Friday, July 15, 2011

Author's Notes: To Add, or Not to Add?

During the panel “Writing Biographical Fiction,” Dr. Fredrick Ramsay asked the audience if they like it when the author includes notes at the end of the book saying what was real and what wasn’t.
Everyone unanimously agreed that they liked author notes.
“Some people even read the notes before they read the book,” said an audience member.
We all groaned. It’s hard to believe anyone would do something so awful. When my book gets published, don’t any of you dare read the author notes first.
Kate Quinn and Michelle Moran told me it’s a good way to cover your ass. Historical fiction authors get plagued by emails that whine over inaccuracies, so they make a preemptive strike. They tell readers they’re aware of what’s inaccurate and why they wrote it that way.
The trouble with historical fiction readers is they feel so brilliant when they notice an inaccuracy. They swell with pride and announce their intelligence to anyone who will listen, at the expense of the author.
That reminds me; during the panel “Editor Author Relationship,” someone actually pointed out that the model on the cover of Madame Tussaud wasn’t wearing a powdered wig. I couldn’t believe someone would be so tacky!
Michelle explained there was a flour shortage in France during the Revolution, so people had to stop powdering their hair. Ms. Tacky would have known this if she read the book.
“I feel author notes are absolutely necessary,” said Joyce Elson Moore. “We owe it to the readers to tell them what was real and what wasn’t.”

Author's notes might be necessary, but some are better than others. To read about how to write author's notes at the end of your book, you can read my post "Author's Notes that Ruin a Novel." 


  1. But, I love reading the author's notes first.

    The same way I like reading the blogs about the books first.

  2. ... also there is a contest the public slushpile blog ... you should enter it.

    For fun, if anything.

  3. Shame on you, McClappin'.

    I entered the contest. That WAS fun!

    Readers, the challenge is to show-not-tell in a short story why a person doesn't like pizza. Let me know if any of you enter.

  4. I love author's notes after I read an historical novel. To me, the author's note is the cherry on top of a sundae. An imperfect metaphor, as most people eat the cherry first ... er, and I actually never eat the cherry on sundaes. But you get the idea. :)


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