Front and Back Matter: What to add to the front and back of your novel to make it stand out

As a self-publisher, you’re in charge of making the book look as good as possible for your readers. You are the author, the designer, and the marketer! You need to handle all your book preparations yourself. That can be a downside, but with the right resources, you can design everything you need with ease. 

While the content or body of your book is important, so is the package it’s put into. We’re talking about the front and back matter of your book. This material is everything that comes after the cover and before and after the body of the book. You may think it’s not that important, but it’s essential to making your book a success. In this article we’ll be covering the front and back matter of your book and: 

  • its importance for your writing business
  • its content: what goes into front and back matter?
  • instructions on how to insert it into your book: on your own and with help

The Importance of Front and Back Matter

As a self-publisher, your writing is your business, and so you essentially are your own marketer. You’ve got to take the reins on this to help make your book a success. Good front and back matter is an excellent way to do this. But why? 

  • They create an attractive book package to bring people in: When you pick up a book in a bookstore, you start flipping through the first few pages and the last few. You look at the title page, the table of contents, the dedication. Online, you can get a sample of the book before you buy to “virtually” do the same thing. You notice whether the book looks professional or not. You notice the style they use in the design. You learn a little bit about the book as you peruse chapter titles, and you learn about the author as you check out the back of the book. 
  • They build a professional image: It shows that you’ve prepared your book in a style on the same level as other professionals. You have the title page, the copyright, the dedication, etc. You have a section about you as the author and maybe even your mailing list or titles of other books you’ve written. Front and back matter will look just the same as a traditionally published book, which is great for you, especially if you’re a new author!
  • They inform the reader: They also tell the reader what kind of book it is as well as what kind of author you are. They can tell from the chapter titles, the font, the “about the author” section. The front and back matter are the next level after the cover to try to hook your reader in. 
  • They connect your reader with you: Front and back matter keep your sales going! They learn about your other books (if you have them), and they know how to find your upcoming titles. They even learn a little background about you!

What Goes Into My Front and Back Matter?

There is no set-in-stone style, but there is a basic general outline of what usually goes in each of the sections. The front matter is what comes straight after the cover. 

Front matter generally has: 

  • Praise for (your other books): This is the praise that you’ve received for your previously published titles. You might also see an advance review from an Advance Reader Copy here. If you have either of these, definitely put them in your front matter!
  • Title page
  • Dedication
    • Copyright page: this definitely shows off your professionalism. It has the year of publication, claims your ownership, and provides your ISBN
    • Disclaimer: This also shows your professionalism because you are doing the same as other authors/publishers, showing that any similarity to other books is unintentional, etc. You’ve covered yourself legally, proving that you want to conduct yourself as a professional.
    • Table of contents: This is great for ebooks because with a linked TOC, your readers can jump between chapters easily. If you have chapter titles, your reader can also peruse to see if the book catches their interest.

    Back matter generally has: 

    • Acknowledgements: It’s great to see authors thanking those who help them. It’s fun as readers to see what all goes into the making of a book, and again, it shows that you are a professional. You’ve done hard work to get your book to where it is. Don’t be shy about showing the effort and the gratitude!
    • About the author: This is your chance to connect your readers with you. Use details that match the brand you’re going for. If you’re a divorcee and you’re writing a self-help book about divorce, add your personal experience (briefly) in the bio. If you’re a romance writer, plug in just how much you ingested romance novels as a kid or are waiting for Mr. Darcy to come along. For great tips, take a look at Publish Drive’s How to Write the Perfect Author Bio
    • Titles or links to previous books: This is great for print books where you can include a QR code for your readers to find previous books, but for ebooks, you can actually provide links that will take your readers to your other titles. So if they loved you, they can instantly jump to the online store to purchase another one of your titles. This is marketing with ease.
    • Titles or samples for your upcoming books: If I love a book, and I’m so ready to read the next one in the series, a sample of the first chapter of the sequel is a great way to whet my appetite. You can do the same. Give your readers a taste of what the next book will be about, so that they can make a fully-informed decision about their next purchase. (It shows you trust the reader and care about them!)
    • Book discussion questions: This is really fun for those who want to include your book in a book group!
    • Call to action/connect: Provide opportunities for your readers to continue reading as well as get connected with you! You can show a signup for your mailing list or newsletter as well as links to your author page and social media. In print books, you can put a QR code which will link to your social pages too!

    How Do I Include Things In My Front and Back Matter?

    Now you know how important front and back matter is as well as what goes into it, but the other big question is how to put it in your book? Self-publishing does provide a lot of ease, but if you’re not exactly tech-savvy, the idea of creating your own front and back matter can be a little daunting. 

    • If it is easy for you, you can format yourself in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Kindle Direct Publishing has tips for formatting your book through Word, and you can follow their steps for formatting your front and back matter. It’s as simple as organizing your headings, section breaks, building a table of contents with instructions, and copy/pasting your copyright page using Kindle’s template
    • But just to make your life easier as a busy author, check out Kindle Create. It really makes life a lot easier because once you’ve uploaded your file, you can instantly create your front and back matter with a few clicks of the mouse. 
      • Download Kindle Create
      • Search for your computer file and upload it to the app by clicking upload
      • It will automatically organize your chapters (if you’ve formatted correctly, but you can also format in Kindle Create). Now look at the front of the book and back of the book to find front and back matter. 
      • Click the (+) symbol next to front matter to choose what you want to include: dedication, title page, copyright, etc. You can fill in the template that pops up and hit create page. 
      • Same goes for the back matter. 
      • You don’t have to include everything, but Kindle Create makes it easy to include just the right kind of front and back matter you need to make the book looking clean and professional. 
      • Tip: Also download Kindle Previewer so you can view your front and back matter the way it will look on the Kindle screen!

    Extra Resources:

    Creating front and back matter is one of the ways to market yourself as a professional and successful author. It will help bring you even more readers after your first one selects your book. With the right tools, it can be super easy to create, and even though people may think it doesn’t matter, it’s totally worth your time. Take a look at these extra resources to help you on your formatting journey: 

    Don’t want to do the front and back matter creation yourself? Then let HotGhostWriter handle everything! We’ve got a whole host of excellent editors who can format everything until you’ve got polished, professional-looking front and back matter that’ll give off just the vibe you’re looking for to your readers. Click on the messenger icon at the bottom of the page to get started!

    Kerilee Nickles

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