DiggyPOD was originally a small printing business called Quickprint, Inc. and was started in 1988 by Laura Alexander and three partners. Read DiggyPOD blog for self-publishing advice and to learn more abut what it takes to publish a book.
There are many steps within the publishing process, one of these being the printing of “pre-first editions,” which include galley proofs and advanced reader copies.
Pre-first editions are any versions of the book that are printed before the book is officially released in stores and online (we discussed advanced reader copies previously). Galley proofs refer to advanced, preliminary versions of a soon-to-be-published book; these proofs are meant for the author and/or editors and proofreaders to review and either approve or suggest changes.
Galley proofs are incredibly important for both the author and the publishing house. These proofs offer a tangible document to edit. They offer one final look at the book before it goes into production to be sold. During this stage, editors, proofreaders, and the author themself will be able to preview the book and confirm that it’s accurate, error-free, and ready for publication.
Before the Book is on Shelves
When a publishing house acquires a book, there are several steps before the book is published. It doesn’t happen automatically! The manuscript will be edited several times through by several different editors before the galley proofs will be printed. When a galley proof is printed, the manuscript should closely resemble how it will look when it’s officially published and on sale. Galley proofs are incredibly simple, without any graphics on the pages, fancy type, or formal formatting. They like won’t have an elaborate cover; they may have a placeholder cover. They may even be unbound. Galley proofs (these can also be referred to as “uncorrected proofs”) don’t need to look like a sellable book; what matters is the manuscript is there, with wide enough margins to allow for comments, questions, and thoughts.
Galley proofs add an extra level of security: this is the author’s and editors’ last chance to catch any misspellings, grammatical errors, or other issues within the book before it’s printed to be sold in stores and online.
Galley proofs are different than advanced reader copies. While they’re both pre-first editions of the upcoming book, advanced reader copies (ARCs) are for promotional purposes while, as previously mentioned, galley proofs are for editing and proofreading purposes. Galley proofs are printed before advanced reader copies are printed. Since advanced reader copies are sent to reviewers, booksellers, and libraries, they need to be error-free and representative of what the book will look like in its final printed form. ARCs come later.
Where The Name Galley Proof Came From…
Now you know what a galley proof is, but where did the name come from? When did publishers start printing galley proofs?
The term “galley proof” comes from the days of letterpress printing, circa 1600s. Back then, the printing process was painstakingly hands-on. It wasn’t as easy as it is today! The word “galley” is derived from the metal trays into which type was laid. The type was handset using either wooden or metal blocks and then placed into the galleys. This small proof press would then produce single column pages for the author to review. Therefore, these pages became known as “galley proofs.”
Digital Printing vs. Offset Printing
Why still print galley proofs? It may seem easier to do this digitally nowadays, and some publishers do! Others may offer both digital and physical galley proofs. Some publishers may only print physical galleys. This will vary publisher to publisher. Some editors work better with a physical manuscript in their hands; there’s something that is lost when you view a book digitally; when it’s printed, you’re able to easily envision the end product.
No matter what, each publisher will produce galley proofs in some shape or form, whether printed or digital. This allows the author and editors the opportunity to visualize what the book will look like once it’s completed.
The DiggyPOD Process of Printing Galley Proofs
Just like traditional publishing, there are different steps to the self-publishing process. We aim to make these steps easy for the self-publisher. Once the book is formatted per our specifications, our team goes to work.
When an author self-publishes with DiggyPOD, we’ll send them a digital version of a galley proof. Once they send us their PDF files, our prepress department will run them through an extensive quality check. During this step, we’ll check for any formatting issues.This is crucial to ensuring the book is going to print properly. Most prepress checks take between 45-60 minutes for each book order. If there is a formatting issue, we’ll contact the author right away. After our prepress department gives the files the OK, we’ll send the author an online proof of their book.
This online proof gives the author the opportunity to review their book. If everything looks correct, then the author’s work is done!
Once we receive the author’s approval, the manuscript is sent to the printing and binding department. It will soon be delivered to the author, ready to be sold in stores and online.
