The Anatomy of a Book

There are a lot of things that need to be done when publishing a book. Beyond the scope of the story, you need to write your back cover blurb, promotional materials, design your cover, format your book, and write your front and back matter. Self-publishing is great because it gives you the power to do what you want with your book, but that also means it’s your responsibility to make it look good.

I found this chart online that is very helpful in determining what goes where when you’re putting together your book.

Courtesy Tiny Tutorials’ Adobe Classroom

Everything is negotiable with your front and back matter. But no matter what you include, make sure you do it right. Take a look at your favorite traditionally published books and mimic the style they’re done in. The font size for the copyright page is usually smaller than the rest of the book. The title page usually matches the same font as the cover, but not always.

I’ve always seen the acknowledgements put in the back of the book, so that’s where I put mine. I don’t see the need to include a table of contents with a fiction book, but I know a lot of authors do.

If you’re having your book formatted by a professional formatter, you don’t necessarily have to worry about any of this. However, the more information and advice you give them the better. Just like with cover design, formatting and layout can be an art and will either add to the reader’s experience or take away from it, no matter how strong the writing is.

The back matter is where things get murky. As it says in the image, basically everything is optional. Indie authors use this space to plug their next book and their mailing lists (with links included in the ebook). I usually call this section “Keep Reading,” because that’s what I’m asking my readers to do. I give a short little reason why people will like the next book and, if I have it, I include the next book’s description.

After that I plug my mailing list and encourage people to connect with me on social media. Then comes the “About the Author” and the “Acknowledgements” and the book is over.

Some authors argue that nobody reads the back matter, which is likely true with ebooks, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Some authors are getting creative and including links to their mailing list or the next book on the same page as “The End.”

Since I’m a traditionalist, I don’t really want to go that route, but I can see the appeal to grab eyeballs. My theory is that if someone really enjoys your book, they’re going to flip through the back matter pages. Your job as the author is to hook them.

As with the front matter, though, you want to make sure the copy and the look of the back matter is appealing and fits the tone of the rest of the book. You can’t always mimic traditionally published books with the back matter, but you can mimic your front matter. Make sure it matches.

Again, a good formatter won’t let you look bad.

Speaking of formatting, keep me in mind for your next project! Under the DN Publishing tab, select “Formatting” to view my rates and samples!


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