Following my recent train of thought, it seems increasingly obvious that the world of ebook writing lends itself to the inclusion of DVD-style ‘Extras’. Whereas before you purchased a novel and that is what you got, perhaps with an Introduction by a famous somebody telling you how they originally met the author at a cocktail party and what an awful drunk he was, you don’t get more than the text of the novel. Tolkien took it a step further with his Appendixes, and sometimes you might get a Cast of Characters or rather presumptuous Glossary, but really, that’s as far as it goes.
But with an ebook, why not take it a step further? What’s to stop an author from creating a dedicated website that the narrative hyperlinks to? You could have maps, histories, character profiles, character journals, alternative scenes, the author’s thought process, short stories set in the world, anything and everything that a dedicated fan might enjoy.
This works especially well with Fantasy/Science Fiction novels, because after all, one of the pleasures/onuses of writing in that genre is world creation, the details of which all aspiring authors are then warned to not insert into the novel in 1940’s style info-dumps. Instead, you are supposed to allow this richness of excessive creation to infuse the actual narrative though incidental details that hint at a greater and logical whole. When done right, this gives the reader a sense of a real world beyond the scope of the novel. Still, eager fans might enjoy having the author lay out this richness on a website, providing them with a buffet of content from which they can pick and choose as they savor the author’s world a little further.
Think about it: The Lord of the Rings DVD collection featured some 423 hours of Extras. I know people who have watched all of it several times, thoroughly smitten with everything LoTR, from Weta’s creation of weaponry to the camaraderie that sprang up between the actors. If you’re going to create an epic, or a series, then a smart author should invest some time in seriously considering some DVD extras.