Why Your Book Front and Back Matter DOES Matter!
When it comes to your ebook, the front and back matter is a practical place to continue the relationship you made with your audience. If you’ve done your job well, your readers will want to learn more about you, your future books, and other ways to engage with you. In the new age of digital self-publishing, the end of your book needs to contain the same content marketing, keywords, and branding that you use (or should be using) to make yourself visible all over the digital media space.
Careful and strategic planning of your front and back matter is critical. I can’t overstate that you are missing a major opportunity if you do not take full advantage of the back and front matter of your book. If your reader enjoyed your book, they will explore every resource that you include.
POWER TIP: Do not be tempted to disrupt the reader’s engagement by linking to sales or marketing material in the body of the book. Leave this for the front and back of the book.
For digital books, keep the front matter spare. The primary reason to move everything to the back, other than the required copyright page and the table of contents, is your “Look Inside” and downloadable sample. Your sample is typically 10 percent of your book. You don’t want the majority of that sample to be blank pages, title pages, a picture of you, or ten pages of acknowledgments. You want the reader to dive right in so they see how amazing your book is and buy right away.
The end is the place to include your heartfelt acknowledgments, list your other books for sale, tell readers about your services or products, and include links to your mailing list, all your social media, and your website. Write a letter to your readers and tell them what your future release plans are. Make the material fun and interactive with the intention of capturing your audience so you can keep in touch and sell more books, products, or services.
An opt-in should be the very next action your reader takes after they finish the last page. Pow! Put an offer that can’t be refused on the page after the end of the text. This will be in the form of a link to a landing page with an opt-in form to your mailing list. Offer an incentive, for example, a few chapters of your next title, a quiz that tests the retention of what your new fan has just read, or a worksheet or next steps checklist. You can even link to a sales page for an online course the reinforces what your reader learned from your book. The point is, now is the time to ask. This reader is committed; they have finished your book after all.
There are many email marketing services on the market. However, ConvertKit is the most affordable option for authors. Your ability to create multiple giveaways and incentives is unsurpassed by other similarly priced email management software on the market. ConvertKit’s email automation design is highly sophisticated, yet easy to set up. The segmentation features are as advanced as any email services that cost ten times the ConvertKit subscription price.
Website and Author Central
Link to your author website. Design, or have created for you, a simple above-the-fold funnel featuring either your book cover or a headshot. Have pages for your bio, blurb, and other sales copy. Some nice additional features are a book trailer video, a review slider, or an “other products or services” slider.
If you are unable to create a website, at the very least, link to your Author Central page on Amazon.
Share all your social media links. At the very least, link to a Facebook or LinkedIn page. Build a more powerful connection to your audience with a dynamic presence in discussion groups, or with YouTube videos, podcasts, or blog syndication.
You have the content to share—you are an author after all—so you should take advantage of the visibility and new audiences social media can earn for you by sharing your message and brand it in as many ways as you can. However, I want to point out that many writers disagree with me, in particular, novelists. Social media and digital marketing can be daunting for authors. After all, there is plenty to do if we want to produce a couple of books per year.
Opponents of platform building assert that writers should spend their time where they are comfortable, writing books. I argue that growth does not come from staying comfortable. However, I agree that social media or publicity can overtake the primary objective of your career if you are not aware of what that objective is. Personally, I have been guilty of being so focused on keeping my audience engaged that I neglected to write books to sell. A good business plan and an editorial schedule is your protection against spinning your wheels while creating a platform.
Frontispiece, colophon, epigram – these words conjure misty visions gliding, leather, ink, and linen. However, like most industries, publishing has been irrevocably changed by the digital age. With the advent and new legitimacy of online publishing, the front and back of your book are now where you direct your readers to engage more with your personal story and work.