Appreciating Author’s Notes // why I like them, their affect on ratings, and when should they be read

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.

where is the buzz?

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 🤖...

to summarize,

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.

and

  • 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!

WHERE ELSE TO FIND ME: GOODREADS / YOUTUBE / TWITTER / BLOGLOVIN’ / TUMBLR / KO-FI

30 thoughts on “Appreciating Author’s Notes // why I like them, their affect on ratings, and when should they be read

  1. I always read the author’s note, if only because they give way more insight into the reasons behind writing the book but it’s also a way to get to know the author better. [That and it’s also a fun way to see if they write any differently outside of their story, haha.] There are a few books I actually teared up after reading the author’s note so.. they’re important and it’s a shame so little people read them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yess, I’m so glad! And that’s true!! It is interesting to see how authors change their writing styles 😄. I feel you! There’s a good number of books where I’ve felt more of an impact from the author’s note than the actual story. Hopefully, people can see the beauty in them 🙂.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this discussion so much, Belle! And I feel like it’s especially relevant to me because I just finished a book with a wonderful author’s note (Anna K by Jenny Lee) ❤
    I for one love author’s notes!! I love seeing an author’s intention behind writing the story. And when it’s a historical fiction book, I love getting to know what particular liberties the author took concerning history. I also like knowing which actual historical fact/s they based something in their book off of.
    Basically, author’s notes are the best, and I’ll always read them. Not just because I have this weird habit of reading everything in a book (acknowledgement, dedication, etc.), but because author’s notes are like extra content. sorta like a behind the scenes or an interview with them somehow? (I don’t think author’s notes affect my rating of the book though, purely because I don’t view them as part of the story itself, if that makes sense. But maybe I just haven’t come across the right author’s note yet.)
    Bottom line, I need you to know that you write such awesome discussions!! you are one of the most thoughtful people I know, no joke 🥺 i’ve never met a reader who felt this strongly about author’s notes (and that’s the highest compliment, haha) ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooo, Anna K is high on my TBR now!! I’m so happy you don’t skip the author’s notes! That’s actually such a great habit to be conscious of all the separate sections of a book—my appreciation starts at the story and ends at the author’s notes hahaha 😅. And I think “behind-the-scenes” is the best way to describe an author’s note 😮!! I figured not everyone considers them in their ratings, and I completely get your reason 🙂.
      Thank you so much for you sweet comment, Caitlin 🥺💛. I don’t know if the things I make discussions about even need discussions half the time hahahaha. But /your/ thoughtful replies always make my day and I need you to know that 😭✌🏽♥️.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your post, Belle!
    I’m sorry I haven’t stopped to comment much lately!
    Authors notes are definitely super duper fun to read, and so are dedications. Like I read ToG three (?) times before I read the AN and found out she started the story on FictionPress!
    I love reading them now, and especially for all the reasons you said like finding out the motivation behind a story that can change your perspective on the book.
    ❤❤❤
    – Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Emma ♥️! No worries, you never have to apologize 😁💕—I’m not the greatest at commenting either 😅.
      That’s awesome that the AN gave you that bit of insight, and I’m so glad you love them in general now 😄!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To be honest, I haven’t given a lot of thought to authors notes! I think they’re not often in the books I read, (I’d know because I do often read the acknowledgments because I’m curious :P) But when they are there (or when classics have an essay/introduction in front by a completely different person) I generally read them after I read the rest of the book, because of spoilers, but also because I want to make up my own mind about a story first. But it’s always so interesting to read authors’ own thoughts behind their work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, I always skip the acknowledgements, but it seems like I won’t now! That’s interesting to find out that you prefer to read them afterwards though! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lotte 😄!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love author’s notes because they connect you to the author in a really personal way. The general consensus is when an author publishes a book, it’s not theirs anymore. An author’s note is a way, I think, for authors to transition to “giving” their books to their readers? If that makes any sense, lol 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to read the author notes section especially when I read murder mysteries because I always wanted to know where the writer got their inspiration from or if there was a true story behind it. But I think many people don’t read author notes because sometimes, that section is just not interesting as compared to the actual book despite it being a part of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh, that makes sense! Sometimes author’s notes seem to be included in books out of convention, so they don’t add much insight or value if they’re read. I can see why people wouldn’t even bother reading them then. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂!

      Like

  7. I love author’s notes so much, and agree with everything you said. I think they can give a look into why an author is so passionate about a topic or about telling a character’s story. I especially love Helen Hoang’s author’s note in The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test, both of them are very personal; she talks about the experiences or people that shaped the stories.
    Also, I remember reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand and feeling like the topic of grief was handled really-really well… and then she shared in the author’s note that she went through the same thing as the MC and my heart broke for her. *cries*
    Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much—I’m so glad you can agree 😄! And this is the second time I’m hearing about Helen Hoang’s author’s notes! I need to read her books ASAP 😮! I know I’m going to cry too haha. Thank you so much for sharing those books with me, Veronika 😄!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah this is such an interesting post, Belle and such a timely one, too! I just finished reading Girl, Serpent, Thorn and there was an author note at the end of it and it was SO interesting to understand a little more about the author’s different inspirations and the mythological aspects that came into the story, too, I loved reading it and I feel like it brought such a new dimension to the story I just read, too. I appreciate these kind of notes so much! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love Author’s Notes so much!! And I am so glad to see someone else giving them the attention they deserve. I am the kind of person that usually reads a book from front to back – it makes me feel bad if I skip the acknowledgements – so I always read the author’s notes. I agree that they often give important context to the story – All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle has a great section that I admit, affected my rating in a positive way.
    I don’t think I could read the notes before the story – I am just so afraid of spoilers – but I would for sure be interested if you did an experiment!
    Awesome post Belle!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yess, exclamation points 😂!! I love that you love author’s notes, /and/ that you read books front to back ✊🏽. I’ll have to check out All the Bad Apples to see how great the author’s section is!
      I’m not sure I could take any spoilers from the notes too 😅, but I won’t completely disregard a shoddy experiment haha.
      Thank you so much, Sabrina 🙂! It’s really lovely reading your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy you enjoy them too 😄! And that’s so awesome to hear about The Never Tilting World!! I just checked it out from my library yesterday! I can’t wait to get to the author’s note now 😮. Thank you, Cam 😄!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I always read the author’s note in every book before or after finishing a book because it feels like I miss out an important part of the story if I just skip it 😂 Although they never influence my rating

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! A small part of my brain worries that the story continued into the author’s note somehow 😅😂. Thank you for reading this and sharing your thoughts 😄!

      Liked by 1 person

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