Galley Proof Printing for Book Publishers
DiggyPOD isn’t just for self-publishers, though. We’re proud to provide impressive books no matter who prints them – and this includes larger publishers and companies! Like printing advanced reader copies, printing galley proofs with DiggyPOD is environmentally-friendly, cost effective, and easy.
Traditional publishers, who operate on a massive scale, can’t always produce small runs of books without losing money on operation costs. Often, these companies have to print thousands of books in order to break even. Since our Print on Demand machines were made to produce small quantities and large quantities alike, we can easily accommodate galley proof orders. Our POD technology can print small runs of books without the use of expensive chemicals or plates. DiggyPOD doesn’t have to print thousands of books in order to break even with production costs.
No matter the job – big or small – DiggyPOD prints beautiful books for an exceptional cost.
In your publishing journey, you may come across some terms that you’re unfamiliar with, one of these terms being “advanced reader copies” (sometimes known as advance review copy, advance reader’s edition, advance copy, or reader’s edition). Advanced reader copies (or “ARCs”) are small runs of forthcoming books meant for early, specially selected readers. These readers are usually influential people who can assist with the publicity of the book, those who can sell it in stores, or those who will shelve it in libraries.
DiggyPOD is a great printer for advanced reader copies, for both self-published writers and publishing companies alike, and this is because of our Print on Demand technology. We can accommodate small runs quickly and easily, making printing advanced reader copies a breeze.
What are Advanced Reader Copies?
Advanced reader copies are small quantities of a soon-to-be-published books that are for a select few people. These books are not meant to be sold in stores.
Advanced readers can be anyone who receives the book before its official publication date when the book becomes available in stores and online. Advanced readers can include a wide array of people, such as book reviewers, booksellers, librarians, publishing sites, or writers/persons who may be writing a “blurb” for the book or promoting it in some other way.
Though ARCs are for promotional purposes, some authors may choose to give them to close friends, mentors, or family members. If the book is authored by a well known author or a celebrity, those who receive an advanced reader copy may be required to sign a confidentiality agreement effective until the book is officially released to the public.
ARCs Benefit Both Writer and Publisher
Obviously when a publishing house publishes a book, or when a self-publisher publishes their own book, the end goal is to put unique and important art out into the world—and, of course, to make money. Whether a book is published by a publishing company, or whether it’s self-published, it needs to sell. For a book to sell, it needs to be marketed, both before and after the release date. There needs to be a garnered interest among readers.
Advanced reader copies can help build this interest and boost presales. The purpose of advanced reader copies is to promote the release of the book. These copies are usually uncorrected (unedited) proofs, and they may look slightly different than the final product. Regardless, the content remains the same. (Since they are unedited, and there aren’t a large quantity of them printed, advanced reader copies can become collector’s items, if written by a well-known author or celebrity.)
A publishing house’s marketing or publicity team will send out ARCs to book review websites, newspapers, and magazines so that the reviews can come out before the book is released or soon thereafter. This gives the book reviewer or reader time to read the book and then write about it. Book reviews can significantly help presales by building a buzz and excitement around the forthcoming book. Reviews are especially helpful for newer authors who may not yet have a dedicated group of readers.
Since social media is such a valuable tool for authors to build an audience and sell their books, ARCs can also be sent to influential people (such as other writers, celebrities, talk show hosts, influential book clubs, etc.) for the sole purpose of having the advanced readers post on their social media about the forthcoming book. This can lead to a significant spike in sales.
ARCs are also sent to bookstores and libraries ahead of the book’s release date as a way to get the book onto their shelves once it’s released. Again this can help sales for new and veteran writers alike.
Printing ARCs as a Self-Publisher
Advanced reader copies aren’t just for large publishing companies. The best thing about self-publishing is having the freedom to do whatever you want—and if you want to print your own advanced reader copies, go right ahead! We’re here to print whatever you need.
Whether you already have a large audience, or you’d like to build that audience, then advanced reader copies are a great route.
If you’re a newer author who has yet to build a fan base, sending advanced reader copies to influential book reviewers or other writers who have a larger audience than you do can create a buzz around your book and begin to build your audience. This way, when your book comes out, there’s already a line of people waiting to purchase it. Advanced reader copies are a great way to get the word out about your book before you print the final copies to sell. If you build enough excitement around your book, you’ll sell more copies of it.
