The Front Matters

When self-publishing, your most valuable resources for researching how your book should look, is other books. Go to the library or your bookshelf, and look at books in the same genre as your book. Look at how they are set out, what font they use, how each page looks etc. If you want your book to stand out for the quality of the writing, and not for the poor quality of the layout/cover, then learn from those who have published before you.

I can generally tell whether a book has been self-published within about 5 seconds of picking it up. Based on whether or not it has a publishing imprint, the quality of the cover design, and then the way it’s laid out. If you open the front cover and chapter one starts immediately on the first page, then it just screams ‘self-published’. The problem with that, is that readers automatically look at it in a different, and usually more critical way. (I know this, because I have done the same thing).

The front matter is important, as the way it is laid out sets the tone for the rest of the book.  The layout of the front matter is quite different in print books to eBooks, and in this post, I am covering print only. I will cover eBooks in a later post.

So the following is the way I would layout the front matter of my books, in list format and image format. Obviously this needs to be tweaked depending on the book, but it is a good general guideline for fiction. As I’ve said above, the best way to research this is to look at books in the same genre.

Page #1: Blank

I prefer to leave the very first page of my books completely blank. This is because people like to have the signed when I sell them at fairs, and I like to have a whole blank page to write a message on for them. Other publishers use this page for reviews or as a title page.

Page #2: Other Books By…

I like to list my other books available on the second page, as it encourages my readers to pick up my other books if they enjoy this one. It also helps to create the feeling that you are an author the reader can trust, because you haven’t got just one book out. If this is your first book, then you can leave this page blank, or put something about your website or even other products besides your book.

Page #3: Title Page

The title page should have the title of the book, the name of the author (and other contributors if applicable) and the publishing name or website and imprint symbol. Again, check out the title pages of books in similar genres. Some of them have a plain font for the title, others mimic the font on the front cover. 

Page #4: Legal Page

The legal page should contain all the copyright information necessary for your book. The basics should include:

A paragraph starting with ‘all rights reserved’, detailing how your book can be used.

Copyright ©(with the copyright symbol, which can be found in ‘special characters’ in Word) and the date, and your name and publishing imprint name.

An ISBN number. (I will do another post about ISBN numbers soon)

‘The moral rights of the author has been asserted’

A statement about characters being fictitious (for fiction books) and if it is a non-fiction book, you may need a disclaimer or some sort.

The edition number.

Any credits to people/websites whose information you have used.

Page #5: Acknowledgements

On this page, thank everyone who has helped you bring your book to publication. This can include family, friends, beta readers, editors, proofreader etcetera.

Page #6: Blank

Page #7: Dedication

I love to dedicate my books to someone in particular. Either for their support, or for inspiring the book or because I love them so much. 

Page #8: Blank Page

Page #9: Chapter One/Prologue

On page 9, the first actual page of the story, is where your page numbers should begin. Up until then, there should be no page numbers. Getting word to start the page numbers further into a document can be tricky, I will do another post on that in the future.

Here are is the front matter of I’m Here, to illustrate the above list:

Page 1 & 2
Page 1 & 2
Page 3 & 4
Page 3 & 4
Page 5 & 6
Page 5 & 6
Page 7 & 8
Page 7 & 8
Page 9 & 10
Page 9 & 10

Just to clear up any confusion, as you look at the pages above, remember that all of the odd-numbered pages will be the right-hand pages in your printed book, and the even-numbered pages will be on the left-hand side of the book. 


Please check back soon for more posts containing tips for Indie Authors, and if you have any questions about the process, please feel free to ask and I will address your question in a post.


Disclaimer: All views, ideas and tips presented on this website are my own, based on my own experience and the experience of my clients. It is by no means the only way to do it, or the right way to do it, but it is the way that works for me. Please take what helps you and makes sense to you, and don’t worry about the rest for now. Please know that I take no responsibility for anything that happens as a result of you following my advice. I have created this blog as a resource for Indie Authors to help them make the publishing journey a little easier.





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