Oh Susanna – How To Submit Author Notes And Factual Back Matter?

Happy Monday, everybody!  I hope you all had an excellent weekend!

I would like to start this week by congratulating my friend Renee LaTulippe on the publication of the first 2 pieces of writing she ever submitted (seriously, that kind of talent doesn’t come along every day!) in The Poetry Friday Anthology For Middle School!  Congratulations, Renee!  We are all mucho proud of you (and I’m hoping in this case that mucho might pass for something Italian because that’s all I’ve got :))  You can enter to win a copy HERE or you can purchase a copy HERE.

I would also like to let you know that my friend Iza Trapani is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her wonderful book, The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  She has spun the familiar rhyme into a delightful and engaging story and accompanied it with her gorgeous art.  This book has been a favorite in our family for years, and if you have a young one in your life this is a story you won’t want to miss.  You can enter to win a copy on her blog HERE just by writing a few lines about the continuing adventures of Itsy Bitsy 🙂

In other news, since today is the alternate Monday from Short & Sweets, we have an Oh Susanna question, which I hope you will find enlightening 🙂

Alayne asks:  “Manuscript formatting question. If a glossary and author note/fact sheets accompany your picture book manuscript, how is the back matter formatted? Are they just a continuation of the manuscript, double spaced after the end? Are they brand new sheets starting five inches down on the page? Here’s a totally different question: Would you send the back matter with the manuscript? Or only mention it in the cover letter?

Good question, Alayne.  I think many fiction writers are accustomed to submitting their story manuscripts, but if a story idea comes up that lends itself to some educational back matter, they might not know how to handle that, so I’m glad you asked.

To begin with, I would recommend researching titles at the house you’re submitting to to see if they publish books with back matter of any kind.  Not every house does, and you don’t want to submit a story with back matter to a house that doesn’t publish them.

My opinion on this issue is that if you have back matter you should mention it in your cover letter (I believe it is an added hook if there is an educational component and/or a curriculum connection) and include the back matter with your story.  (But a little note on this below…)

Write and format your story manuscript as you usually would.  When you get to the end of the story and are ready to supply the back matter, begin it on the top of a new page with whatever title it requires (Glossary, Fun Facts About Teeth, Pictorial Guide To State Flags, etc.), and continue your header (last name and manuscript title in the upper left, page number in the upper right), with the page numbers continuing (e.g. if your story ended on page 3, the first page of back matter would be page 4, not page 1 of back matter.)  If you have more than one type/category/section of back matter, I would begin each separate section on a new page (e.g. a new page for the Glossary, another new page for Fun Facts About Teeth, etc.)

Any time you include back matter, you should also include a bibliography to show where you got your information, and that can be the last page of your submission.  A bibliography should be formatted according to any standard method – MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style, etc.  You will want to show solid sources – not just Wikipedia 🙂  If you include an explanatory Author Note of some kind you should likewise back that up with evidence/reference to personal knowledge, interview, research etc.

Edit 3/4/13: Huge thanks to Joanna and Tina for reminding me about word count!  The word count for the back matter should be separate from the word count for the story.  So put your story’s word count on the first/cover page of your manuscript in the upper right, and then put the word count for your back matter in the upper right of the page where the back matter begins.

That is how I would approach it.  However, here is my “note below” 🙂  Some might argue that it depends on how critical the back matter is to the story.  If the story can stand completely on its own without the back matter, so that the back matter is essentially an optional bonus, some might say that you could mention in your cover letter that you have back matter (or that you would be willing to write it if the editor is interested) on Phases Of The Moon (or whatever) to accompany the story.  If the editor feels it might enhance the book, you will submit it at their request.  I think this is a matter of personal preference.  But of course, if full comprehension of the story depends on the explanation provided by the back matter, then there is no option and the back matter should be mentioned in the cover letter and submitted with the story.

My approach is to lay all my cards on the table, as it were.  When submitting to houses that publish books with back matter, if I’ve got back matter, I submit it.  The way I see it, it may be an added appeal for the book.  If the editor doesn’t feel it’s necessary, she can always say she’d like to publish the story without the back matter.  But the presence of the educational component might be a deciding factor for an editor who is on the fence – a book that has a possible market in schools and libraries as opposed to retail-only has added potential for sales.

I hope that answers your questions somewhat, Alayne, but I would be very grateful to hear from our readers on this issue.  How do you handle back matter?  Do you format it differently than I do?  Please share – we can always benefit from the knowledge of the group!

Thanks, everyone, and have a great Monday and a great start to your week! 🙂

49 thoughts on “Oh Susanna – How To Submit Author Notes And Factual Back Matter?

  1. Iza Trapani says:

    Congrats to Renee! And I am not surprised!

    And thank you dear Susanna for including me in this post. So nice of you!!

    I like your approach of laying all the cards on the table. They can always say no. Or they may find it beneficial.

  2. Joanna Marple says:

    Thanks, Susanna. I always included my back matter with my manuscript, giving the agent/editor the option of reading it. I also add a separate word count for the back matter on my front page. I don't know what you think about that?

