Choosing the front matter for your self-published book

You have worked hard on your novel and are now ready to publish it. But the first thing readers will see when they begin reading your e-book won’t be your story. Everything that goes before your story is called the Front Matter and introduces your book to the reader.

It comprises at a minimum the book’s title and copyright information, but can include other things such as a preface, dedication, or table of contents.

What you include is up to you but don’t want to have a lot of front matter as this is just more pages your reader has to flip/scroll through to reach the start of your book. Also, if you put in too much at the front, it will decrease the amount of pages your reader can download or view online as part of a sample of your book.

Title Page (*a must)

This page is pretty obvious. You list the title of your book (and series) and who wrote it. This looks best if you center it.

Quietus

Book Two of The Elemental

 By Susan Leigh Noble

 Copyright Page (*a must)

On the copyright page, you list the copyright notice which will contain the name of the copyright owner and the publication year. This page may also list the permissions and disclaimers. Keep the information to this page to a minimum.

Remember that if you’re publishing through Smashwords you will need to put “Smashwords Edition” or “Published by (your name) at Smashwords.”

Here is the copyright page from Quietus.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblances to persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Susan Leigh Noble

Published by Susan Leigh Noble

Cover design by Donna Casey (www.digitaldonna.com)

Photos used to create the cover were obtained from dreamtime.com.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system — except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the web — without expressed written permission from Susan Leigh Noble. 

Dedication/Acknowledgement (optional)

If you would like to dedicate your book to someone, it is done in the front of the book. It is located after the copyright page but before any table of contents or start of the actual book. Again, keep this short – one or two people.

My dedication from Summoned:

To my husband,

Without you, this book would not exist.

Acknowledgments are to thank those people who have helped in the creation of your novel – the police officer you interviewed, your editor, your spouse for their support and so on.

List of other books (optional)

This is where you list other books that you have written. This can be listed in the front OR the back of the book. I personally like it at the back of the book when publishing an e-book.

Here is what could be listed in the third book of my trilogy.

Discover other titles by Susan Leigh Noble

The Search (short story prequel to The Elemental trilogy)

Summoned: Book 1 of The Elemental

Quietus: Book 2 of The Elemental

 Preface (optional)

This piece written by the author often tells why the book was written, your research methods and perhaps some acknowledgements if they are not listed separately. This is more common in non-fiction.

Forward (optional)

This is a short piece written by someone other than the author and may provide a context for the main work. If this is a work of non-fiction, a forward by an expert can lend authority to your book. The forward is usually signed with its author’s name, place and date.

Table of Contents (optional)

A table of contents is most often added to non-fiction books. Now whether your fiction book needs a TOC is a matter of preference. If you do include a TOC, it should be right before your first chapter or prologue.

Now some people may consider the prologue (a scene written from a character’s point of view to set up your story) as part of the front matter, but I consider this as part of my actual story and not part of the front matter. Every book in my trilogy has a prologue.

No matter what you decide to include in your front matter – remember to keep it to a minimum so readers don’t have pages to flip/scroll through in order to get to the main event – your story.

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2 thoughts on “Choosing the front matter for your self-published book

  1. Kia Zi Shiru says:

    Great post, nice and easy to understand.

    just wanted to note that Smashwords have changed their policy on “smashwords edition” in the front of the book. It is now no longer required (this is a change from the last few months).

  2. […] is much more to having a novel than just the story. You need front matter (cover page, copyright page and perhaps a table of contents or dedication page) as well as the back […]

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