I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m one of those people that loves it when authors include secondary information or behind the scenes information about their books. I think especially for science fiction and fantasy, it really helps people explore more about the world behind the story and helps if you have a really complex worldbuilding.
I think these extra materials can be really enriching though for any story and I remember seeing these a lot more in children’s books and less more once you start getting into higher reading levels.
I think part of the reason these things have fallen out of favor is because these days readers can find so much “extra” content online either that was fan created or author created. A lot authors I see have had cool websites created for their books and stories or other fun things you can read on their blogs.
However, I think it would be fun if more people and publishers thought about including these more often in novels and series.
Granted, some of these are hard if you have an ebook and not a physical copy, but most of these items I think translate well to digital copies as well. Perhaps if a reader has an ebook version, they could find the extras to print out with a link or QR code included to scan.
The first one that comes to mind when I think of fun extras are food recipes. I remember seeing recipes in novels for muffins, soups, and breads. These are really fun to make, especially before reading the book so you can eat them as you read it.
I think this helps people connect with the books. Although not every author is good at creating recipes and a lot goes into that in order to create something tasty and that people can easily create at home.
I remember once I was working on a novel when I was younger and a bunch of people on Inkpop commented that they LOVED the meal she was eating when the book starts out. It was something I had randomly thought of and wasn’t expecting so many people to focus on.
Duck and star fruit.
I see maps a lot, especially with fantasy novels. So this really isn’t an uncommon extra for authors to include. However, I love it when authors can get maps of their worlds published. I’ve always enjoyed creating my own and I think a lot of factors go into map making.
I would love to see more of these cartographers credited though, because some of these maps are really detailed and complex!
My favorite is when the maps change with each book and then you can see how either the focus of the story is changing or how the world is reacting to the characters within.
Again, these are more children book focused or if an author gets their book reprinted as a graphic novel. However, I think it’s really fun when older audience books include illustrations and other graphics throughout the book.
I think it would be cool to see more page decoration not just on the chapter pages, but on the side panels throughout the chapter and other places as well. Especially for people who might not read very well or know the language the book is printed in, this might make it easier for them to follow along as well.
These are another type of extra that is pretty common among fantasy stories. These typically fall into several categories: specific characters or the nations, magic types, or other defining group characteristic of the people in the story.
Not every book includes these, but I do think there are some stories out there that would be really beneficial to include. Especially if they have complex magic systems or lots of characters involved.
I’m a big fan of glossaries in fantasy novels, especially if they include made up languages. However, I think they’re good for real languages too that the book being published in isn’t written in. For example, if the novel is being published in English or Italy but the characters sometimes speak Spanish or Korean, a basic glossary might help.
Google though is also your friend as well if an author is using a real language.
Regardless, I think glossaries are really fun to explore and they have helped me better understand a story and the context surrounding the events in the story when there’s one at hand to refer to.
I’ve occasionally seen DIY guides in novels, mostly in younger stories. However, I think these would be fun to include more often in adult or YA as well. If a character wears a bracelet a lot or knits or weaves or whatever, it would be cool if there was a guide on making a bracelet pattern like that or how to make a pot like in the story.
I know this really depends on the author’s popularity and sales and if it makes sense or the story or not. However, I think readers love it when they have more ways to connect with their favorite books and explore it from the author’s POV instead of always other fan ideas.
Cut Outs and Posters
So I remember getting a lot of cool things to cut out or free posters from magazines when I was younger. Those were really exciting and I think would be something that books could include as well. I’m also thinking along the lines of other paper objects like bookmarks and theme stationary and postcards that could be included in books.
Granted these are always hard when they become library materials. I’ve pulled out several magazines before where the poster or whatever was cut out already either by a librarian or by another patron – I don’t know!
Book club questions
I see these a lot more in older books, books that have multiple editions, reprinted versions, or more “book club type books” (like older women get together and “read books” drinking wine kind of stories).
I don’t see them as much in other stories, but I think they’re fun to include. This depends on how often the book is requested by book clubs I believe but I think any book can be a book club book if you try hard enough.
I used to see these more frequently before social media became really popular and these days not so much. I think that’s because it’s so easy for authors now to have more accessible interviews and participate in AMAs on Youtube, events, and other platforms.
However, I think there are some books that would be really enriched by including an interview of the author asking them to reflect on the books or if it’s a book that’s gotten a lot of attention, if they thought it would ever spark a national conversation around X topic.
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