Back matter or end matter is the stuff you put at the end of your story. It’s what you type after you have typed “The End.” Just as in front matter, there are a lot of different things you can stick at the back of your book. Some of it is standard and some of it is dependent on the genre you are writing in. Some of the elements in your front matter can be included as back matter instead. Some authors even put their call to action in both the front and the back along with the list of their other books.
Why would you put these elements in both the front and the back of the book? because if a reader picks up your book and flips through the first pages or previews the book on Amazon, then they see you have other books so even if they don’t buy the one they are looking at, they may go and buy another. For the call to action, they may not buy your book right then but look you up on their smart phone and follow you on your social media sites, which may get you book sales in the future.
For a list of the elements you can put in either front or back matter, see last weeks post all about front matter here.
Here are some elements for you to think about when deciding what to put after your story:
Epilogue: this comes immediately after the main text. The purpose is to provide a sense of closure to the book. Basically it is your last chapter called by a different name. It is the resolution portion of your book or the what happens after the climax of the story. It can be set in the future like 10 years later or in the days following the climax.
Afterword: This element explores how the book came to be written, how the idea developed. It is the same as the Preface but at the end. It can also be more similar to a Forward but at the end. If used more like a forward, it is typically written by someone other than the author and covers the books historical and cultural impact.
Postscript: Basically another word for afterword. It is typically found as letters or personal communications between the author and someone else about why the book was written or the authors desire for the impact of the story and theme being communicated.
Extro or Outro: This is the opposite of an introduction. It’s used to conclude the book. It’s not often seen in books but music. However, you can include it in a book.
Appendix or Addendum: This includes supplementary information about the book such as extra details, updates and corrections to earlier materials.
Glossary: This is a collection of terms from the book. Its purpose is to explain new, uncommon or specialized terms to provide a clear definition for the reader. It’s like the books personal dictionary.
Index: This is used to find terms in the book. It is an alphabetized list of terms and indicates on which pages the terms are used.
Bibliography or works cited/reference list: This is a list of resources the author used in the book or are someway relevant to the book. You can include a bit of detail in this section about why references were used and a brief summary of the reference material.
Colophon: This provides information on the printing and publishing process of the work, mostly the technical details. It can include the type of paper used to print the book, the ink, the binding used, and the typeface (font). Sometimes the information about the typeface is separate and called “Note on Type” and includes a detailed description of the typeface, its history and characteristics.
About the author page: This is where the author provides a brief summary of their previous work, education and personal life.
Copywrite permissions: if the author has sought permission to reproduce song lyrics, artwork, or extended excerpts from other books it should be included here.
Discussion questions: This is thought-provoking questions and prompts about the book intended for use in school settings or book clubs.
Chronology or timeline: This is mainly found in nonfiction but could be helpful in a fiction series like epic fantasy.
End notes: This is supplementary notes that related to specific passages of the text and is denoted in the body of the book with a superscript. Mostly used in nonfiction but it has also been used is classic fiction as well.
As you can see, there are a lot of choices. Try not to overwhelm the reader and only include what you believe is beneficial to the readers understanding of the book. Try not to duplicate things from the front matter.