At DiggyPOD, we can print as few as 24 copies of a book, so know that your advanced reader copies order needs to hit this minimum.
DiggyPOD Makes Printing ARCs Easy
DiggyPOD is a great source for printing ARCs since our machines make it easy to print small quantities of books.
Unlike other companies, we offer the unique ability to print small runs of books. This is pretty rare in the traditional and self-publishing world. The reason we’re able to do this is because of our Print on Demand technology. This kind of printing operates on a low-scale. Since it doesn’t require expensive plates, chemicals, inks, or operators, we don’t need to print thousands of books in order to break even with production costs. This allows you to print your advanced reader copies for a reasonable price.
Since we’re able to operate on such a low-scale, large book publishers will often outsource their advanced reader copies printing jobs to us. We’re a great option because we’re fast, reliable, and we print beautiful books, no matter the amount.
If you’re in need of advanced reader copies, choose DiggyPOD to print them. We’re here to help self-publishers every step of the way, with easy-to-use tools, comprehensive tutorials, and friendly customer service representatives standing by to answer all your questions.
For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been doing a blog series on the back matter of a book. (We did a similar one on the front matter) You’ll remember that the front matter is all of the material that comes before the central story – or body text – in a book. This includes the title page, half title, table of contents, foreword, prologue, etc. All of these sections function to introduce the book, the author, and the subjects to be discussed.
If the front matter introduces the book, the back matter then wraps everything up. It comes after the body text and includes concluding sections that provide further reading, deeper explanations, and any final thoughts from the author or another writer. All of these pieces – front matter, body text, and back matter – fit together perfectly to create a complete book.
What Does the Back Matter of a Book Include?
The back matter is the concluding section of a book, and it can contain a whole host of information, and many of these sections are entirely optional. The self-published author doesn’t need to include any of these. However, these sections can add a lot of depth and additional information to the book, so it’s worth considering adding them to your soon-to-be self-published book.
The back matter includes the following: the epilogue, acknowledgements (these can go in the front matter, too), discussion section, appendix (or appendices), glossary, bibliography (or works cited), index, and colophon. We’ll discuss each one a little more below.
The Order of the Back Matter in a Book
Listed below is the typical order of the back matter in a book. Not all books will include each of these back matter elements, and since you are self-publishing, you get to decide what you want to include.
The epilogue is a section that comes after the story, but is still, technically, part of the story. An epilogue goes a step beyond resolution. It may be only one scene or several scenes, but it must have some sort of impact on the story. Any scene that happens after won’t do; it has to be relevant, and it must pack a punch.
An acknowledgement page is (usually) a one to two page section that can be in the front or back matter, and its focus is thanking and bringing attention to instrumental persons who helped the book become realized, written, and published.
If a book is slated to be discussed in high school or college English courses, or if it’s marketed as a book club selection, the author and publisher may elect to include a section at the end of the body text that introduces questions about the story and facilitates an academic discussion of the themes, characters, and deeper meanings.
An appendix is a section located at the back of a book that includes any additional or supplementary information on the book’s topic, such as other books on the subject, references, citations, etc. As appendices are used to bolster research, provide credibility, and list further references, they’re used (more often) in nonfiction books.
If a book includes rare, unfamiliar, specialized, or original words or terms, the glossary serves as a dictionary for the reader to reference throughout their reading of the book. (Note: this section should only contain definitions for specific terms in the book. It does not function as an ordinary dictionary.) Glossaries are included to help enhance the reader’s knowledge of a certain subject, as they provide a neat and orderly list of definitions and translations (if applicable).
The bibliography is a necessary section that cites sources used throughout the book. These sources may be used to bolster the author’s credibility, strengthen their argument or cause, or negate certain claims made in other books.
The colophon is a brief section that states publisher (name, location, and date) and type (font) information. Historically, colophons were always located in the back matter, but, nowadays, they’re can also be featured in the front matter, after the title page. It may also be used to identify book designers, software used, type of printer used, and the kind of ink.
