What Should Be in the Back Matter of a Book?

The “Your Questions Answered” Series


Can you provide tips for what should go in the front or back matter pages that authors produce, such as:
*author notes
*source citations in nonfiction

Acknowledgments are optional but always appreciated by those acknowledged. Agents are often left off the acknowledgments list, believe it or not. Simply think about your team: critique partners, editors, your agent—anyone who is on your side and truly happy for you. You can say a sentence or even a phrase about each person or group. Acknowledgments usually appear in the back of the book and can be lengthy. Your editors and agent don’t mind being acknowledged every time.

A book dedication appears in the front matter of the book. Here is a great place to honor someone who has offered you exceptional help and encouragement.

Acknowledgments and dedications are optional.

Author notes, too, are optional. These can include why the author wrote the book or anything unique an author wants the reader to know. For example, an author writing about an Amish community might relate how she grew up Amish, lives near the community she chooses to portray, or other reasons why she appreciates the Amish way of life.

Source citations in nonfiction aren’t any more mysterious now than they were when all of us wrote term papers for school. Whenever an author uses a source, the source needs to be cited, whether quoted directly or paraphrased.

Citations may be footnotes on the pages where quoted or endnotes gathered at the back of the book. All the souces may then be compiled in a bibliography, another possible element of back matter.

Your turn:

Who are you the most excited about remembering in your book?

Did you name characters after people you love?

For the entire series, click here: “Your Questions Answered.”

9 Responses to What Should Be in the Back Matter of a Book?

  1. Avatar
    DAMON J GRAY October 15, 2020 at 5:43 am #

    I’ve acknowledged everyone whose fingerprints are on my work, because I don’t view it as mine alone. Everyone has a hand in this, and when it sells it will be everyone’s success and blessing. In that way, I mildly object when I hear or read people speaking of “my book.” The truth is, it is “our book.”

  2. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver October 15, 2020 at 5:44 am #


    You and the others at Steve Laube Agency give us such helpful information. Thanks! I am printing this and adding it to a resource folder, so I can refer back to it as I get my WIP ready to submit.

  3. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 15, 2020 at 6:00 am #

    Whom to omit, whom to mention,
    that’s a fearsome task,
    for some might not desire attention;
    some do, but fear to ask
    even when they are deserving
    of a limelight place
    after in pre-pub dark a-serving
    with such smiling grace.
    If could I’d name them all,
    and I know this might sound rottten,
    but peering back down memory’s hall,
    there are names I have forgotten,
    and that failing truly lets me see
    that my success is not ’bout me.

  4. Avatar
    Abby Martin October 15, 2020 at 6:10 am #

    In my book, this is an odd story.
    In 2017, my pastor said, “Abby, you’re a millennial”.
    It hurt and it angered me.
    I planned many ways I could prove him wrong. But instead, God spoke through him, little did I know. I ended up writing an entire book on generational labels because of what he said!
    I’ll never say in my book who called me a millennial, because I don’t want to humiliate him. But, I will dedicate the book to him by calling him, “the person who called me a millennial”
    The dedication ends with this:
    I planned on someday proving you wrong. Instead, you led me to what’s right.

    • Avatar
      Audra Sanlyn October 15, 2020 at 6:25 am #

      I love this, Abby. Interesting how God can use even the hurt to inspire our writing.

      • Avatar
        Abby Martin October 15, 2020 at 7:22 am #

        Audra! Hey! Thanks! I look forward to seeing you at tomorrow’s webinar! 😊

  5. Avatar
    Audra Sanlyn October 15, 2020 at 6:21 am #

    I most look forward to thanking my husband and family for their support while writing this story. My husband, who helped with the kids so I could have quiet time to research and write. My parents, who listened to me spout off abortion statistics and vent so I could write with clarity. There are many I look forward to acknowledging.
    I didn’t name any characters after people I know because I knew personalities and physical attributes would creep into the story. I wanted to keep the characters as fictional as possible.

  6. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson October 15, 2020 at 7:29 am #

    Wow! You just answered questions I’ve had filed away in the back of my mind as I wait for a contract. I’m surprised agents are left out of the acknowledgments. To me, those should be the top names listed.

  7. Avatar
    Kristen Joy Wilks October 15, 2020 at 11:15 am #

    As a reader, I love to discover behind the story info. Like in The Skeleton Tree where the author reveals that as a boy, he sailed all over the coastline along Alaska and once came upon an ancient skeleton tree (coffins were placed in the branches to honor the dead instead of in the earth) that he was never able to find again. So amazing! Right now, I’m outlining a NaNo project that uses the real story of our big doggy’s reaction when my husband went through the bank drive through but forgot to get her a bank treat! She refused to even look at him the rest of the ride. So, my children’s story about forgiveness will have a hint of a real story woven in and I think that eventually my readers will want to know about Princess Leia Freyja and the bank treats and how her terrible experience sparked a story.

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