Creating useful front and back matter

Posted Jul 17 2015, 4:10 pm in , , ,

Recently we posted about a promotional technique of featuring other authors in your back matter, but that post automatically begs the question: what are the best practices for front and back matter in your book? 

While the beauty of self publishing is that you can choose to present your book any way you’d like, we have some recommendations. Because that’s how we roll. 

First, a quick summary. 

A book is essentially a study of three parts:

  • The Front Matter, or everything that comes before Chapter One
  • The Main Body, or everything that happens between Chapter One (or your prologue, if you have one!) and “The End” (or epilogue, if you have one!)
  • The Back Matter, or everything that comes after “The End”/your epilogue

Particularly in an ebook format, the front and back matter of your book can offer several strong branding and promotional opportunities for an author willing to take the time to optimize the content.

While the following list is by no means absolute, nor is the order set in stone, consider including the following elements in your next published book: 

eBook Front Matter

  • Cover (always a good idea)
  • Cover Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Book blurb and/or series blurb or series graphic (with link to your website to learn about other books in the series) 
  • Dedication 

eBook Back Matter

  • Author’s Note (with link to your website, social media accounts)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Cross Promotion – Cover/Excerpt with website links
  • Cover/Excerpt from the next book in your series (with buy links or link to your website)
  • Book covers/series graphic for other books you’ve written (with buy links or link to your website)
  • About the Author (with author photo, and optional links to your website, social media accounts)
  • Table of Contents

Still not sure what’s right for you? Do some research! Purchase or review ebooks by some of your favorite authors, particularly those who write in a genre similar to yours. See what appeals to you as a reader and as an author, and adopt those elements as they make sense for you. If you want to get particularly high-tech, create a unique set of links for your ebook to connect with your site, so that you can determine who is hitting your site from that source. 

Importantly, graphics take up space in a digital file, so be sure your images are optimized for viewing digitally.

What about print books?

Though the above front and back matter suggestions make sense for ebooks, what about print? For most authors, including fewer images/links makes sense in the print edition, both to cut down your file size (graphics files that are intended to be printed are extremely large) and because printed links aren’t clickable. 😉 Using a similar approach to the above list, here’s a sample order for print front and back matter:

Print Front Matter

  • Cover (still a good idea)
  • Cover Page
  • Copyright Page
  • “Also by Author” – listing + optional series blurb or descriptions (with website URL) 
  • Dedication 

Print Back Matter

  • Author’s Note (with website URL, social media account URLs)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Cross Promotion (may opt out of this, given page count/file size concerns)
  • Cover/Excerpt from the next book in your series (with website URL)
  • About the Author (with author photo)

As with ebooks, check out the work of other authors. Keep what appeals to you for your next published book! 

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