A little moment of appreciation for Author’s Notes.
Of everything that goes into book publications, book covers seem to get the bulk of exposure. They receive constant praise for their beautiful art, are chided for misrepresenting their story’s content (1|2), and may be judged for any other detail bookworms can pick at. That’s what they get for being all out in the open—easy targets 😈🎯.
In comparison, there’s very little buzz about the Author’s Notes section in books.
Behind the book covers, tucked safely before or after the main story, author’s notes exist inconspicuously and don’t drive book sales for obvious reasons. However, even once readers finish a book, author’s notes are rarely referenced asides from the quick nod in a book review or the infrequent discussion they inspire.
Maybe there’s truly not much to say about them, which is fine, but it’s also a bit of a shame considering the thought authors put into writing them and determining where they fit according to the format of a book.
So, here’s my official Author’sNotesAppreciationPost✔️ where I consolidate all the reasons I like Author’s Notes, discuss how they affect book ratings, and question when they should be read. Let them not be in vain 💃🏽!
why i like author’s notes
After investigating and inexpertly philosophizing the meaning of 200 pages of text, it’s lovely to actually read an author’s intentions for writing it all. Being able to graze the words, “I wrote this story because…,” feels like I earned a certificate for completing the literature course that is The Book I Just Read.
It’s incredibly special when I can already guess or understand the thought behind a book because this means that the author is skilled. Although there’s nothing wrong with readers interpreting stories how they want, I think it speaks to an author’s talent if they can write an engaging story with clear themes.
Still, there are fantastic books that can use some clarifying, and the Author’s Notes is the perfect opportunity for just that.
Take historical fiction books, for example. These works that lend their inspiration to real events and characters lead me to constantly question what is true to history and what isn’t. Having the Author’s Note at the end, where the author neatly elaborates on what I wonder, is extremely valuable. On a small-scale, it saves me a google search and a few minutes of time. But, on a bigger-scale, it allows me to spread the stories in the books—the real and the fictional—accurately to an audience.
On top of all this, reading all of the nuances the went into the process of making a book—from the time its idea was born to all the tiny and huge decisions about POV, setting, and so on—allows me to respect the author more. Until I get to indulge the author and their perspective in their Author’s Note, it’s just me judging a book based on my own experiences and opinions.
That last point leads me to the next topic—
how author’s notes affect my book ratings
I am more likely to rate a book higher if I understand it, and I don’t just mean comprehending the words on the paper and being able to follow the plot. I like deeply grasping and resonating with the themes the author is sharing.
Think of a story that has a clear-cut, but ultimately bereft plot that fails to sell its message to you (the one popping to my mind is Internment by Samira Ahmed 😬). That’s the type of story I would finish reading and want to give 2 stars.
However, after reading an Author’s Note where the author beautifully words their inspiration for the story—in a way that actually captures me—I want to rate the book higher, and I usually do. It’s honestly only ever half a star, but that’s a visible, one-star difference when I round up for a Goodreads rating.
Now, practically all of the books I rate higher because of their Author’s Note place these sections in the back of the books, after the story. What does that mean for me?
when should the author’s note be read?
Until I came across this post, I never thought of reading an Author’s Note in any other order than it was placed in a book. But, apparently it’s a thing people do?
It’s a all a matter of preference, but some people favor reading Author’s Notes later because they may contain spoilers, while some find the extra info a useful guide before delving into a story.
This fact made me wonder if always reading the Author’s Notes after the main story, regardless of where it is placed, is best for me and my regard for the book. After all, that’s usually where they are when I decide to bump up a book’s rating 🤔.
I won’t be able to have a control, but maybe I’ll try doing an experiment-of-sorts on this topic 🤖...
the main points of this whole spiel are:
- I think we should give Author’s Notes more love!
- I love that Author’s Notes allow me to clearly understand the author’s process and intentions in writing a book.
- Author’s Notes can influence how I feel about a story for the better.
- People apparently don’t always read author’s notes according to their placement in a publication?
Annnnd, that’s all I got for this little appreciation post.
Thanks for reading 😄! What do you think? Are Author’s Notes worth any buzz? Do you even read them? How do they affect your book ratings?
And while we’re still on the subject… do you think Author’s Note should even be factored into a book’s rating? Or do you feel like they’re not pertinent to the heart of a book and unnecessary to consider?
Let me know 🙂!
Side note: I finally made a Twitter 🙈! I put it off for so long because, frankly, it scares me. But, the bookish community seems like it would be mostly civil on any platform, so now you can find me on Twitter too! It’ll be nice to finally release my word vomit about books I’m reading real-time 😅. Add me on Twitter!