Friday, August 28, 2009

Manuscript Preparation: What Goes In The Front of a Book?

By Phillip Crum

As a self-publishing author, it’s important to include the proper pages in the front matter of your book. The front matter book consists of the title page, the copyright page, the table of contents, a disclaimer notice (if needed), the foreword, an acknowledgments page, a preface, and dedication page. Each of these pages serve a special purpose and some are legally necessary. If you are acting as the publisher (of your self-published book), you should still list your name or your company name as the book’s publisher.

The title page typically contains the title of the book (and subtitles if any), the authors names, and the name of the publisher. The table of contents can be up to three or four pages and most often contains the chapter number and its title, and the page on which each chapter begins. Be sure to update your table of contents as your add to or edit the text. The copyright page includes the date of copyright, the copyright notice, the author’s and publisher’s name. If you are self-publishing, you may want to include your website name and email address. It’s fine to include this information and it may actually help the sales of your book.

Take note of the spelling of the word foreword. This page is exactly what you’d expect—a few words about your book before the text begins. This page in the front matter is usually written by someone other than the author that is seen as an authority on the subject matter of the book. The foreword can act as a recommendation to read the book or why the self-published author is qualified to write the book. When self-publishing your first book, it might be hard to find someone to write a foreword for you but a little coaxing sometimes does the trick. Note: don’t make the mistake of many first-time, self-published authors and call this page the forward. It shows a lack of knowledge and is confusing.

The preface. Here, you can talk a bit about why you wrote the book and express your desire that the reader enjoy your book and find it helpful (if it’s a business or self-help title, for example). It’s not necessary to include a preface, but it’s a good chance to create a personal relationship with the reader. And a chance to explain something about your book that the reader might not be aware of.

Most books have an acknowledgments page where the author thanks those who helped them get the book to press such as editors, proofreaders, designers and printers. (If you are self-publishing, you’ll probably know these people personally.) You can even mention the support of your family if you like (writing a book does cut into family time).

Finally, the dedication page is simply that—you are dedicating the book, and all the work that went into it, to someone of great meaning in your life.

One final thought. It’s quite common to number the pages of the front matter in Roman numerals. And the body if the text is numbered with numerals. That way, you can number the first page of your first chapter with the numeral 1. If you are self-publishing, these kind of details can make a big difference and allow you to compete with traditional book publishers.

Phillip Crum is the Chief Idea Officer of MarketingMeasure located at 2414 Arbuckle Court Dallas, TX 75229, and is committed to the idea of helping small business owners do a better job of finding their next customer or client. He and his two sons,Tyler and Preston, also own a Sir Speedy Printing franchise and employ those additional capabilities in the overall marketing services menu of offerings. Phillip can be reached at 214-213-7445, or

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