Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Front Matter" Matters

I’m currently working on what’s called the “front matter” for my next book and so I've been rereading what I wrote in COUNTDOWN TO DEATH, the first book in my Magnolia Medical series. The front matter includes the author’s Bio, Dedication, Scripture Verse, Dear Reader letter and Questions for Discussion.

An author’s bio usually remains fairly constant from book to book, but the dedication changes and is one of the first things I read when I buy a new book. The dedication provides a glimpse into the author’s life and the people who may have influenced the story’s creation.

I dedicated my current release, COUNTDOWN TO DEATH, to the laboratory professionals with whom I have worked, especially my former coworkers at Peachtree Regional Hospital. I also mentioned my hubby and children, my critique partners and my editors and agents.

In the Dear Reader letter, I talk about how issues in the past can keep a person from truly living in the present. My characters, Luke Garrison and Allison Stewart, learned that by turning to God they could move beyond the pain of their past to a place of love and acceptance. I hope readers will enjoy reading Allison and Luke’s story. Hopefully, the lessons my characters learned will ring true.

The Questions for Discussions at the back of the book are tools for group discussions, but individual readers can gain insight from them as well. I usually turn to the questions after I’ve finished reading a story as they can sometimes be “spoilers” if read first. The questions often reveal new facets or subtle nuances of the story that I may have overlooked.

Authors spend time writing the “front matter” for their stories, which, hopefully, enhances the reader’s enjoyment.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the “front matter.” What do you like/dislike about the various sections?

Happy reading! Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti


Ellen said...

I almost always read the front matter. What I like to see in this space is why the author chose this topic. And if it is a continuity maybe a little about the previous book/books. Maybe something about the setting of the book. Also if a character in the book has a "condition" that affects him/her maybe a little information about it that doesn't fit well in the story itself.

Debby Giusti said...

Great info. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes we wonder if folks actually read the front matter. Nice to know you do!

I'm with you. I like to get a little "more" about the story, which comes out in the Dear Reader Letter and Questions.

Anita Mae said...

Hey there Debby, good topic.

When I see a book, I always read in this order:

- genre/line
- author
- is it a series book?
- back blurb
- front excerpt
- reader page (for series info)

If that all sounds interesting, I'll buy the book. I have to add at this point, however that there are a handful of authors that I adore and will buy their books on sight regardless of line. (You and Margaret Daley are examples for LIS.)

When I get to it in my TBR pile, I'll read:

- back blurb (yes, again)
- front excerpt ( ")
- bio (changes in the author's life?)
- dedication page (who did she credit for info)
- scripure verse
- start reading the book at the beginning (no peeking for the end)
- questions for discussion

Now my hubby on the other hand, who reads every Love Inspired that I do, refuses to read any info about the book. If I put it in his TBR pile, he reads it starting at the beginning of the story. I mean he doesn't read the back blurb or the front excerpt.

I don't understand how he can do that. I want to know who the hero and heroine is so I recognize them right off the bat. Hubby says he doesn't want to ruin the story.

So, there ya go...

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Anita Mae,
You're such a doll!!! Thanks for the insights into how you attack a book! :) You and hubby differ. Isn't that always the way?

Thanks for your kind words about my books!

Keep us posted on your submissions, okay?