February 27, 2015 @ 9:41 PM

Do you have a system for sorting the end matter of your book? Mine is hopeless.

Having recently finished cutting and revising the second draft of the current work, and sent it to my editor for a first read, attention has now turned to the Acknowledgements, References and Further Reading, and all the other material that has to go at the end of a published book...

...Chapter notes, photographs and illustrations, picture credits and captions – not to mention the horrors of an index.

I must say that, with me, the process of preparing the end matter is always a mess, and I wonder if anyone has a better method I could adopt?

In fairness, I do try to be systematic. I keep a list of contact numbers with the relevant book files on the computer, which is a good basis for the Acknowledgements page.

The trouble is that the list isn’t complete. There are some contacts I forget to put on the list – either because they’re people I know well, or have contacted only once or twice. If I'm to avoid the embarrassment and rudeness of omitting them from the Acknowledgements, it's a matter of scrambling through all the notebooks to discover missing names.

Whilst I usually number and use the same notebooks for each project, it's not always the case; and right to the end I'll find odd names I've forgotten scribbled on a scrap of paper or another notepad. Indeed, sometimes a name will come into my mind after we've gone to press, and I’ll have to insert it in the next reprint.

The References are much the same. If I have copies of the relevant books at home, it's a matter of going along the shelves, for I always keep the material together in the bookcase. Mostly. If I've copied particular pages from a library reference, I try to keep them with the imprint page in the chapter files for the book.

But again, things can get lost and forgotten. While I try to keep a running list of references on the computer, I'm afraid it's more consistent in its omission: and this present stage in the preparation of the manuscript requires a lot of frantic digging and scrolling through library catalogues trying to remember particular books, and worrying  I've left out something important.

Surely there must be a better way!!

Next week: Chapter Notes.




Further to recent posts on the rediscovery of old friends among the Circus people and my problems with the computer, I've found this week that quite a few of my literary companions were at risk of going missing!

Inspired by the Circus poems, I went to re-read a couple of other sets of poems and libretti written years ago – only to find that I couldn't open them. The computer software no longer supports the version of Word in which they were last saved.

I know it's possible to get them converted. But it's a pain. A very useful lesson, of course, in always backing up into a current format those manuscripts and letters you want to keep (something I've been very lax about doing).

That, and the crucial importance for a writer of always printing our work in hard copy. And of keeping it somewhere safe. Without it, I'd have been bereft when I went looking for more of my Auld Acquaintance the other night.