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the end of a professionally written book

Ending Your Book Professionally

There are writers who begin with the end in mind. This practice has the same appeal as taking a break to do your chores in the middle of a writing session. A story can be a long journey without an apparent destination, while a chore just ends at some point.

Then again, ending a book is more than just writing “the end.” It can even become a chore too, what with all the parts you have to figure out. Let us help you with that.

Some time ago, we covered the basic difference between an epilogue and an afterword, but here we’ll list and define all the things that readers can expect to find at the end of a professionally written book.

Part of a bookFictionNonfictionDefinition
EpilogueYesNoTakes place within the story. Frequently serves to tie up loose ends, jumping a bit ahead in time to show how things turned out. May also hint at things to come in the sequel.
ConclusionNoYesSums up the text. A good place to make parting inferences, predictions, and thought-provoking questions.
PostscriptYesYesAdds brief new info after a narrative has come to an end.
AfterwordYesYesProvides commentary on the book’s development, relevance, etc. Often written by an authority other than the author. Usually found in reprints.
EndnotesYesYesNotes relating to passages (denoted in the body by superscript numbers). Listed numerically.
BibliographyNoYesLists references that were cited in the body. Usually follows APA, MLA, or CMS style.
GlossaryYesYesA list of specialized vocabulary or terms and their definitions. Listed alphabetically.
AppendixNoYesTables, diagrams, maps, charts, photographs, and illustrations appear here.
IndexNoYesSimilar to a glossary but without definitions. Also points to the pages where the terms can be found.
Copyright permissionsYesYesLists copyrighted materials with attribution and credit.
Discussion questionsYesYesLists questions about the book meant to guide discussions in a class or book club.
Further readingNoYesLists additional references that may be of interest to the reader.

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