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007. Front and Back Matter

So, you’ve now got a polished, professionally edited and formatted manuscript. You’ve also got a fantastic front cover. Well done! That is no minor achievement and you definitely deserve a pat on the back.

But, there’s still something missing. You’re not quite ready to hit Publish because you haven’t created your front and back matter.


For those unfamiliar with the terms, front and back matter are basically all the pages in a book which have nothing to do with the actual manuscript content. The ones before the content begins are called the front matter, the ones after the words THE END, are the back matter.


Are they necessary? I would say as a whole, yes, they are. Without them your book will not feel particularly professional, but it is possible to go overboard. Don’t just add pages for the sake of it.


In this blog, I will discuss the various items of front and back matter, how relevant they are and the order in which you would typically expect to see them.


FRONT MATTER


Frontispiece

An illustration or photo which appears on the page before the Title Page. I personally do not bother with this but there’s no good reason not to include one.


Title Page

The title of the book and the author’s name as they appear on the front page. If the book is part of a series, then the series name and the book’s number in the series should go here too. This is a must.


Accolades

After the title page you may want to start with any accolades which have been written about your book. Note: these should be from esteemed reviewers or publications. It may well be that you come back later and add these when you have them.


Copyright Page

This includes technical information about your book. Copyrights, edition dates, ISBN and publisher details. It is not strictly necessary as your work is automatically protected under copyright law simply because you have written it. People may pay little attention to this page but they expect to see one. I attach mine below as an example:




Dedication Page

It is always nice to dedicate your work to a family member (alive or deceased) or someone who has been of significant support to your writing. Make this quick and snappy. I put mine in italics although this isn’t necessary. Tread carefully when doing this, you may upset other family members who have not (yet) got a mention.


Table of Contents (ToC)

If you are writing fiction with chapter names, or your book is non fiction, then you should have a ToC. The ToC should also reference your back matter. For my Adventure Quest series, I do not use a ToC but this is only because the nature of the book doesn’t lend well to having one. For my Fantasy Premier League (FPL) book, a ToC was absolutely necessary. We can also use it as a nifty piece of marketing, so potential buyers can get an overview of the content covered in the book.


Epigraph

This is a quote or excerpt which is usually taken from another piece of work. It could be another work of fiction, a poem, a song, anything really. It gives the reader a flavour of the book’s subject matter. I haven’t yet used an epigraph in any of my books but I think they are a pleasant touch. I especially like it when fantasy/sci-fi novels cite a quotation from fictional authors who are part of that world.


Preface

A preface is a bit like an introduction before an introduction. It gives the author an opportunity to talk about how the book came into being or offer some context to a later edition. I use it in my Adventure Quest series to talk directly to the reader and inform them they are about to go on an adventure and then explain a little about the dynamics of how the book works (that there are multiple routes to success and the book can be completed in different ways).

In my FPL book, I used the Preface (at the suggestion of my editor) to introduce the history and conception of FPL. This was a nice welcome to total newcomers of the game but could easily be ignored by aficionados.


Foreword

This is an introduction written by another person. Usually someone who is experienced with the subject matter, perhaps a scholar or high-profile figure in the field. Sometimes it can be written by a family member or a friend.


For the Second Edition of my FPL book, which I will release at the end of the 2021/22 season, I hope to have the Foreword written by the current FPL world #1.


BACK MATTER


Acknowledgements

This section is to acknowledge those people who have helped to create the book. Typically, this will include agents and editors as well as close friends and family who have supported the author. As a self-published author, I tend to give a mention to my cover designers because I work so closely with them.


I would expect to see this in most books, however, if you worked completely alone on the project and genuinely have no-one else to acknowledge, then don’t feel you have to make stuff up to fit this page in.


About The Author

This is where the author gives a bit of detail about themselves. Typically written in the third person, and coupled with a photograph, this is the section where you give the reader a quick snippet of who you are and what you are all about. This is a must have for me.


Reading is an intimate experience, and this is the chance for you to offer a sneaky-peak of the person behind the words. If you are a multi-genre author, you will want to tweak this page to be appropriate for the type of book you are writing.

For example: If you are writing a dark, dystopian thriller you may want a bio and photograph that reflects this. You may favour an author photograph with dark elements, your expression serious. That same About The Author page probably won’t tick the boxes for a children’s book.

Example of mine below:




Copyright Permissions

If you have sought permission to reproduce copyrighted material from elsewhere, it should be cited here (this sometimes appears in the front matter). This has not applied to me thus far but if you have used copyrighted material in your book, you should definitely include this page.


Discussion Questions

Depending on the type of book, you may want a section dedicated to thought-provoking questions about the book. This could be used for discussion in book clubs or in an academic context. I have not used this in any of my own books to date. Although in my Adventure Quest series, I have a section in each book called Character Profiles which gives a little more background on the key characters.


Appendix

More relevant for non-fiction books, the Appendix is the place where information deemed too ‘heavy’ for the main body can be placed for reference by the reader. The appendix may contain a lengthy supporting document, tables of statistics, etc.


Chronology

A chronology or timeline can be used to list events in a sequential order. Only relevant where the narrative of the book presents events outside the natural chronology and/or the sequence is deemed to be important.


Endnotes

Notes which relate to specific passages of the text and are referenced using superscripts in the body. More applicable to non-fiction.


Glossary

Definitions of terms or acronyms used in the body of the text which a novice to the subject matter may be unfamiliar with should go here. I used a Glossary of Terms in my FPL book as a lot of the terminology used could be ambiguous or confusing to newcomers.


Index

Often used in non-fiction, the Index is a list of terms and phrases which occur in the text’s body alongside their corresponding page references, to show all the places in the book where these terms can be found. The terms of an Index are in alphabetical order.


Bibliography / Reference List

A breakdown of all the sources cited in the work. This is a formal list and should follow a style manual.


Additional Contact

This is not one you will see on many Back Matter content lists but, as a new and/or self-published author, you will want to appeal to your readers to leave reviews of your book. You will also want to acquire their contact information for your on-going marketing strategy.


I personally do this over two pages, one dedicated to the importance of customer reviews for authors and another one with my social media links so they can get in touch. The latter provides an opportunity to acquire readers’ details which can be used to communicate the release of future books and/or inform them of any price changes/promotions/giveaways you may be doing as part of your marketing strategy.


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The above lists are not exhaustive. Remember, it is your book. You can do whatever you want with it.


My advice is to adapt your front and back matter to each book you write. You want to strike the balance between not having a book so bare that it looks unprofessional, but simultaneously not cramming it so full of junk that you increase your print costs for no tangible gain.

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