Setting up Your Book: Front and Back Matter
Quick explanation of what the Matter is
Okay, any editors reading that title are currently having a conniption. For the rest of us, let’s dive in.
The interior of your book is basically made up of three parts. Front Matter, the Body and Back Matter. Let’s take a look…
Front matter is the stuff in your book from the page after the cover till the page before chapter one. This includes the title page, cover page, etc. After this comes the body of the book and after that, what is called the ‘Back Matter.’ For an explanation of Back Matter, look below.
Remember, when you open a book, the page on the right is the Recto page and the page on the left is the Verso page. If you memorize those terms as I have, you may have some success in convincing people you are “learned” in the art of publishing. That’s all it takes, actually. Just those two words. That’s my gift to you.
Remember, your recto pages are always odd numbers and your verso pages are always even numbers. Always. Don’t mess with that or your readers will mess with you.
Also, your page numbering needs to be different in your front matter. Often the pages will be numbered with Roman Numerals and then the regular numbers (1, 2, 3, 4…) will start on the first page of chapter one (sometimes that number will be invisible and number 2 will start the numbering on page 2—it’s your choice).
Listed below are some of the pages you can include in your front matter. You’ll notice in the list that sometimes there are two recto pages in a row. That means you need a blank page in between them (a blank verso page). NOTE: you DO NOT need all the pages below (although you do need some). This is a list of many of the pages you could have and where you would put them if you choose to include them (recto or verso).
- Half title page—your title… just your title. Simple. (recto)
- Frontispiece—Graphic about your book, series title, list of contributors, list of other books you’ve written or blank page (verso)
- Title page—full title, subtitle and publisher name (recto)
- Copyright page (verso)
- Dedication—don’t forget your mom. Remember your mom… remember or she will help you never forget. You can also acknowledge her down in the acknowledgment section (recto)
- Epigraph—that’s a quote pertinent to your book. You can put this on the Frontispiece if you prefer (recto)
- Table of Contents—you can call this the index if you want and it can be your list of chapters (recto)
- List of Illustrations—illustrations galore? List them! (recto)
- List of tables—do you have a lot of tables and information in the book? Here’s where you list them. If you’re writing fiction and you have this, then something’s a little weird with your book. (recto)
- Foreword—a little write-up written by someone else about your book or about you (recto)
- Preface—a little write-up written by you about your book as to why you wrote it (recto)
- Acknowledgements (recto)
- Introduction—you write something to explain your book (recto)
- List of abbreviations or chronology (recto)
- Prologue—in fiction, this sets the scene for the book. It’s not just an early chapter, it gives a slightly different perspective and eye into the book than the rest of your book and prepares the reader for what they are about to read. (recto)
With that said, that’s a lot of pages! Some of those pages are more suited to a fiction book and some fit more with non-fiction. Below is what I did for my book. You can see that I played with the order a little bit. Remember, when you’re putting your book together, don’t mess with certain things (title page, copyright page and the recto/verso rules), but in the end, you can order a lot of it however you like. Try to follow the prescribed order somewhat, but it’s your book.
Here’s what I did:
- Title page (recto)
- Copyright page (verso)
- Dedication and Thanks (recto)
- A little note I included in there to say my book is fiction (verso)
- Preface (recto)
- Frontispiece—List of other books I’ve written and when the sequels will be published (verso)
- Table of Contents (recto)
- Map Illustration of the world in which my book takes place (recto)
- Prologue—I chose to start my page numbering on this page. I don’t think that’s typically allowed, but I did it anyway. It’s my book. This may bother you. I probably shouldn’t have done it. I’ll probably do it again. (recto)
The actual physical “leafs” (that’s the name of one sheet of paper including both a recto and a verso) in the first part of my book before the prologue starts is 5 leafs. Personally, I wouldn’t want any more than this and you might be justified in encouraging me to have less in a work of fiction.
Here’s some detail about the front matter:
You’ll notice the long list above mentioned a half-title page. That’s basically just the title. I dropped the half-title page (it seems unnecessary to me) and put some of my frontispiece information (other books) after the preface.
For the title page, the best thing to do is to take a look at title pages of books similar to yours and pattern your title page after one you like. Here are the basic building blocks of this page:
The Titles are often centered on this page (but not always). Part way down, you should have your title, followed by your subtitle on the next line. Make your title bold and large and cool looking, your subtitle a little smaller.
Down two lines from this, I added in a note that this is Book one of this series. Six lines below that, I put my name as the author.
Near the bottom of the page, I put the name of my publishing company (BrainSwell Publishing) and where it exists, (Ingersoll, ON).
