Thursday, October 13, 2016

An Author's Note By ~Suzy Leopold

I’ve been thinking about the importance of Back Matter and how it adds another layer to a story. Back matter may include a bibliography, a glossary, a timeline, even additional facts and information serve as a resource to supplement the text. 

One element that is sometimes included is an author’s note. I want to acquire more information on how and why to compose an author’s note.
  • What is an author’s note? 
  • What is the purpose of an author’s note?
  • What should be considered when including an author’s note in the back matter of a manuscript? 
Believing in the value of learning and growing, I began researching this particular element and discovered it is a meaningful addition to back matter. 

I began my research by reading author’s notes written in a stack of currently published picture books. I used these books as mentor texts and began seeking answers to the questions about writing an author’s note.
Time to learn and grow. 

You’ll need a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. Write the numbers one through twelve and answer the following statements as true or false.

An author’s note is:

1.  A brief explanation about the creation of the book.

2.  A statement of purpose.

3.  The inspiration and insights behind the story.

4.  Sharing the journey of research and discovery about the manuscript.

5.  The story behind the written tale.

6.  Not limited to the genre of nonfiction.

7.  May be surprising, compelling and/or revealing.

8.  Adding layers of meaning and a bigger picture to the subject matter.

9.  A sneak peak into the creative process.

10. Enhancing the reading experience for the audience.

11. The last chance to make an impression on a reader.

12. An element that every reader should try.

Did you answer TRUE to all twelve statements? If you did, you are correct. 

Excellent! Super! Good job! Great! High five!

The four picture books that I read and studied the author's notes are:

By Pat Miller
Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016

By Pat Mora & Libby Martinez
Illustrated by Patrice Barton
Alfred A. Knopf 2014

By Barb Rosenstock
Illustrated by John O'Brien
Calkins Creek 2013

Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation
By Duncan Tonatiuh
Abrams Books for Young Readers 2014
Let’s continue to learn and grow together. Share your knowledge and understanding of an author’s note. Perhaps you have some additional thoughts and tips. Post what you know in the comments below.

Writers know that words are fundamental to writing. Choosing the just right word is essential. Selecting the just right vocabulary is important when writing a story that draws and engages readers.

The German word for vocabulary is wortschatz. Translated it means “treasure of words”. May you choose words selected from your treasure box of words and write the right words for your manuscript and for an author’s note.


  1. Great post, Suzy! I like reading authors' notes to find out the nitty gritty.

    1. Oooh, Tina! I like that description--the "nitty gritty".

  2. Great idea to study author notes in NF books. Glad mine could assist! :-)

    1. Your author's note about the master mariner from Maine is like a second story within the story of THE HOLE STORY OF THE DOUGHNUT.

      Thank you, Pat.

  3. Wonderful post. I happen to love all those books, so I smiled reading this.

    1. And you put a smile on my face, Ellen, for reading this GROG post.

  4. Appreciations, Suzy, for sharing this path to their "treasure of words" by these authors. I have read & loved two of these (Pat's HOLE & Barb's LIBRARY. Now I plan to read the others.

    In addition to the spot-on dozen reasons here, an important job of my authors' note in SHE SANG PROMISE was to provide context for the readers & about how I came, on a long path, to write outside my culture.

    1. Thank you for sharing the purpose of your author's note for your wonderful book, SHE SANG PROMISE.

      Sending appreciations your way, Jan.

  5. I, too, am fascinated with the 'why' of the story. Very helpful post, Suzy . . . and one to bookmark!

    1. I find the back matter included in picture books to create another layer of learning.

      Thank you, Jarm, for bookmarking this GROG Blog post.

  6. Thank you, Suzy. I love reading the authors' back matter. It's like icing on the cake!

    1. And such sweet icing it is.

      Thank you, Charlotte.

  7. Suzy, this is a great post. It is helping me rethink my author's notes on my biographies.I have read all but one of these books. I will go back and reread the author notes. So helpful!!

    1. You are welcome, Sherri. All the best as you revise your author notes.

  8. I am so glad this was written for us. I have always resisted sharing my author's note. It seemed too much like a quirky short story about how I came to write my work. I thought it was suppose to be a more sterile bit of "how I came to . . ." information. Thank you for this.

    1. Your comment and appreciations warm my heart, Pam.

  9. Thanks for delving into author notes, Suzy. I think they are becoming more and more important for picture books rooted in nonfiction. Three of my yet-to-be-sold manuscripts (still trying!) have author notes, so I've studied quite a few of them. My first attempts were bogged down with too much information. I discovered that the notes I liked the most were narrow in focus, presenting the information that fleshed out only the story that proceeded it. THE TREE LADY by H. Joseph Hopkins was one I'd recommend to read. A writer can also be creative with their author's note, like the "Album" format in FINDING WINNIE by Lindsay Mattock, (gloriously illustrated by Sophie Blackall).

    1. Thank you for the reminder of two excellent tiles, THE TREE LADY & FINDING WINNIE, that include author's notes, Patty. I am pleased to know that you included author's notes in your manuscripts.