass up the unique opportunity.
Not including ways to sign up to your email list or find you online in the back of your book ignores perhaps the best way of attracting the kind of constant audience most authors would kill for. The ideal time to invite a reader to engage with you online is when they’ve just finished your book and are at the peak of their awareness of you as an author.
It’s also the best time to suggest what they might want to read next.
4. Other works
Presenting a catalogue of your work right when a reader is experiencing maximum engagement with your brand is brilliant marketing. Everything they enjoyed about your writing is still fresh in their mind and a lot of readers feel a little sad when they reach the end of a good story.
It’s a simple case of advertising to an audience who are at their most receptive, and are already holding your marketing tool.
The more information you can give the better. A list of titles might interest your reader, but a few brief synopses turns the back of your book into a luxury item. Readers can sit back and flick through your range, deciding which they want to try next.
One of the side benefits of an ‘other works’ catalogue is that it subtly changes the reader’s perception of your brand, inviting them to connect with you as an author rather than with your book as a single work. A reader who likes a single book has a good relationship with that book, but a reader who likes your authorial brand has a good relationship with every book you’ll ever write. Author Markus Zusak is known primarily as the author of The Book Thief, while someone like Eoin Colfer is more of a brand with many books to his name. Even if the catalogue doesn’t tempt them to buy straight away, it does present you as a professional author.
Of course there are other methods you can employ to get readers interested in you.
3. Afterword / Thanks
An afterword can be tricky, but if done right it takes the reader’s enjoyment of your story and converts it to enthusiasm for your overall brand.
Your afterword is a chance for you to present yourself as an author. To draw back the curtain and attach an identity to the experience your reader just concluded. Taking the opportunity to thank loved ones or colleagues is more than a nice gesture; it draws the reader’s attention to your brand.
The existence of an author is ignored during the story as part of the reader’s necessary suspension of disbelief, but there’s nothing wrong with reminding them of your existence afterwards. The afterword serves as a gentle reminder that as unique as the story felt, their enjoyment of your work doesn’t have to stop with one book.
That isn’t to say the afterword is entirely divorced from the story: finishing a grisly murder story with a heartfelt thank you to your cat creates a conflicting mood. The perfect afterword should be short, with a simple message in-keeping with the mood of the book.
The afterword is a subtle reminder, but there’s nothing wrong with being more direct.
2. Request for reviews
Word of mouth is incredibly important for books, even if it’s just the number of results that pop up when someone Googles your title.
A short note asking for reviews is an easy way to stir people into action and increase your visibility. Reviewers are people too, and many will enjoy being invited to review a book by the author. It’s also the case that reviews breed reviews: if you target a popular website or publication asking for reviews they’ll most likely check how many there are from other sources as a way of gauging your popularity.
There’s no need to commit an entire page to review requests, as anyone considering a review is already on the lookout. A simple sentence such as ‘I’m always glad for reviews and interviews, and can be reached at…’ will do.
Useful though they are, review requests aren’t the only way you can use the back of your book to attract new readers.
1. Book club discussion points
If people want to discuss your book then you should do everything in your power to help them. In fact book club discussion points make it more likely that groups will choose to read your work, as some book clubs prefer reading books with an existing framework. Even if this isn’t the case it’ll certainly never hurt your chances. Not only do book clubs increase your readership, they encourage people to really engage with you as an author.
Include questions that will help readers get more from the story. Some copies of Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin contain reading group discussion points which ask the readers to explain their perception of characters’ thoughts and motives, as well as asking if things would have worked out differently had key details been changed.
Don’t be afraid to take on a non-authorial persona and ask about your own writing style and influences. If you were inspired by a particular genre or work then ask the readers if they saw those connections, and what they thought of them.
The great thing about book clubs is that discussion only stops when time runs out. Get members really thinking about your work and they’ll take their opinions home, advertising you to their children, spouses and household pets.
Of course discussion points aren’t just for book clubs, and many readers will take advantage of this resource to engage more deeply with your work on their own.
The Kitchen Sink
The back of your book is a brief window outside of the story where you have a captive audience interested in what you have to say. As long as you stick to the spirit of what’s come before it’s difficult to go wrong.
Whether it’s items from the above list, a preview of your upcoming work or an interview you think shows what you’re about, take the opportunity to give your audience as much bonus content as you can. Anything you can offer your readers will help in creating an author/reader relationship and establishing your brand, as well as making your readers feel valued.
Of course people are more likely to see what’s in the back of your book if they like the look of the front, so check out Get your book cover right… or lose sales for advice on what attracts readers to books on the shelf. Or if you’re wondering how best to present yourself as an author try 5 Crucial Tips To a Better ‘About the Author’ Page.
Is there a book that wowed you with its end content, or one that really let you down? Either way, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.