The Importance of Backmatter

Have you ever heard the term “backmatter”? Before a couple days ago, the term was foreign, but like me, there’s a good chance you have encountered it if you have ever finished a book on a Kindle, iPad, or other e-reader.

Self-published author Courtney Milan writes, “the moment after someone finishes your book is the point when they are most favorably inclined to you as an author.” Thus, this is the perfect moment to initiate a call to action. After a short “thank you for reading my book” statement, she gives her readers a list of four things they can do, many of which they can do immediately using links in the text. These action items include:

  • Connect via social media with links to her mailing list, website, Twitter, and Facebook page
  • Write a review (welcoming both positive and negative reviews)
  • Share it with a friend if the ebook service offers lending
  • Read her other books through sample/purchase links, especially if it is part of a series

By providing specific actions, and especially by providing links so that they can do it immediately, the author is concretely capitalizing on the peak of the reader’s good will and interest. Even if the reader only chooses to connect through one of the links in point one, you have received permission to communicate with them in the future.

This concept can be applied to worship and church communication as well. When is your congregation/small group/online community most “favorably inclined” toward your work? What would you like to ask them to do in that moment? Or are there different moments when they are favorably inclined toward different types of actions?

Some thoughts and examples:

  • Churches generally do announcements at the beginning of the service, but everyone is usually just getting into the swing of things. Certainly, we don’t want to disrupt or devalue the act or flow of worship, but what if there were specific announcements from time to time that are actually a call to put the message for the day into action? Could you announce a mission trip or local service event toward the end of a message about serving others?
  • If you have certain content that is being shared a ton–a blog post, a video, a podcast episode, a particular sermon–could you add a welcome message that includes a call to action. Perhaps something like, “If this is your first visit to my blog, I want to welcome you! Here are links to some other posts similar to the one that brought you here <OR> Click here to join my mailing list and get posts like this one delivered directly to your inbox.
  • Utilize technology! Set up a number or email address that people can message quickly from their smart phones while they are in the moment.
  • If your church has a program for children or youth, is there something you can ask the parents to do quickly as they are picking up their sweaty, smiling kid who clearly loves being there?

Now its your turn! What kinds of things are you or your organization doing? What are the “most favorably inclined” moments? Are there any natural and easy calls to action you can institute in those moments?

Image by Flickr user José Antonio Alonso. Used under Creative Commons License. Cropped from Original.

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