Writer's Journal: Updating Back Matter

Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer's Journal!

In most books, mine included, there are “parts” to the book. I don’t know all the official names for things, if there are any, but I know they exist and where they belong. Front matter, story, and back matter are the three big parts I’m talking about. I want to focus on back matter today, because I spent hours updating it in two of my books.

The back matter is divided into four parts. One is a “call to action,” in my case, a note asking readers to consider leaving a review wherever they bought the book and giving a link to my mailing list sign-up form. The next is a short biography called “About the Author.” Then, I have contact information that’s over a page long. I make it super easy to find me. Haha. ;) Finally, there’s a list of all my books.

Now, when I wrote I Promise To …, I had no other books, so the back matter consisted only of my bio and a couple contact links. When Lilacs and Lavender came out, my “more by” section was birthed. I played around with different formats for that with each successive book, but now I have settled on a format that I enjoy, and that doesn’t take up too much space. I have a list of all my books by category: Regency Single Titles, Westerns, The Darcy Marriage Series, Bundles, and Contemporary Settings. As I write more, I can simply add the new one to the bottom of the list in the appropriate category. And, should I write more series, or write sequels to books I already have, I can reorganize easily.

That being said, I have never updated the back matter, specifically the contact information and my list of previous titles (with links) in most of my books. Shameful, I know, but there you have it. Why not? Because it’s a big job. I could maybe make it easier by simply copying and pasting out of other books, but here is the problem I run into: when I make the new epub file, the last title in the lineup loses its centering and ends up left justified. I have no idea why or how to fix it, so I end up going to Books2Read and copying every universal link separately and then making a new hyperlink in my original document for each book … which requires adding “https://www.” to each one in order to make it work. I spent five hours today working on two books, so trust me: I know first-hand how time-consuming it is.

Some of you might be wondering why I need to update that stuff anyway. Here’s the reason: if a new reader buys a book, let’s say Promises Kept, and decides she wants more of my books, what does she see? Two measly titles, with no links. What if she would love to follow me on Instagram? I wasn’t on that social media site back then. If she didn’t know how to search the site or didn’t have time to search for me, or if she found a dozen Zoe Burtons, she might give it up, and I would have lost a follower. Since social media is a great way for me to stay in touch with my fans, I’d have lost out on an excellent opportunity to build a relationship.

Then, there are the book links. I had given them up for a year or more, because I didn’t know about universal links and didn’t want to take the time to make four or five different versions of my ebook to comply with vendor requirements of “no competitor links.” Since then, I have learned about and used universal links. I discovered today that all of them have been used recently, with a large number going to Apple or Barnes & Noble. That was a pleasant surprise, and I had to wonder how many sales I have missed out on in the last year or so by not having the links.

So, one of my projects this year is to update the back matter in every book. It’s the best way I have to be sure my fans can find both me and the rest of my books.

Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3

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