|They made me do it - in Gravity I lost the battle.|
But at least the note is funny.
I feel I have to put them in. The publisher tends to insist on notes, and I know they will moan if I don't stick in a few random cross-references. But, really! Does anyone ever follow a cross-reference? Nah, they're just there as a sort of intellectual security blanket. I occasionally get the urge to put in totally random page numbers - but of course I don't.
And don't get me started on notes.
I have a regular battle with publishers over these bits of useless information. I don't really want to do notes at all, but if I have to, which is usually the case, I insist on putting them in with page references on the note, but nothing in the main text. A couple of times (as in the illustration) a publisher has pulled numbered references on the main text on me, converting my original to this format, and I hate it. Numbered references break up the reading flow. This isn't a text book. It isn't a reference book. It's popular science - a book that should read fluidly. However subtle you make it, a numbered reference in the text will distract you.
What it won't do, though, is send the reader scurrying to the back of the book to follow it up. Because no one looks at them. Well almost no one. The only people who ever make use of reference notes are other authors who are cribbing bits out of your book and want to have an identified source. For their notes. Anyone else who claims to enjoy ploughing through notes like this is just showing off.
Oddly, though, I have just gone against my 'breaks the flow' rule with a book I have in the edit for later in the year. For reasons I don't understand, it cried out as I wrote it to have little expansion notes at the bottom of the page, with their inevitable numbers or asterisks in the text. I really don't know why it happened. It's a bit like when fiction authors say that a character does something they didn't expect. It just seemed the right thing to do.
But this is quite different from end notes that are just references to sources. They are cringe-makingingly painful. Publishers please take note (ahem).