Back when all books were paper books, you’d find savvy mass market publishers advertising in the front and backmatter of their books. If you’re involved in self-publishing, consider how you can use these areas too — they’re valuable real estate, and you can use these areas in any way you like.
A couple of definitions: “front matter” is all the stuff at the beginning of an ebook before the main content. “Backmatter” is the material at the end, after the content’s done.
Let’s look at some tips for getting the most from these areas.
#1. Advertise (subtly) in your front matter
Be aware that Amazon shows the first 10% of your ebook via its Look Inside feature. Keep the essential material in your front matter short. Remember your copyright info, of course.
Use that 10% to subtly advertise your ebook. Anyone reading via Look Inside hasn’t bought your book, so spend a little time thinking what you could show up front, to encourage your reader to buy.
When publishing novels, include a snippet from an action scene (or romantic scene) from your ebook, if the first couple of scenes in Chapter One aren’t enthralling.
If you’re publishing nonfiction, share some interesting material up front.
In other words — flash your wares, don’t be shy.
2. Include a link to your mailing list signup page in the front matter
This link is just a couple of lines: “join our mailing list at (URL) for a free short story.”
Include the link in your backmatter too.
3. Written other ebooks? Include them in your backmatter
List your other ebooks in the back matter, with Amazon links. Be careful with this, don’t link to your ebook on iBooks on Amazon, and similarly don’t link to your ebooks on Amazon on iBooks.
4. Don’t go overboard with excerpts from other books in your backmatter
Keep your excepts short. I’ve bought some ebooks where the excerpt took up the final quarter of the ebook. That’s overdoing things. You’ll annoy readers.
5. Suggest a review: “If you enjoyed this book…”
Again, be subtle. Be nice. Tell readers you’d love to hear from them, and include a link to your website. You can also say: “If you enjoyed this story, please tell your friends.”
With reviews, Amazon says:
“Consider a message to readers in your book asking them to leave a review if they enjoyed the book or doing a Q&A with yourself to give readers more information on you. We will automatically provide a link to leave a review but sometimes a personal message can have a major impact.”
It’s worth spending a little time crafting your personal message. Tell readers something about yourself. Again, don’t go overboard.
The front and backmatter of your ebooks matter. In your rush to publish, don’t neglect these vital areas. Work on them while you’re writing your ebook, so that they’re all done and ready to go by the time you’re ready to publish your ebook.
Update on November 29, 2016: the Table of Contents goes in the front of your ebook
Since September, Amazon’s been cleaning house. I wrote about some of the things which are affecting ebook sales here.
Authors have reported that Amazon’s cracking down on Tables of Content appearing in the backmatter of ebooks — this has to do with “pages read” scams. So do be sure to put your Table of Contents, if you have one, at the front of your ebook. 🙂
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