  3. Angela Brown says:

    Many congrats on new publications and celebratory applause for publications that have stood the test of time 🙂

  4. Tina Cho says:

    Great question, Alayne! I currently have a story with an author's note + “appendix” of some foreign words. So this was great to see how you handle it. I usually just add it to the end of the story, labeled accordingly. But I give a separate word count just for the story, rather than the whole thing. Thanks, Susanna. And congrats to Renee & Iza!

  5. Patricia Nozell says:

    Thanks, Susanna. And great question, Alayne. I have a story that I hope to send out soon with a glossary of industry-specific terms. Hadn't planned to include it with the submission, but you're post is making me revisit that view. I like the idea of indicating the word count of the author's note or glossary and including a bibliography; I think the presence of both strengthens the query, whether the actual material accompanies the submission or not.

    Congrats to both Renee & Iza!

  6. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Chocolate is the official snack for WEDNESDAY Nancy! But I'm sorry if you're feeling peckish and I didn't offer anything. I'll try to come up with something on Monday's in future 🙂 Any preferences? 🙂

  7. Clarike Bowman-Jahn says:

    Thanks for this post, Susanna, and for the thinking of adding chocolate of some kind in the future. In one of my books I'm writing right now I think I'd like to add some front or back matter so this was timely for me.

    Congrats to the authors and their books!! 🙂

  8. Romelle Broas says:

    Thanks so much for this question! Very timely as I am writing a story that could be enhanced with back matter.

  9. Rosi says:

    Terrifically helpful post. Thanks so much for this very thorough answer, Susan, and thanks Alayne for asking the question.

  10. pennyklostermann says:

    Excellent question and thorough answer. I've yet to write a manuscript with back matter, but one of my PiBoIdMo ideas would benefit from this and I have been wondering about it. Now I know 🙂

    Congratulations to Renee who delights us constantly, and to Iza whose talent is truly amazing!

  11. Patricia Tilton says:

    The timing of the question was good for me, because I've been wondering about back matter in two of my MS. I've seen how it is written in many books. Thanks for all the good advice.

    Congratulations to Renee — exciting! And, Congratulations to Iza. I gave Iza's latest book to my great granddaughter for Christmas and to my physician for her 3-year-old granddaughter. Both loved the book. Will have to browse through her earlier titles.

  12. Patricia Tilton says:

    This also leads to another question? A friend is publishing a new book and was asked to create a teacher's curriculum on her website. Fortunately she has a teacher friend who knew how to write a curriculum based on the core curriculum! I wouldn't know where to start.

  13. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Me either… so I get Shannon Morgan on the case, and I've heard Marcie Colleen is very good too! 🙂
    Susanna Leonard HillChildren's AuthorWebsiteBlogFace Book PageTwitter

    Subject: [susannaleonardhillblog] Re: Susanna Leonard Hill: Oh Susanna – How To Submit Author Notes And Factual Back Matter?

  14. Teresa Robeson says:

    Very interesting question! Thanks for your detailed answer, Susanna (and thanks, too, to Alayne for asking it). I hadn't given that much thought before but with a couple of PB drafts that are non-fiction in my WIP file right now, this could be very pertinent to me soon.

    And congratulations to Renee and Iza on their accomplishments!

  15. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Great question, Alayne…and super answer, Susanna! And the edit from Tina and Joanna about the word count was much appreciated.
    Congrats to Renee!!! That is wonderful.:) And I will definitely enter to win the Itsy Bitsy Spider book from Iza Trapani…I am just started to put together a gift package for my new granddaughter-to-be who is expected in April…a blanket I am crocheting…and some very special picture books.:)

  16. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Aw, so exciting 🙂 What a lucky grand-daughter 🙂 I just found out I'm expecting another grand baby at the end of August, but we'll have to wait til then to find out if I'm a grandmother or a grandfather 🙂

  17. alayne says:

    I'm behind on my weekly blog reading, so I just read this today. Susanna, your very detailed answer is so helpful. Thank you! It appears, from the comments, that the question is timely. It's great that in addition to helping me, it is helping other writers who had similar situations. I'm going to print it out, so I have a reminder of the details. Congratulations, Renee on your publishing success. Happy Anniversary Iza – Wow, twenty years! That's fantastic.

  18. alayne says:

    Patricia, I'm glad Susanna's answer to my question came out just in time for your upcoming submission. Best of luck.

  19. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thank you, Vivian! 🙂 Technically I am old enough, but I admit I cheated a little… it's my step-daughter who has a family now, and my step kids are quite a few years older than my kids 🙂

    Vivian Kirkfield wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    The best of congratulations, Susanna…are you sure you are telling the truth…I don't think you can be old enough to be a grandmother (or grandfather:)!

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  20. Tracy Campbell says:

    Congratulations, Renee and Iza
    Susanna, the info you provided is one I'll save and add to my writing binder. 🙂

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