Ordering Your Book’s Front Matter and Back Matter

No one ever got into book publishing for the love of designing a copyright page. But the front matter and back matter have to get done. Fortunately, it’s easy.

Publishing with Another Company

When you publish your book through another company you don’t think about designing the copyright page or assigning an ISBN. Those tasks fall to the publisher, who also arranges for the book to be copyrighted, whether in the publisher’s name or yours.

You’ll write your own author’s introduction (also called preface); the dedication, to whomever or whatever inspired you during the writing of your book; and the acknowledgments page, where you thank everybody who gave you support and encouragement along the way.

You’ll format the table of contents. And you’ll track down and invite someone with credibility in your field and marketability in the book-buying world to write the foreword using my three-step approach: locate them; ask them; persist.

They go in the following order:

  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Author’s Introduction
  • Acknowledgments

If you want to begin your book with a quote that captures the essence of your entire book, it goes between the dedication and the table of contents and is called the epigraph.

These items are all elements of the front matter, the pages that precede page 1 of your manuscript. There are other elements but the publisher takes care of them.

Back matter includes any appendices and lists of additional sources that you created or compiled to add value beyond your main text; and an index (see “Your Book Index: DIY or Farm Out?”).

Publishing Independently

When you publish your own softcover print on demand (POD), you have to add those front matter elements that we ignored above:

  • Book half title
  • Series title, frontispiece, or blank
  • Title page
  • Copyright page

For ebooks, independent publishing guru Guy Kawasaki, in his APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book, suggests the following abbreviated elements to follow the cover:

  • Blurbs
  • Table of contents
  • Foreword or preface (but not both, nonfiction only)

That’s it. And then go right into chapter 1.

Working with Sampling

Those other traditional elements of the front matter, Guy suggests, you can put in the back so that potential readers who want to sample your book can get to the main text sooner and see more of it than of the front matter.

Sampling is a voluntary percentage of the book that you will allow the platforms that sell your book to make freely available to viewers. It is a concept in the electronic world comparable to browsing in the print world, except that in the electronic world, you can limit the number of pages viewers may browse.

Whatever percentage you choose, you want as many of those pages as possible to be main text, not front matter. No one ever bought a book because of an alluring copyright page.

One feature of your POD’s back cover is testimonial quotes, or blurbs. Ebooks don’t have back covers so, suggests Mark Coker, creator of Smashwords, put them all the way in front and title the page “What Others Are Saying about [Your Title].” He encourages you to keep them short and not use too many for the same reason that Guy suggests you move the other front matter elements to the back: so samplers can get to the main text more quickly and see more of it.

Upgrade Your Back Matter

Mark suggests sprucing up the back matter by adding some promotional elements:

  • Final Word to Readers: Thank your readers for reading your book; encourage them to write an honest online review.
  • Call to action: Next steps after finishing your book, like checking out your website or signing up for your newsletter.
  • About the Author: Introduce yourself to your readers.
  • Other Books By: Include URLs (POD) or live links (ebook) to your website or your other books.
  • Connect with Me Online: Links to your social media sites and Smashwords author page. (You’ll want to change that to your Amazon author page and change the file name before uploading to Amazon.)
  • Instructions on how to purchase in bulk at discount off cover price.
  • Samples of another book: For you fiction writers whose novels fall within the same genre, this is a great way to plug your upcoming book.

That’s It

What the subheading just said.

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This piece was adapted from Ken Wachsberger’s You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You. Ken’s other books may be found here and here. For book coaching and editing help, or to invite Ken to speak at your meeting, email Ken at [email protected].

Schedule your complimentary 30-minute coaching and editing session now.

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