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Back matter in picture books

Started by MLR, April 02, 2024, 12:45 PM

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MLR

I am a novice writer working on a picture book series about a young Cuban child.  I have drafts for 6 stories in the series, three of which are critiqued, pretty well polished, and will, hopefully, soon be ready to submit.  Throughout the stories I have included Spanish words and phrases.  I am thinking about writing back matter for each book which would include a Spanish-English glossary and some basic information related to the theme of each book.  It might include a cultural celebration or a recipe, etc.
I have some questions about back matter:
•   is the back matter's word count part of the word count of the story?
•   when querying an agent and submitting a manuscript, would I also submit the back matter? Or would I just mention it in the letter? or let the agent ask about it?
•   there are numerous formats for how to provide the language translations in a picture book (glossary, in-line like 'amigo/friend', at the bottom of each page, etc). Who decides how to deal with the word/phrase translations – the agent, publisher, author?

Thanks in advance for your expertise and ideas!
'

JodyJS

No, the backmatter has its own word count, separate from the story text.
Yes, submit the backmatter, too.
The editor and book designer, along with the art director, decide how translations will be handled.

Good luck!
Starred Review, School Library Journal
NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2024
Oklahoma's Donna Norvell Masterlist 2025

JulieM

Totally what Jody said. Good luck.
Cheer Up, Blobfish! (Affirm Press, 2024) - https://rb.gy/9adkmb
www.juliemurphybooks.com

Vijaya

Everything Jody said.

Even though your back matter is separate, the editor and art director might decide that some of it works well as a side bar, but the way to submit is to have the main text, followed by back matter. Good luck!

Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
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Debbie Vilardi

In a fiction book, I'd use a glossary at the end in your submission and try to have enough context to help kids understand the Spanish terms. This is especially true for words in dialog. You want them to be how a person might speak. Something like, "This is mi amigo (friend) Juan" feels odd because no one does that and kids will get it without the support of more than art because the story will show they are friends. I hope this makes sense.
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

dewsanddamps

What everybody else said. Back matter can add to the strength of your submission. Just be sure to keep a copy of the ms with any citations (for the NF part) so you can send if an agent or editor asks for it. 
 :goodluck
Learning to Swear in America, 2016
What Goes Up, 2017
The Constitution Decoded, 2020
The Presidents Decoded, 2023
Hearts on Thin Ice, 2024

MLR

Thank you, everyone! You've been most helpful! I'm glad to know that it's the responsibility of the publisher and team to make the decisions about how to handle translations.  That takes some of the pressure off!

I'll check my dialog to be sure it reads like someone is actually talking and is not interrupted by a translation in parentheses.

One more question.  In considering what to include in the back matter other than a glossary, I had thought to add a few brief tidbits of information about Cuba that matches the theme of each story.  How are photographs handled when used in back matter?  It would seem I would need to use photos in the public domain or get permission from the photographer or purchase use of photographs plus include credit to the photographer(s)??
'

JodyJS

The publisher will secure photographs for the back matter, unless you have personal photographs that would be helpful, in which case, just mention [in brackets in the back matter] that you have personal photographs available. No need to actually paste them into your manuscript.
Starred Review, School Library Journal
NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2024
Oklahoma's Donna Norvell Masterlist 2025

JulieM

It varies between publishers. FWIW, this is what I do. If I am sending a manuscript to a few select publishers, I will include a few photos to give the idea of what I am intending (kind of like illustration notes, so only one or two if essential), citing the sources, which I have chosen from the internet. Sometimes I put one in the cover letter if it is particularly enticing.
This gives the publisher the chance to consider sourcing their own photos, which costs you less time and money, and takes the pressure off you to find photos that are of appropriate quality, content, price and copyright. (You would stipulate in the contract that you have a say in final choice of photos, ideally.) I have heard that some publishers (often the small ones) ask you to source photos, sometimes with or without a budget. I haven't experience in this and would find it stressful. From memory, I think there was a post in the February Nonfiction Festival - either this year or last - on sourcing images. Could be worth checking out NFFest on line if you need to source, eventually.
Cheer Up, Blobfish! (Affirm Press, 2024) - https://rb.gy/9adkmb
www.juliemurphybooks.com

dewsanddamps

My experience has been like Jody's--the publisher handles photographs just as they would handle illustrations.
Learning to Swear in America, 2016
What Goes Up, 2017
The Constitution Decoded, 2020
The Presidents Decoded, 2023
Hearts on Thin Ice, 2024

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