Let's Have a "Look Inside" . . . At the Author's Note!
Written by
Sheryl Sorrentino
October 2012
Written by
Sheryl Sorrentino
October 2012

This week, The Floater got the best birthday gift I could have imagined, an endorsement from New York Times bestselling author Ken Morris (writer of financial thrillers Man in the Middle and Deadly Trade, as well as Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin). He called The Floater “The Rocky of legal dramas,” and remarked that “attorney and protagonist Norma Reyes . . . is often beaten down but never knocked out." It gets better: "Gritty and necessarily graphic, The Floater is a well-written and spellbinding ride through Lilly Ledbetter-glass ceilings and racial barriers. Shocking, uplifting, and enlightening, The Floater is a dramatic tour de force."

Wow. What more could I have possibly hoped for? (Okay, how about three or four more in-depth reviews popping up on Goodreads and Amazon—each of them displaying a sensitive grasp of my story and contributing unique insights to the collective conversation The Floater now seems to be generating? Check and done!)

But getting back to Mr. Morris, he also mentioned that he thinks the “Author’s Note” posted in the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon is ill-advised and might deter sales. Hmmm. This is the second time I have included a note at the end of one of my books to offer background information about my story, clarification of certain material contained in the book, and a personal message to readers. In this case, as a result of early feedback from test readers suggesting that the descriptions of “raw sex” and references to excrement contained within The Floater's pages might be troubling to some, I chose to elucidate my reasons for including explicit scenes that leave little to the imagination.

Perhaps in light of Mr. Morris's observation, my end note could use a re-thinking, but that begs the bigger question of whether comments I intended solely for actual readers of my book should be displayed on Amazon for the entire world to see. Know that I, as the author, get no say as to what Amazon decides to display on its site. In fact, they have twice screwed me over with their poor choices in this regard—first, by posting the Epilogue to Later With Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz, thereby giving away the ending, and now by printing the final pages of The Floater and thereby divulging—to quote Mr. Morris—"a spoiler of sorts" and my “sort-of apology” for some of The Floater's more graphic scenes.

Pondering the appropriateness of using "author's notes" to elucidate and explain a writer's intentions, I did some quick online research. According to the blog, Ink Splatters - LuCarly’s Fan Fiction Journal (http://lucarly.livejournal.com/3993.html), “the author's note is basically the author communicating to their readers and letting them know any information they should know.” And a contributor to the website Writer’s Beta commented, “I personally love it when an author takes the time to put an ‘author's note’ into the book. it makes it feel so much more like they're writing it for you.” (http://writers.stackexchange.com/ques...)

While I remain convinced that my note is both suitable and warranted, I liken it to the words a woman might whisper to her lover following an especially rousing tumble in the hay (“Sorry I farted in your face, darling, but your stunning cunnilingus performance made me lose all control.”) Such intimacies are never intended—or appropriate—before the shared act; only after someone has invested their time and effort in partaking of our imperfect delicacies do they earn such heartfelt requests for understanding and acceptance.

Calls to the publisher (Createspace) and Amazon provide no redress. Each claims not to be responsible for the selection of material. I was told I can reduce my “Look Inside” sample (with no guarantee which portion will be eliminated), or remove the “Look Inside” feature altogether (not a good option, since many prospective buyers—myself included—rely on these samples to gauge a writer’s talent and decide whether his or her ramblings deserve any further investment of time).

So, beware fellow self-publishers: If you’ve got spoilers, secrets or other sweet-nothings intended only for the faithful, these are all fair game for unauthorized disclosure on Amazon. I feel a bit “busted” right now—like Mitt Romney must have felt after his shameful “47%” comment got plastered all over the Internet. (And just as my personal "Author’s Note" might cost me a few prospective purchasers, I hope Romney’s remarks give voters something sobering to consider between now and election day.)

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