Why the Back Matter Matters
Self-publishing comes with an unlimited amount of freedom. What you write, when you write, when you publish, and how you sell your book is entirely your decision. There will be no pressure from in-house editors, designers, or marketers. This can be incredibly liberating, but it can also lead to the complicated dilemma of should a self-published author include everything that a traditionally published book has?
The short answer is no. As previously stated, you don’t need these sections in your book. However, it’s worth considering. As a whole, the front matter, body text, and back matter fit together perfectly to create a fully-realized book. All of your ideas, visions, and goals will find their place in these three sections.
The back matter is the last word. The story may be done (unless it’s a trilogy or saga – then it’s just done for now), but the discussion behind the story, the resources used, and the details of the book still matter – to readers, critics, book clubs, and, ultimately, you.
What it comes down to is author preference and what the book calls for. Take care in realizing and understanding what your book needs and why – not all books will need an epilogue, and certainly not all books will need a glossary. The back matter will leave a lasting impression on your reader, it needs to be strong and well planned.
Perhaps one of the simplest aspects of the back matter is the colophon. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not important – quite the opposite, actually. Where the publisher is concerned, the colophon may be the most important part of the back matter. The colophon contains all the technical information pertaining to the book, including the type and publisher or printer. A lot of books use a colophon, in some form or another; it’s not just limited to one specific category or genre.
What is a Colophon?
The colophon is a brief section that states publisher (name, location, date, insignia) and book production information. Historically, colophons were always located in the back matter, but, nowadays, they’re can also be featured in the front matter, after the title page, along with copyright details.
The word “colophon” comes from the Greek “κολοφών” meaning “summit” or “finishing touch.” Around the turn of the 20th century, private and commercial presses began including colophons in the back of their books and listed different technical and material information about the book: the front, paper type, binding process, cover material, etc. This simply adds another layer of recognition for the publisher and the work that went into turning the story into a physical book.
The most common version of a colophon in the back matter that you’re likely to see nowadays is a section called “Note About The Type.” This may seem odd, but it’s necessary to make note of. Colophons may also be used to identify book designers, software used, type of printer used, and the kind of ink.
Including a Colophon in Your Self-Published Book
Just as with anything else, no one is going to force you to include a colophon in your self-published book. Everything – from the cover to the words to the back matter – is entirely your decision as the writer and publisher. However, when you self-publish a book, a lot of hard work goes into its creation. The printer works hard to ensure you have a beautiful, bookshelf-worthy product that you’ll be proud to sell and give to readers.
When you print with DiggyPOD, there are a plethora of printing options for you to choose from: from paper type to cover details to binding. These choices tell a story, too. Certain types of paper work better in different books (are there pictures in your book? Choose a thicker paper). Certain binding options look better than others (spiral binding is great for cookbooks, hardcover is perfect for fiction). And – believe it or not – even the font is a crucial choice (nonfiction books will use clean, simple fonts, while the font used in a children’s book will be bigger, more colorful, and fun).
Since colophons are versatile and serve to give the details of the book, you can use a colophon in any kind of book that DiggyPOD prints – from mystery novels to memoirs to yearbooks. Using a colophon in a yearbook is especially useful, as you can include staff information, book printer, book specifications, etc. Here are a few more examples:
The text of The Empathy Exams is set in Adobe Jenson Pro, a typeface drawn by Robert Slimbach and based on late-fifteenth-century types by the printer Nicolas Jenson. This book was designed by Ann Sudmeier. Composition by BookMobile Design & Digital Publisher Services, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Manufactured by Versa Press on acid-free 30 percent postconsumer wastepaper.
This book is set in CASLON, designed and engraved by William
Caslon of WILLIAM CASLON & SON, Letter-Founders in
London, around 1740. In England, at the beginning of
the eighteenth century, Dutch type was probably
more widely used than English. The rise
of William Caslon put a stop to the
importation of Dutch types
and so changed the his-
tory of English typecutting.
Again, though the colophon may seem simple, it’s an important piece to include in your self-published book. Though it traditionally started as a part of the back matter, it can also be included in the front matter.
