Author notes in historical mysteries, and the spoiler problem
I love writing author notes. In fact I love it so much that I wrote 33 pages for The Ionia Sanction and had to do some extreme cutting to get it back to a mere 17 pages. Don't panic, the author note for The Pericles Commission comes in at a svelte 8 pages.
But there's a slight problem with the author note for any historical mystery. Because it's, you know, a mystery, where someone got killed, and someone did it, and it's pretty much impossible to write about the history behind a real murder without giving away some plot.
It never occurred to me, the editor, the executive editor, or anyone else, that the author note might need a spoiler alert, because it's right at the back of the book. Until no less than Steven Saylor himself pointed it out when he read the ARC. It turns out he and others like to turn to the back and read the author note first. Soat the last minute we inserted an alert in the first paragraph of the author note (at least, I hope we did...I myself haven't seen the final book yet). But the ARC doesn't have an alert, so if you're holding the ARC, don't read the author note until you've read the book!