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! 🙂