After writing your story, you need to cap it with some technical language at the front and some appreciative language in the back. The order and the exact wording of the content varies from author to author, but there is a general pattern to the material. The following suggestions are for an ebook, because paperbacks are sometimes different.
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If you want more details on the front and back matter of your ebook, including things like an index or how to use it professionally to encourage more sales, click on this book.
Front Matter of Your Ebook
In some cases, you can put your cover art as the first page because the distributor doesn’t do it when converting your ebook. In other cases, such as with Amazon, the distributor automatically puts the cover art as the first page and so, if you include it in your file, the cover art will appear twice in the ebook.
Center your title and place it a few lines down. Bold it and increase the font size. I use Georgia, font size 14. Below the title you put your name or a byline (By [Your Name]).
My copyright info is simple, possibly too simple.
“Copyright @ 2017 by Clovis Whitman
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and incidents are invented by the author or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author.”
Here’s a more detailed one that can work for ebooks and paperbacks, if you’re interested.
Other Front Matter
Some people argue that it is best not to put a bunch of stuff in the front part of the ebook so that readers can get right to the story when looking at the sample. Or, that readers will just skip all that stuff anyway to get to the first chapter.
Other authors have found that their sales increase when they have informational material in the front matter. Personally, I like a little informational material in the front part of the ebook. So, here are some other categories.
Mention who you’re dedicating the book to. Some authors prefer putting this section in the back of the book.
Mention who helped you write and publish your ebook. Some authors prefer putting this section in the back of the book.
Credit for Cover Art/Cover Design
Name the person and their website. People who create original pictures tend to prefer the label of cover art, while people who make stock photos look amazing tend to prefer the label of cover design.
Include your website, social media sites, email, and newsletter sign-up.
Other Books by the Author
List any other books that you have written, even if it is just one other book. Some people suggest not mixing fiction and non-fiction or different genres. That is, if you’ve written a non-fiction book, don’t mention it in your fiction book. Or, if you have written a romance book, don’t mention it in your fantasy book because it won’t be of interest to your current audience or may look bad in the sense that readers won’t be able to identify you as a specific type of writer. Other people, however, think it’s a good idea to mention whatever you’ve written because there are always a few readers who might be interested in your other works, or they take the view that it really doesn’t hurt your author identity. I fall in with the latter group. I mention all of my books, even while knowing that readers probably won’t genre hop.
Table of Contents
Many authors leave this part out, especially when they don’t have any headers for their chapters (just numbers) and, if they have a lot of chapters, the table of contents takes up precious space. Other authors prefer a table of contents, however, because they can offer links to all the chapters, making it easier for readers to jump to different chapters.
Blurb (Summary or Overview)
Some authors do not put the blurb in their ebook because it shows up on the distributor’s site and it may seem redundant. Other authors, including myself, put it in the front matter because readers often have multiple books on their e-readers and they forget the story lines. So, they can easily and quickly read the blurb again to remind themselves of your book’s story line.
If it’s a fantasy story in particular, maps are very popular to include in the front end of the book.
As an important side note, some distributors, like Apple, do not allow any links to competitors’ sites, such as linking to Amazon’s author page.
Back Matter of Your Ebook
Biography / About the Author
Do people really read other people’s bios? Yes, they do.
Personal biographies usually start with the person’s name (typically written in third person) and immediately mention any achieved accomplishments and awards, or what the person is known for. They also tell some fun and interesting information about the person’s history, stuff that would be particularly interesting to the target audience. In my opinion, great bios also include a bit of humor. (Easier said than done, in my case–my bio feels almost like a laundry list; I’m working on it). And bios might discuss future projects.
But, some people argue that even though bios are about you, you really need to have information that will show people how they will be benefited in some way. So, bios can also be an opportunity for calls-to-action. Encourage readers to do something (e.g., join your mailing list or follow your blog or something else), and consequently get something in return (e.g., a free novel, information on a problem, a chance to get a discount on future books).
To get you thinking about your life (because everyone has interesting stuff in their lives), click on this book.
Traditionally, afterwords discuss the conceptual idea for the book and how it got molded into its current form. It may also talk about any cultural themes that it covers. But, it seems these days in ebooks, they are much more practical and short. They tend to be a place to thank the reader for reading the book and they relay information on future books. They may also include contact information.
Blurbs of Other Books by the Author
Many authors offer the blurb of a future book (the next in the series, for example) or a similar work by the author in order to keep readers hooked.
Some authors put overt calls-to-action in the back end of their books, asking readings to leave a review, spread the word on social media, join a mailing list, pre-order the next book, or something else. Sometimes these calls-to-action stand alone in their own section or are subsumed in the Afterword. With every call-to-action, it’s best to remember that the reader needs to feel like they are getting something worth it in return.
Some books, especially fantasy stories, have many unfamiliar or made-up words and places, and so a glossary where the words and concepts are defined can be very helpful.
Although not as common with fiction books, an index may be desirable in some cases, depending on the book’s content and the author’s goals. A book may have many people, places, times, and authors may want readers to be able to find these things quickly.
What Front Matter and Back Matter Do You Include In Your Ebook?
That’s it! Yet, since different authors do it slightly different, what do you put in your front and back matter or what have I missed? Please tell us in a comment below. It’d be much appreciated.
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