Now, I’m going to say this because people get uptight… the following information is my understanding of the copyright process, but I’m not a lawyer. In other words, this is information I have collected from here and there. I can’t guarantee anything here because I can’t offer legal counsel to you. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned. 🙂 I’m basically saying, if you have problems, don’t sue me. I know nothin’.
The copyright page is where you put your copyright info. Typically, your work is your work and you own it. Declare it copyrighted and it should be copyrighted in most places. However, that doesn’t necessarily hold up in court (if someone else claimed ownership). As a result, you might be wise to find out how to officially copyright something in your country. This copyright process should give you a certificate which you can use in court. The old way of doing this was to mail a copy of your work to yourself and leave it unopened (the postmark would be your date and prove you owned it first), but this no longer holds up in court.
I checked out the copyright process in Canada (see below for links for Canada and some other countries). I ended up getting a certificate, but I did not actually have to submit my book to them. I thought that was odd, but I have proof that I have a copyrighted project by the same name as my book.
Your copyright page should say, “Copyright (c)” followed by the year and your name.
That is enough to list it as copyrighted in many places, but the following phrase is recommended to add in there and is needed for some countries:
All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the publisher is an infringement of the copyright law.
Next, write your ISBN number. If you do not have an ISBN number, google, “How do I get an ISBN number in ________?” Put your country in the blank. In Canada (where I live), ISBN numbers are free to Canadian authors. Kind of nice.
Be cautious of free ISBN numbers when they come from companies taking part in the publishing of your book. If they give you an ISBN that they own, they are technically the publisher on record.
After this, I put that the interior art was done by a friend named, Allan Jensen. It was actually drawn by Allan, but edited a lot by my wife and me to make it fit the book a little more accurately, but I only included his name in there.
Finally (near the bottom), I put my publishing company and location again.
Spread these out over the page and make it look cool!
Table of Contents
This can be a pain to do because you have to put each chapter in and then the page number. Later, when you adjust the font or something else, the page number of each chapter can end up changed. You then have to go through the whole thing again and correct it all! Frustrating!
Fortunately, MS Word has a feature for putting together your Table of Contents. Click the help button in MS Word and then type in “Table of Contents” and it’ll walk you through how to do this. It’s a pretty great feature!
Just be careful, every time you adjust the Table of Contents (you have to redo the MS Word Table of Contents process with every adjustment), your font can change. You might need to change the font and formatting back to what you want.
If you put a map in your book at this point, make sure you stretch it out as far as you can. Createspace has a nice feature where they allow you to view your book prior to printing a proof. Take a look at your map in here. If there’s more room, stretch it out in MS Word (or whatever software you are using) and upload the book with the larger map to Createspace so your map is as visible as possible. That is, unless you want a small map. It’s your book.
Your back matter can include an appendix, glossary, bibliography, pronunciation guide and more. You can also just end the book after the last page of your last chapter.
Here are some ideas. Try putting the first chapter of the next book in the series after the last chapter of your current book along with the date the next book is coming out. Or if you have a first chapter for another series, go with that! Use the space well to promote your next book. Perhaps your readers will get hooked on another one of your books at the end of this one!
It has also been suggested that putting an order form for the next book in the back matter increases pre-orders for the next book by about 20%. This will depend on how you have your next book set up to sell.
I put the first chapter from book two in the series at the end of book one, starting on the recto page (and I plan to do the same kind of thing at the end of book two). I then included the date for when book two will be available for purchase.
After this, I included a pronunciation guide as there are some tricky words in the book (recto page).
That’s when I ended my book! In the end, I believe book one turned out to be 248 pages.
When you are finished, you can produce your formatted book to a PDF right from MS Word. Make sure you produce it to a high-quality PDF for printing, rather than for publishing online.
The file you produced should be all set for uploading to Createspace, Ingram or elsewhere for printing your book.
Once you have it looking the way you want it, I would upload it to Createspace and take a look at it in their online viewer. Just a caution, don’t approve the book or it could end up for sale at that point. 🙂 Take a look at it and see how it all looks.
One more thing. Make sure you check your book over with a fine tooth comb to make sure everything lines up the way you want it to. Check to see that the font size is right, the chapters start on the recto page, table of contents is correct, etc. Find any errors before it goes public. 🙂
Also, make sure you order a printed proof copy (or multiple ones) from Createspace or Ingram. Write in the book and scribble in notes. Find as many issues as you can (formatting, grammar, spelling, etc.) before your readers find them. For more ideas on how to do this well, check out Working with Your Proof Copy.
There you have it. These is the basic building blocks for setting up your front and back matter. You can do this all quite easily with MS Word.
Comment below with your experience, thoughts or questions about this.