Another section of the back matter that may or may not be included in a book is the discussion section. If it seems like many of the sections of the back matter are optional, that’s because they are! There are certain things that find their way into every book’s back matter (such as an about the author section and about the type), however, sections like the epilogue, appendix (or appendices), glossary, and discussion section are entirely optional, and their inclusion depends on the book and the author.
What is the Discussion Section?
If the book is slated to be discussed in high school or college English courses, or if it’s marketed as a book club selection, the author and publisher may elect to include a section at the end of the body text (the story) that introduces questions about the story and facilitates an academic discussion of the themes, characters, and deeper meanings.
The great thing about literature is that it’s rarely about what is on the surface. Delving deep into books and searching for meaning beneath the story can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Writing is an art, and art impacts culture and history. The discussion section, then, is where that impact is unearthed and explored.
Why are Discussion Section Questions Useful?
The discussion section isn’t meant to supply the only discussion topics a class or book club can cover. This is merely a starting point for a fuller conversation. Despite it being “fiction,” a lot of learning can stem from reading novels. Novels are meant to reflect real life (yes, even if they’re science fiction or fantasy!). A lot of truth can come from made up stories. The discussion section of a book is meant to begin this search of truth. The questions aren’t meant to be rigidly followed. Instead, they start as a jumping off point. The class or book club can take the conversation wherever it naturally goes.
Discussion sections can also help young readers or new readers begin to think more critically about books. They can help frame how readers approach future reading endeavors.
Thinking Critically About Your Writing
For the self-published author, writing the discussion section may be the easiest part of creating the book – or it may be the hardest. Sometimes it can be hard to look at your own writing – something you’re incredibly close to, in every possible way – and see it as a reader and critical thinker might.
It might be worthwhile to enlist the help of a friend or mentor during this step. They can help provide valuable insight into how a reader looks at your book – what does the reader think about your protagonist? How do they see the resolution?
If you decide to go it alone, be sure to devote the proper amount of time to this. Take some time away from your book, then come back to it with refreshed eyes. Read through it, see what questions you have along the way, and try to find repeating motifs and themes.
Examples of Possible Discussion Section Questions
Obviously the types of questions included will vary by book. There is not set sample. To provide an idea of what the discussion section may possibly look like, let’s explore a few of the questions featured in the back matter of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.
Question 1: What can be understood from what the monster reads? Does the monster’s reading lead him astray or equip him to deal with the world?
This question is interesting, because while it seems, on the surface, to simply be asking students or readers to discuss only what’s in the book, it can possibly lead to a discussion of reading in general: is reading a way to escape or avoid our problems? Or does it equip us to deal with the world and our personal issues?
Question 2: What is it [that makes Frankenstein so immensely popular]? The danger of scientific Prometheanism…? The pathos of being an outcast? Fear of the dead coming to life and seeking revenge?
This question doesn’t just prompt students and readers to discuss the various themes of the book – it also asks them to evaluate the themes’ effect on the world. It forces them to try to think broadly about why so many people, over so many years, have felt drawn to this story. Why are the themes so universally felt? What does Frankenstein have to say about humanity as a whole?
For the self-publisher, it may be an interesting journey to try to see your work through a critical thinker’s eyes. What connections can you make between your book and life itself? What comfort can a reader find in your words? How can your story inspire others?
As a part of the book’s back matter, the bibliography is a crucial section that cites sources used throughout the book. These sources may be used to bolster the author’s credibility, strengthen their argument or cause, or negate certain claims made in other books. Whatever the reason, if an author uses an additional source when writing their book, they absolutely must include a bibliography or works cited page, in some form or another (whether this is realized in an actual page in the back matter or footnotes).
As stated above, the bibliography (sometimes known as a works cited page or a reference page) is a section that lists out all of the sources that the author consulted, quoted, or referenced directly or indirectly during the writing of their book. Just as you must cite sources when writing a paper in school, so too must you list which works you used when writing your book.
This is a way to ensure that you’re providing credit and not violating copyright laws or plagiarizing other creative or intellectual works.
Why is the Bibliography Included in the Back Matter?
The back matter is the perfect place for the bibliography, because that’s where a lot of the technical information of the book falls. It makes logical sense that the pages listing resources used in the book would fall after the book. This provides an easy way for readers to confirm claims, find specific books used, and add further reading to their list.
