Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

This post is the forty-second in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Now that your cover and book description are complete, it is time to think about what else you want to include in your book because you need to include more than just your story. Everything that goes before your story is called the Front Matter.

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 number 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.


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.

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 (

Photos used to create the cover were obtained from

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 (TOC) is most often added to non-fiction books. It also could be used for a collection of stories whether an anthology, short stories or a “box set” of your trilogy to aid the reader in finding the story or section they want to read.

Now whether your fiction book needs a TOC is a matter of preference. Some authors and readers prefer a TOC. If you have given names to each of your chapter, a TOC might make more sense. Otherwise it will be just a list of chapters (Chapter One, Chapter Two and so on.) If you do include a TOC, it should be right before your first chapter or prologue.

Next week we will look at Back Matter which is all the stuff that comes after your story.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

Publishing your novel – recap

I am coming up on two years as an Indie Author. Summoned came out in August 2011 and was followed by Quietus in November of that year. The final book in my trilogy, Destiny, was released in November 2012. CIMG1036I also published a short story, The Search, in September 2012. I have learned a lot over the past two years and have written numerous blogs about self-publishing your book. Here is a recap of some of those posts…

Investing in an Awesome Book Cover – The cover of your book is probably one of the most important decisions you will make. It doesn’t matter if you have a great story if no one is willing to pick up the book or in the case of e-books, click on the link.  Click here to read more.

Setting the price for your e-book – You have spent months, even years, toiling over this book. You of course think it is worth just as much as any New York bestseller. The problem is you aren’t Stephen King or John Grisham. No one – or very few people – recognizes your name. Click here to read more.

Writing an awesome book blurb – A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of having a book cover that entices the reader to pick up your book or in the digital age, click on the link for your book. Now that the cover has done its job, you need an awesome book description to entice the reader to purchase your book. Click here to read more.

Tips for drafting your author bio – Every author needs an author bio, whether it is for their book, web page, Facebook, author page or when appearing as a guest blogger. The purpose of an author bio is to give readers a clue about who you are and what you are about. Click here to read more.

Does your e-book need a table of contents? You have written your e-book and are ready to publish it. So do you need to include a table of contents? Well, that will depend on the type of book. Click here to read more.

Should you use a Pen Name? – Actors and musicians often don’t use their given names. Some authors also decide to publish under a pseudonym or pen name.  Click here to read more.

Virtual Book Tours: Are they worth it? A popular way to promote your book is to do a book tour. But with limited time and money, many authors opt to forgo touring to physical locations and choose a virtual tour. Click here to read more.

The Benefit of Joining Author Groups  – Becoming a self-published author doesn’t mean you have to navigate the self-publishing world alone. One of the best things I have found is all the wonderful support from other indie authors. They can help you promote your book, give you encouragement, discuss current publishing trends and advise you on which promotional opportunities helped them the most. Click here to read more.

Publishing your e-book through Smashwords – Often the first place new authors think of publishing their e-books is Amazon. And this makes sense since Amazon is the largest e-book retailer out there. But not everyone has a Kindle. Some people have Barnes and Noble’s Nook or Sony’s Kobo or choose to read off their smart phones or computer. To reach these readers, you need to have your book in iTunes, Barnes and Noble, the Kobo store and various other e-book retailers. Click here to read more.

Hopefully, these nine posts can help you start your own self-publishing career.

Does your e-book need a table of contents?

You have written your e-book and are ready to publish it. So do you need to include a table of contents? Well, that will depend on the type of book. If you have written a non-fiction book or are publishing a collection of stories (whether they are an anthology, short stories or a “box set” of your trilogy), then yes you do need a table of contents (TOC). This will aid the reader in finding the story or section (in a non-fiction book) that they want to read.

As for your fiction novel, well that is a matter of preference. I have seen many readers comments that it is a “must” and others who don’t care at all whether there is a TOC.

Here are a few opinions from the Kindle Boards:

“Personally, I hate e-books that have page after page of TOC links before the book starts. And in view of the problem this creates with readers who sample first, I’m pretty sure such a strong argument can be made against using them. Additionally, I have never once pulled up the TOC in any book I’ve read on my Kindle. Why would I when my Kindle saves my place?”

“When I get stuff on my Kindle from Amazon it automatically starts on Chapter 1 bypassing the TOC stuff. I always scroll back to re-look at the cover, so I see the TOC then, and it always looks odd, so I don’t put them in my books…though I understand it can be useful to people.”

“When I read a novel in e-book format, I always skip right over the TOC. Unless the chapter has a descriptive title, as in nonfiction, a TOC is useless and pointless.”

“As a reader, it is a bit of a slap in the face to read ‘I don’t use a TOC, so I don’t add one.’ I want a TOC.”

“What I’ve found is that people who don’t want them can skip them. But people who do want them will be vocal about not having them. So I think it’s safer to have them then to not have them.”

“I never used to–until I read a thread here where readers very vocally preferred to have them.  I don’t use them, so I never thought about it.  But I posted new versions of all my stuff last month that have TOC’s now.  If readers want them, that’s all I need to know.”

“I am baffled to read the posts that this is even considered as optional in an ebook. I am also baffled by those saying most of their owned ebooks don’t have it. Most of the ones I buy do, and I expect it. If it’s not there, I look at it as unprofessional.”

As you can see, opinions (from readers and authors) vary greatly on this subject. When I published my first two novels (Summoned and Quietus), I had never heard about readers wanting a TOC, so I did not include them as I never use the TOC. My next release was a short story (The Search) which only contains five chapters. Again, I felt no need to include a TOC on such a short work.

When I published Destiny (the final installment of my trilogy), I decided to go ahead and include a TOC since it seemed some readers prefer them as you can see from the comments above. And of course when I published The Elemental box set, I added a basic TOC that linked you to the start of each individual novel but did not create a TOC for each individual chapter in each novel.

So whether you add a TOC to your novel is up to you. I feel that if some readers prefer it, I will continue to add a TOC with those readers in mind. The easiest way to add the TOC is to follow the instructions in the Smashword Guide. I used it both times I added a TOC and found it simple to follow and worked beautifully.