Save Room for the Back Matter
Most of you know I've been working on a picture book biography, and I'm finished with the story part and have been polishing up the back matter. Thank God for back matter! Do you know why? Well, I spent probably
2 1/2 - 3 months of research on this person; my Evernote online notebook is full and so is my real hard copy notebook. But when I revised and revised this story, I had to cut out many facts and areas of this person's life. It was extremely painful. All those months of digging up these gems of facts and anecdotes, only to ditch them. But wait...those facts aren't gone forever. I can use them in my back matter or save them for a future web site spot for students and teachers. Relief!
So exactly what belongs in the back matter? I've been studying the pros, and the sky's the limit. Each book is unique in how its handled. Some leave a small author's note explaining how they were connected with the subject. Others leave 2-3-4 pages of additional information. Here are some examples:
In Noah Webster and His Words, the story stops on page 29. A double-spread timeline takes up pages 30-31, and on page 32 is more about Noah's life, and a bibliography divided into primary resources, secondary resources, and web sites.
In A Beam of Light, there are 14.5 spreads of story, then one double-spread with the author's note, four sections of additional information about Albert Einstein, and then books for further reading, plus one web site.
A Splash of Red includes 5 pages of back matter! The first page has a historical note (more info about Horace Pippin) plus his real photograph. The next spread includes the author's note, illustrator's note, a list of books for further reading, a film, web sites, quotation sources, and an acknowledgements section (thanking everyone who helped with the book including museum people). The last spread in the back matter is a map of places to find Horace's art.
Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors has a double spread with the author's note of more about Elizabeth Blackwell and sources used.
Wow. The back matter is no simple matter! I think the more you have to offer the editor is better. And then the editor can choose what to use. I've already written a short author's note of how I'm connected with my subject, additional information about my subject (mostly those facts I had to cut out of the original story), a timeline, and a bibliography separated by primary and secondary sources. Perhaps I should slim the sources down for "further reading" for children. I also have a list of photographs in public domain that might be helpful to the future illustrator.
I realized all this back matter must fit within the confines of a 32 page picture book unless the publisher decides on extra pages. Oh no! Perhaps more cutting.
If you want to read more about back matter, I found a few posts.
"Today's Picture Book Biographies: Back Matter Matters," The Horn Book.
"How to Handle Picture Book Back Matter During Submission" Dear Editor.com (read the comments, too)
"Beautiful Back Matter," INK (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) web site
What are your thoughts? What do you think should be included?
I'm debuting on the GROG BLOG today about How to Write for the Educational Market. If you have a chance, please stop by! Thanks for all your support! Have a happy writing day, plus it's the first day of spring here.
The Kyobo Rocks
Aren't these neat-looking rocks? They lay in front of Seoul's largest bookstore, Kyobo (kyo-bo). According to my husband, the rocks say, "People make books. Books make people."
Very deep and philosophical! But it's so true! We as writers and publishers are trying to compose great stories and get them into the hands of children. But why? Because books help shape people into the person they become. This was a great reminder for me. Sometimes I'm so wrapped up in getting my story perfect, that I forget about the end result--the child reading my story!
This past week I've been reading The Kite Flyers by Linda Sue Park to my 8 year old son. His facial expressions are so precious. It's been wonderful cuddling and remembering why I'm writing. So grab or borrow a kid this week and read some quality books that will "make people."
Announcements: Thanks to all of you who are following the new GROG BLOG, that I'm a part of. My debut will be this Wednesday, and I'll send out a reminder and link. And we're giving away lots of prizes, so I hope you're following and can catch the announcements soon. Sorry this post is so short; but I just started a freelance project through the beginning of May that has me very busy. But if I keep my thoughts on the children who will result, it's worth the work!
Now get back to making books :)
I just finished a wonderful four weeks of Nonfiction Archaeology. It's an online class taught by Kristen Fulton about how to write nonfiction picture books. I was in the inaugural class and had a wonderful time meeting new kidlit peeps. Each Monday night is a live webinar which you can participate in or listen to the recording if you can't make it. And each weekday a lesson is emailed to you. And the best part is the communication among classmates and instructor in a Facebook group. I thrive on feedback. And if you've been following along in my blog, you know I've been working on a picture book biography. I'm so glad for this class and for my critique groups who have helped shape my story. If you're interested in writing nonfiction, I hope you can take this class. It begins the first Monday of each month. I learned a great technique from Kristen in writing picture book biographies, but I'm not spoiling the beans... You have to take the class to find out. By the way, I've taken many writing classes, and probably so have you. I've learned tidbits from each instructor that I can use to make my writing stronger. So dig in!
The second thing I wanted to share with you is that I'm now part of a group called GROG. We are writers who are teaming up as a group to blog each day about writing. We go live on March 3rd. I'll be posting 2-3 times a month as well. Our aim with this blog is to provide:
G: Guidance and support
R: Resources on the craft of writing
O: Opportunities to expand our skills
G: Great folks who support readers and writers of all ages!
I hope you check out our GROG Blog here and bookmark it or subscribe. Maybe some of you can be guest authors on our GROG.
Have a great writing week! I know I will. Just got back from Costco here, and they now carry crunchy CHEETOS from America! :) See, it's the little things that can make your day.
Tina M. Cho, children's author
I'm a children's author and freelance writer for the educational market. Welcome!