The different back matter sections are all supplementary, and most of them provide additional information and materials that the reader can explore, if so desired. The bibliography, therefore, is a list of books that explore similar topics.
What Kind of Books use a Bibliography?
The most common type of books that use bibliography are academic in nature. You’re very likely to find bibliographies in the back pages of textbooks, historical nonfiction books, biographies, cultural critiques, essay collections, and research-based nonfiction books.
How to Write your Bibliography
When creating your bibliography, follow the same rule of thumb set in place for the appendix, glossary, and index. These pages should be clean, concise, and easy to follow. Ordering your bibliography in alphabetical order is the best way to go, but organizing it based on order of appearance is also acceptable.
Some people may even go so far as to organize the bibliography based on the chapters, sections, and specific parts of the book. This works too. No matter how you choose to format it, the pages should be orderly and neat, and there should be a clear and discernable rule of organization.
For each book, article, or excerpt used, be sure to list the title(s), subtitle, author, publisher or website, the year, and page number(s). There are different formats, such as MLA, APA, and Chicago style. For more on how to create citations, read this helpful page.
Not every book will require a bibliography, so be sure to use your best judgement in deciding if your book needs one or not. If you’re pulling directly from other sources, it’s best to name those sources as references. Note that fiction books rarely use bibliographies, since it’s assumed the story came from the author’s imagination.
While the glossary defines specific words found in a book, the index merely tells you where to find them. As a part of the back matter, the index is found in the end pages of a book, and it can be a resourceful tool for readers who may be using the book in their research, or for readers who just want to read up on a certain subject.
An index is an alphabetized list of subjects and terms used and discussed in the book with their corresponding page numbers and is great to use in nonfiction books. It serves as a key or map for finding specific topics in lengthier books. The words listed can be technical terms, places, persons, or multiple words.
Keep in mind that not every single word used in the book should make it into this list (this would be absurd and make for an impossibly long book). Use only terms or phrases of importance with page numbers that lead to sections where those terms or phrases are explained and discussed thoroughly.
An index is not the same thing as a table of contents. The table of contents (or contents page), which is found in the front matter of a book, lists parts, sections, and chapters of the book and their corresponding page numbers. This is for navigational purposes, just as the index is, but the index has more to do with subjects.
Why Should You Include an Index in Your Book?
Simply put: it’s a good navigational tool for your readers. Perhaps those readers are writing a paper on a certain topic, and they wish to use your book as a reference. It’ll be easy for them to flip to the back, find the subject they’re looking for, and flip to its rightful page number. Imagine how much harder this task would be if they had to thumb through every page in the book until they came across what they were looking for!
Another reason the index is useful is that it provides readers with the ability to decide if they wish to purchase your book in the first place! Say a reader is looking for a book that covers a specific topic – say, the Battle of Bunker Hill. They can grab your book from the shelf, scan the index to see if the Battle of Bunker Hill is listed covered, and decide if your book is the right choice for them.
How the Self-Publisher Can Include an Index
First things first: be sure the index, just like the glossary, is alphabetized and neat. Readers need to be able to quickly scan the list and find what they’re looking for, so any unnecessary clutter needs to be eradicated.
Before you self-publish your book, you can easily add an index to your back matter. To round-up all the pages a certain topic falls on, search for that word or phrase in your Microsoft Word document. To do this on an Apple computer, press ‘command’ + ‘F.’ To do this on a Windows computer, press ‘control’ + ‘F.’ Once you’ve located all the pages that include this word and discuss it (not just mention it in passing), note those pages in your index.
If you create an easy to read, neat, and concise index, your book will be all the better for it, and your readers will no doubt appreciate your efforts on their behalf. Indexes are great to use in nonfiction books as they assist readers in finding specific sections of the book.
Continuing with our series on back matter, today’s blog is all about the glossary. Sometimes called the idioticon, vocabulary, or clavis, the glossary is essentially a book’s personal dictionary. Utilizing one in your book is a great way to define, list, and expand upon unfamiliar, made up, or intricate terms used in the book.
