You may have heard the terms “front matter” and “back matter” in relation to books and wondered what they are and why they matter.
As their names indicate, they contain material placed at the beginning and at the end of the book, and are not part of the story itself. This is generally information about the story and the author, and usually includes the table of contents, dedication, acknowledgements, etc.
The contents of the front and back matter have changed slightly with the advent of digital publishing. This is due primarily to the popular “Look Inside” feature in Amazon in which the first pages of the book are available as a sample. Potential buyers need to be able to go straight to the story opening and read the sample without wading through pages that have nothing to do with the story itself, so some page that were once included in the front matter have been relocated to the back matter section.
Although there are still some differences of opinion on what should be placed where, especially in ebooks vs. print books, the following seems to be the most popular format for fiction:
Testimonials (optional) – quote excerpts from known authors and reviewers
Half Title Page (print only) – contains only the title of the book
Title Page – title, author, illustrator (if applicable), and publisher
Copyright Page – includes title, author, cover designer/illustrator, copyright information, publisher information, disclaimers, publication date, edition number, ISBNs, Library of Congress number
Dedication Page (optional) – generally a just few words dedicating the book to someone important to the author or for whom the book was written
Epigraph (optional) – quotation (frequently from a person of note) that may help set the story mood; this can be placed either just before the table of contents or just before the story opening
Table of Contents – in ebooks, this sometimes appears in the back matter section to avoid using up sample pages in Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature; however, the practice of placing the table of contents in the back of the book violates Amazon’s terms of service and is discouraged
Foreward (optional) – an introduction written by another person
Preface (optional ) – an introduction written by the author
Acknowledgements (optional) – written by the author, this page acknowledges those who contributed or assisted the author in the creation of the book; some publishers may opt to place this in the back matter.
Acknowledgements (optional) – see above
Afterword/Note from the Author – author’s note on how the story came about, research details, etc.
About the Author – contains author biography, website, contact information, and publication list (if not included on a separate page); ebook versions should contain clickable links to the website, social media, and purchase sites.
Other Books by Author – a list of other books written by the author; ebook versions should include clickable links for each title which will take readers to the associated purchase site.
Cover Image/Excerpt (optional) – used to promote author’s upcoming book, or the works by another author whose work is similar; ebook versions should always include clickable links to purchase sites. Readers who enjoyed the story may want more, and this is a valuable opportunity for authors to promote their upcoming work (or in a mutual exchange, the works of others). It should be a part of any book’s back matter.
For more details on the elements that constitute front and back matter, please refer to The Chicago Manual of Style, the publishing world’s primary work of reference for literature. There is also much information on the internet; however, be wary as some of it may be outdated or incorrect.
And that’s it for today. Hope your New Year is off to a great publishing start!
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Roh Morgon writes urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and horror. Her latest novel in her Chosen series, Runner: Book II of The Chosen, was released in October 2017. Roh can be found on Facebook and Amazon while her website is undergoing reconstruction.
As you can see, the road to indie publishing can be daunting, and it’s littered with the carcasses of failed books. But if you choose this path, do it with your eyes wide open and make every effort to present your book in the most professional manner possible—because your competition is not only other indie-published books whose authors have figured out how to navigate that road, but books from the traditional publishers who built it.
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Roh Morgon is an indie author of “urban fantasy with a romantic bite.” She recently released two books from her series The Chosen—a second edition of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen with a new edit, additional scenes, and a new cover; and its sequel, Runner: Book II of The Chosen. She can be found on her blog, Facebook, and Amazon.
Here’s a short blurb on Watcher:
Sunny Martin’s been a monster - or so she thinks - since the night she was drained of her blood and left for dead. But when she falls in love with Nicolas, the mysterious leader of The Chosen, she discovers a startling truth behind her savage nature which may force her to choose between her heart and the last remnant of her human soul.