Clickity Clack

In October, I attended several conferences, one of which was very focused on the digital book market. The sessions were pretty interesting, and I came home with a long list of things to do. One of the phrases that sticks in my mind is “ensuring a rich end-of-book experience for the reader”. That’s marketing-speak of a variety I don’t often hear since my departure from the corporate universe. I think it was the publicity and marketing person from Open Road who said it. It’s a reference to what is called “end matter” in printed books.

That’s all the stuff that comes after the end of the actual book.

In print publishing, the end matter often includes an excerpt from the author’s next book – that might be a linked title or it might not be. End matter can include some ads, for the author in question or for another author who writes in the same sub-genre, and it might include the author bio. That’s usually about it. It’s not a particularly rich experience, partly because adding more pages to the book increases the cost of producing it. If those pages aren’t strictly necessary, they will be left out – and even excerpts usually have to be edited hard to fit within the allotted space.

In digital books, though, length is less of an issue. Although a huge book or one with a lot of images would cost more to download, the incremental cost of adding a couple of thousand words is negligible. So, we can easily add more stuff to the back of each book. In addition, a lot of “front matter” has migrated to the end of the book, since readers of digital books like the digital book to open right at the beginning of the story. In a print book, the front matter will include review quotes, the copyright page, the list of the author’s other works in print, maybe a letter from the author to the reader and maybe a teaser. (That’s often on the first page.) In a digital book, as much of that can move to the back.

In addition, there are some quirks specific to digital books. Because there is no physical book, the outside cover doesn’t automatically travel with the inside content of the book itself. Most portals and their engines now include the front cover image in the book file during the conversion process, sizing it as appropriate for the device in question. I also include the cover copy in my digital books, so readers don’t have to go online to read it again.

Last but not least, the expectation has developed that digital books will include a navigable table of contents.

Which is how we come to today’s title, Clickity Clack. “Navigable” means that the table of contents is full of hotlinks. You can click on Chapter One in the table of contents, and leap right there. That’s pretty basic and maybe it’s useful, but what enriches the end of book experience is adding even more links than the chapter links to those digital books.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks uploading new versions of the digital books that I’ve published, ensuring that all of the front matter and end matter is included in the table of contents and is hotlinked. (Clickity click click, clickity click clack.)

I’ve also added hotlinks into those materials – you can click to subscribe to my newsletter, for example, where it’s listed in my contact info, or click on a series in the bibliography to visit the appropriate page of my website. (In German, Click Here is Clicken-Sie Hier.)

You can click to go to my Facebook pages, click to visit this blog, click to find the monthly contest posts on the blog or click to read the posts categorized as Wild West Thursdays. (In French, Click Here is Cliquer Ici. Say Click-kay EEEEcee.)

Finally, I’ve added a second excerpt to each book – not only is there an excerpt for the next book in the series, but there’s also an excerpt from a book published under my other author brand. The links on the book titles will take you to my website pages, so you can follow the buy links to the portal you want.

Clickity click click, clickity click clack.

My book files are now filled with linky goodness for those of you who like to click. I hope this means they now offer a richer end of book experience. Either way, they’re more fun.

If you bought older versions, just ask the vendor to supply you with the shiny new one. You can tell that the new version is available on your portal, because I’ve included a note in the descriptions that list the included excerpts.

Clickity click click, clickity click clack.

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