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QR Codes: The Secret to Killer Paperback Backmatter

If you've been writing for any length of time, you've likely heard about the importance of backmatter for keeping readers in your worlds.


But how do you do that for readers who buy your paperbacks? This is a question I'm asked often because it's much harder to get read-through on paperbacks than it is ebooks.

Clicking on a link doesn't work for them because you can't click on paper to visit a website.

Links can be clunky, and it means readers have to take the book to their computer or balance typing into their phone or tablet while holding the paperback open. Neither of these are the path of least resistance.


The answer: QR Codes


If you're anything like me, these were the bane of your existence in a pre-pandemic world. I don't know why, but I hated these little buggers that looked like zoomed-in TV static. In fact, they may have been my first "grumpy old man" moment when I couldn't figure out how to use them.


Lucky for me, things changed with 2020. Once everything started opening up, I realized pretty quickly I'd better learn to use them if I wanted to order anything at a restaurant. I couldn't even rely on my old standards because the menus were pared down.


Yes, I know it's a total first-world problem, but the point is, I'm sure I'm not the only one who learned how to scan those squares so I could magically visit a website.


And now, I use them to my advantage.


Behold! Paperback backmatter!

This page only displays in the paperback version, and when someone scans this particular code, they'll be taken to this page on my site.

As you can see, the same principle applies here about getting the most important link in front of your reader right away. In this case, I want readers to buy the second book in the series, so I've linked directly to the paperback page.

Again, we want the process to be as quick and painless as possible for our readers!

That's great, Quinn, but how am I supposed to make that magically appear?

Okay, so there's no magic involved. And the first step is a doozy... you have to get your butt in the chair and your eyeballs away from social media.

Yes, I know you'd rather scroll than do something not fun, but I swear the rest of the process will be less painful than writing a blurb. WAY easier.

  • Create the page on your website. This, for some, is actually the hardest part. It doesn't need to be flashy, and if you already figured out what you're doing for backmatter in your ebook, you can use that information here, too! In fact, I copied most of the text here from my ebook backmatter

  • Remember where you're linking to. Quick and painless is the motto here. Make sure you change the store link to the paperback listing.

  • Create a QR Code linking to the page you created. Again, this could trip up some people. If you don't use a site like The Author Helper Suite (and really, this is one of my top 3 investments in my writing career, it's that valuable to me) you can visit the good friend of indie authors, Dave over at Kindlepreneur, and use the QR Code Generator tool they've built. Note: if you use this, I recommend not uploading a logo or book cover. It displays really small and falls under the shiny object header.

  • Format the page for your paperback. This is the easy part if you already know how to format your books or you hire someone to format them! I don't get super fancy with this page, although I've debated trying to do something to make it a bit more interesting. (See, even I'm not immune to shiny objects) The entire purpose of this page is to get readers to a place where they can easily access the next book in the series and anything else you have to offer.

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