author note

An Author Note: Setting Your Book Up for Success

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

July 3, 2023

Do you need an author note in your book? Writing a book gives authors the chance to reveal stories and characters resulting from their imagination and creativity while authoring nonfiction books provides writers with a chance to inform readers about ideas, research, and maybe even the author’s own opinions.

But no place offers a writer a more authentic vehicle to speak directly to the reader than the author note, tucked away in the front matter of a book.

What Is an Author Note?

A writer has the opportunity to talk directly to the reader in the author note where they can give the reader background about the book’s creation and their process as a writer. This unique section gives authors the chance to give readers a peek behind the writing curtain. But while there is no hard and fast rule governing how it must look, most authors choose to follow a pattern to present this information to readers.

And writers also tend to adhere to a short list of what not to do as well since this direct communication with readers is a permanent part of an author’s book. Not every author chooses to include an author note in their book, but this option is a perfect way for readers to get to know the craft and motivation of newer authors.

Ways to Use an Author Note

Authors include notes so they can communicate more to their readers other than what they have included in the body of the book. Most writers will use an author note to discuss the book itself, themselves as writers, and to express appreciation.

But an author note provides the writer with a unique avenue to connect directly with the reader in a meaningful and memorable way not available in most other mediums or channels, since the author note will always be a part of the publication. Four types of content are typically present in an author note, and each has its purpose and function.

Clarify Content

The primary content that authors use in an author note is to provide clarity about their book’s contents. Books with a unique backstory or some connection to real-life events can be explained on a note page, providing context for readers to better understand and appreciate the book they are about to read.

An interesting setting in a story might be best described to the reader outside of the pages of the story and an author can even give readers a heads-up about explicit material or other content that might be confusing or controversial in the book.

Inform Readers of Upcoming Books

Is your book the first in a planned series or the sequel to a previous book? Providing this type of information about your book can help readers new to your work better understand the context of the story and help them to see the bigger picture.

An author note is a perfect place to let readers know about upcoming books, because knowing that characterizations and plot arcs might continue into a future book will help readers to enjoy the story as they read it while looking for the bigger picture.

Explain Your Writing Inspiration

Many times topics, stories, or parts of a book are inspired by something outside of the author. Letting readers know who or what stirred you to include that information in your book can be interesting as well as provide them with some insight into you as a writer.

If you are a new author, telling the reader directly how your book came about can help you to gain fans because personalizing your work makes you more than just a name on the jacket of a book. When readers see who you are and how you think, they feel more connected to you when you pique their interest with a compelling connection to your craft.

Give Thanks

Some books include a formal acknowledgments page either in the front or back matter of the book, but many authors choose to thank those that contributed to their book’s contents in some way within the author note page.

Thanking those who helped you bring your book to print is a great way to give a shout-out to your fans and readers, recognize other authors or literary professionals who provided you with meaningful support, and thank your family and friends who helped you bring your book to print.

How to Write an Author Note for Your Book

Compiling an author note to use in your book doesn’t have to be complicated but the first step is determining what you want to accomplish with the note. New authors may want to focus their notes on aspects that will help readers understand them as an author.

By focusing on what inspired them to write this book as well as thanking those that helped the author bring their first book to print, readers can come alongside a new author’s writing journey and join in on the “ground floor” of their audience. More experienced writers may want to focus in on how this book ties into a larger series or connects past or future characters or themes in their writing to excite current fans and pique the interest of readers new to their work.

For some writers, combining all four components into a longer note makes sense as well. Whatever you decide to include in your note, a few writing tips will help you craft a winning note that your readers will love and that will also bring value to your book and your brand as an author.

  • Make it Original: The note is not a place for spoilers and readers don’t want to see content that will be repeated later in the pages of the book. Anything you include in the note should be written especially for the author note and it should provide additional bonus content and context for readers to enjoy.
  • Make it Personal: Use this space to bring your voice to the page so your readers can connect with you as an artist rather than through the voices of your book’s characters. Use 1st person to keep it personal by addressing readers as “you” and yourself as “I.”
  • Make it Positive: The author note is not the place to complain about your struggles as an author or to rant about anything whether it is related to the book or not. A negative note can leave readers with a poor impression of you as an author and could lead to negative reviews by confused readers.
  • Make it Relevant: Keep the contents of the note clearly connected to the work you have done on the book in some way so that readers can easily feel and understand the connection. Penning a note that references another book (that the audience may not have read) will feel jumbled and out of place. Relevant information also should not be too personal because including your opinion on controversial subjects, details about your life, or your hobbies or interests will seem out of place to readers who are expecting supplemental information to the book they are about to read.
  • Make it Short and Sweet: Readers should see the note as bonus content that will enhance their experience with the book rather than a lengthy addition to the book they are about to read. Notes that drone on can also confuse readers into thinking that the author’s additional writing is part of the story rather than an addition to the book, so keep the length reasonable.

Do You Need an Author Note?

Deciding whether or not your next book would benefit from an author note is something all authors do when finalizing their book for printing. Some authors may choose to pen a brief note touching on one key element like explaining the back story of their novel while some authors skip it altogether.

But most authors that include one take the opportunity to engage readers with interesting content that will enhance the reader’s experience while providing a peek behind the curtain of their personal writing and authorship. If your note will give readers inside information about you as an author, your writing process, the book’s contents, or the future of related books, then you should consider including it in your book’s front matter.

Preparing Your Book for Printing

Writing a note for your book’s front matter is usually a relaxing way to wrap up the typically lengthy process of writing a book and preparing the manuscript for printing.

But once your book is ready to be published, be sure to partner with a trusted printing partner like Publishing Xpress so the final step of becoming a published author will be seamless. Working with self-published authors for decades, Publishing Xpress can help you transform your manuscript into a beautifully printed book that you and your readers will love.

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