The glossary is found in the back matter of the book. The back matter (which comes after the story; the front matter comes before) also includes such sections as the epilogue, afterword, and appendix.
The word “glossary” comes from the Greek “glossarion,” with its root being “glossa,” meaning “obsolete or foreign word.” Therefore, it is a collection of obsolete or foreign words defined.
If a book includes rare, unfamiliar, specialized, or made up words or terms, the glossary serves as a dictionary for the reader to reference throughout their reading of the book. (Note: this section should only contain definitions for specific terms in the book. It does not function as an ordinary dictionary.)
Glossaries are included to help enhance the reader’s knowledge of a certain subject, as they provide a neat and orderly list of definitions and translations (if applicable).
Book Glossary Examples
The most common place to find a glossary is in a textbook. Pick any textbook off a shelf, flip to the back pages, and you’re sure to find a list of subjects discussed in the book, their definitions, and the page numbers where they’re located. Foreign language textbooks definitely have them, their back pages filled with translations for special vocabulary words, verb conjugations, and common phrases.
Textbooks aren’t the only example of books that use glossaries, however. Plenty of nonfiction books use them, whether they’re historical books, cultural critiques, memoirs, or scientific research.
Fantasy or science fiction books, too, can use a glossary. If a fantasy novel includes a made up language, a plethora of cities and places with odd names, or a complex and rich history, the author may opt to include a glossary to define words, places, or “historical” events that are brought up in the book.
Including a Glossary Page in Your Self-Published Book
If you feel that the topic or the complexity of your book calls for a glossary of terms, then by all means, include one! Adding this section to the back matter of your book is a great way to assist your readers, educate them, and provide transparency.
When creating your glossary, be sure it’s easily found, neat, organized, and understandable. Your readers should be able to simply flip to the back pages of the book and find it without a problem. It should be a page that they go back to again and again with ease during their reading of the book.
The glossary should also be neat and organized. Don’t clutter it: you don’t need to include a definition for every single word used in the book. Pick the words that would be unfamiliar to the layman and provide their definitions. Glossaries are normally organized in alphabetical order.
Your glossary should also be easily understood. The reader should be able to scan the list, find the word they’re looking for, and learn what it means. If the glossary leaves the reader more confused, you have a problem. Define and explain the words, terms, or phrases as simply and transparently as possible.
Hopefully this blog clarifies exactly what a glossary is, when it should be included in a book, and how it should look in your self-published book.
You already know that a book’s back matter includes the epilogue and afterword (or postscript), but did you know it also includes an appendix page? An appendix page is a section located at the back of a book that includes any additional or supplementary information on the book’s topic, such as other books on the subject, references, citations, etc.
Not every book has an appendix page – just like not every book has an epilogue or an afterword. Some books don’t warrant the need for an appendix. If a book has one, it’s there for a good reason.
What Kind of Books Use Appendices?
As appendices are used to bolster research, provide credibility, and list further references, they’re used (more often) in nonfiction books. Biographies (books about a person’s life written by someone else), autobiographies or memoirs (books about a person’s life written by that person), research-based books (medical textbooks, historical books), and cultural critiques are just a few nonfiction books that benefit from the presence of an appendix.
Why Include a Book Appendix Page?
There are several different reasons an author may include a book appendix.
To Provide Additional Information on a Topic
The book appendix is the perfect place for more details on a subject in the book that perhaps the author didn’t have time to include fully or didn’t have room for. The appendix may provide additional resources (books, articles, research) for the reader to explore on their own time.
To Cite Sources/Data
If the book is heavily research-based, the author may choose to include this back portion to list the sources they drew from to write the book. For example, if an author is writing about the life of Marie Curie, they may feel inclined to list out all the books and sources they utilized in the writing process.
Including an appendix can help build credibility. If an author lists out the materials they encountered in their research, it’s a sort of proof that they know what they’re talking about.
If the book is scientific or medical, the appendix can include data – graphs, charts, statistics, etc.
To Supply Original Materials
In biographies or memoirs, authors can include original materials such as letters, personal documents, photographs, emails, lists, etc. to add to the richness of their story.
