Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Author Notes? Do you read 'em?

I am thrashing through the draft of a much-belated Author's Note for Leaden Skies (good thing my notes appear at the end of my books), and have a question:

Do you read Author Notes/Afterwords/whateveryoucallem ... those little essays at the end of books that discuss references, give more background on time/place of a novel/reveal a bit of the author's thinking for that particular book?

See my little survey, off to the left, and let me know.

I've been told reviewers don't read them. I guess I'm wondering about readers in general, and if these notes are worth the fuss and bother of writing them. It does take a fair bit of time to plow through my old notes (e-notes and hard copy), pull together the references I've used, and then try to weave it all into a coherent essay. So, I'd love to know what you think.

Thank you, one and all!

15 comments:

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Whether I read after notes depends on the book. There are times I don't want the book to end and will read it through to the back cover. Other times, I'm more than ready to move on.

Jane Kennedy Sutton
http://janekennedysutton.blogspot.com/

Ann Parker said...

Good point, Jane. If a book doesn't hold my interest, I'm not likely to check any afterword/author's notes...

Bluestocking said...

I've only read the notes for Tolkien. You may consider putting. Historical bits in footnotes throughout the book. Stephenie Barron did that in the Jane Austen Mysteries. It made it a more interesting read.

Katie Hines said...

I really enjoy reading the back posts in a book, especially when I wonder how much of a book is based on fact, and how much on fiction.

©DGreer said...

This blog gets better by the day - I'm seriously proud of you, gal. And I do read the author notes. Every word. :)

Dani
http://blogbooktours.blogspot.com

Ann Parker said...

Ah, I shall have to check out the Jane Austen series. I've not heard of anyone doing footnotes in fiction before.
Katie: Sounds like you're my kind of reader! I write the notes for folks like you. I always figure if someone's not interested, they can ignore it.
Dani: Thank you! I'm actually going to let this post stand for a day longer and see if perhaps I can get some more data before moving on to another topic (the glories of dashes and ellipses, maybe? ;-) ).

Elizabeth Loupas said...

I love author notes. I'm like Katie... I like to know the historical underpinnings of a story, the bits and pieces that might not have made it into the story, and the glimpse into the author's way of relating to the time period. Does that makes sense?

Elizabeth
www.elizabethloupas.com

Jonathan E. Quist said...

I don't think a formal essay is necessary, but if there is relevant, interesting information in the author's research that was not necessary to the story, then I not only read them but consider them little gifts.

I'm writing in Chicago in the 1920s - a period near enough to be mostly familiar, but far enough to be somewhat alien to modern readers, and while I am not writing truly historical fiction, as much as possible I am dropping the action into the midst of real history. Because of familiarity, footnotes would be more a distraction then a help.

It happens that my timeline straddles the 1919 Chicago race riots. There is no way to weave that into my story without appearing exploitive - but I cannot in good conscience, and out of respect for those who died, ignore the events. It's going into the end notes. (A week before the action starts, Chicago experienced the nation's first large aviation disaster, when the Goodyear airship "Wingfoot Express" crashed through the skylight of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank. It would have still been in the papers, but if I mention a blimp crashing through a roof, likely nobody will believe it. End notes.)

I would not expect reviewers to read the end notes - they're not part of the story, after all.

Jen said...

I love to read author notes, no matter if they are in reference to historical elements in the novel or just info about the process to publication. I've picked up so many fascinating tidbits in those sections that I don't dare miss them. I've been known to be a busybody, though! :)

Suzanne Adair said...

I enjoy reading author notes in the Afterword. Heck, I put a historical afterword in *my* novels, so I guess it's like practicing what I preach to read other authors' notes. :-) Seriously, I'm such a geek that I find the little bits of information in an Afterword fascinating, especially in historical fiction.

Suzanne Adair
www.suzanneadair.com

Camille Minichino said...

I always read them after I've read the book since I don't want to take a chance that something will be a spoiler!
I think putting footnotes in would take me out of 1880 ...

Morgan Mandel said...

If I really love a book, I want to keep reading everything about it. Otherwise, I don't bother reading the notes.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Annay Dawson said...

I'm most of the people here. If I really have a hard time letting the book end I will keep reading all that the author gave me. Some books don't need it, others it is really interesting to find out how they got their ideas and information.

Ann Parker said...

Thank you all!
I'm convinced.
I'll plug away on the edit of the note for LEADEN SKIES and get it off to the publisher (and off my to-do list) this weekend!

Cheryl said...

It depends on the book for me. If the book hasn't captured my interest enough, then I don't bother. But there are some books that you want to know everything about.

Cheryl