How the Self-Publisher Can Include an Appendix Page
If you’re writing a nonfiction book that includes research on a particular topic, you should definitely include an appendix in your book’s back matter. Think back to when you were in school and had to include a “Sources Cited” or “Bibliography” page. This is a lot like that!
How the appendix is formatted will depend what types of materials or information you’re including in it. Look to some of your favorite books on your shelves for examples.
Appendix Page Examples
In his cultural critique of how media and societal thought interact, Neil Postman includes a notes section, a bibliography, and an index in the back matter of Amusing Ourselves to Death.
In The Inklings, a historical account of the Inklings of Oxford (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams), Humphrey Carpenter includes several appendices. The first appendix includes additional biographical information on the people featured in the book. These details are saved for the appendix section rather than bog down the story. The second appendix is the bibliography – a list of all the books referenced in the story and used for researching the famous authors. The third appendix lists sources for the quotations used throughout the story – again, rather than bog down the body text. The last appendix serves as an acknowledgement page.
In Leslie Jamison’s collection of essays, The Empathy Exams, a list of ‘Works Consulted’ includes books, other essays, articles, musical and dramatic works, and women consulted for the writing of her essays.
In each of these books, the appendices look different, and that’s because it comes down to how the author wants to present the information. In the writing of your book, you’ll find that a certain format works better than another. Above all else, you should focus on creating a book appendix page that is easy to understand and neatly presents additional resources for your readers to discover.
Just like the foreword comes before the story within a novel or a book, the afterword comes after and is included in the back matter of the book. The afterword is often confused with the postscript.
As you learned in our series on front matter, the foreword is a section of a book written by someone other than the author, and it discusses the author, the book, and events surrounding the book.The afterword is a lot like the foreword, except it’s located among the back matter of a book. The back matter is found at the end of the book, after the body text, and it includes the epilogue, appendix, glossary, afterword, etc.
How to Write an Afterword
The afterword is a literary device that comes after the central story (otherwise known as body matter) and addresses how the book came into existence, how the idea for the story was formed, answers any questions that may have been left unclear, etc. Though it can be written by the author of the book, it’s usually written by someone other than the author. Most of the time, the book will have either a foreword or an afterword. Using both is rare, and if the book does happen to have both, they’ll most likely be written by two different writers.
If it is written by the author of the book, the afterword will be about how the book came to be and the situation surrounding it, and it will offer some sort of final or concluding thought on the subject.
Afterwords are especially great (and more common) to use when a book has been reprinted after the initial publication. In this case, the writer will discuss the reception of the book, it’s cultural significance, and impact on readers and other creative works. Classic novels (such as Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, etc.) often include an afterword that will discuss the book’s impact on the literary canon, society, other writers, and more.
How is a Postscript Different?
For all intents and purposes, an afterword and a postscript function in relatively the same way, but they aren’t the same thing. Postscripts can be used in books, as short add-ons to the original story. They’re more commonly used in letters or other forms of personal communication, though. The postscript (or, “P.S.”), in letters, functions as a sort of afterword – as a way to add a final thought after the conclusion.
Afterwords, however, don’t fall within the story of the book. They’re about the situation surrounding the story.
Should Self-Publishers Write an Afterword?
Self-publishing a book may make for an even more fascinating afterword than that of a book traditionally published. The story behind the story of a self-published book is unique. The author should take advantage of this opportunity. If you choose to include one, there are a couple options on how to write an afterword.
Maybe you self-published a book years ago, and you’d like to re-publish a different edition. This is the perfect opportunity to include a section that the original may not have had. It could then address how the book was received, what you learned from the process, and how the material has aged over time.
If you choose to have someone else write it, be sure to pick someone who is familiar with your work and your creative process. This could be a colleague, an editor, a workshop member, or a family member or friend who always reads your writing. Their reaction to the self-published book should be included in the afterword, as well as their interaction with you as an author.
Just remember that like the foreword, the afterword is completely optional. Nothing within your book will be changed by its absence. The story will be fine on its own. Should you decide, however, to include one, refer to this blog if you find yourself wondering what to write about. As a part of the book’s back matter, the afterword will cleanly wrap up the entire novel, memoir, or biography and leave the reader with a sense of closure.