“Front Matter” Guide for Self-Published Authors

The front matters.

Authors who are new to the self-publishing world often get intimated by front matter. What’s the difference between a preface and a foreword? A foreword an introduction? Which one comes first? And what the heck is an epigraph?

Front matter can seem a little tedious at first, so I’ll walk you through it. Below are the definitions of each piece to the puzzle. They are presented in the same order they should appear in your novel:

  1. Blurbs
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Dedication
  6. Epigraph
  7. Foreword
  8. Introduction
  9. Preface
  10. Prologue

Blurbs

blurb is a short quote about your book, usually written by another author, a publisher, or hey, maybe your mom. Blurbs are printed on the back or rear dust-jacket of a book, but they can also be included at the beginning of a novel (especially if you have lots of praise). You’ll sometimes see them presented as “Praise For.” For ebooks, a blurb page is a great option for marketing your praise, since there isn’t a back cover option.

 

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Lots of praise for Stephen King’s Desperation.

 

Title Page

At the very least, the title page includes the full title of the book (and subtitle), the author’s name, and illustrator’s name (if applicable).

It may also include:

  • Publisher’s name, address, and website
  • ISBN
  • Edition notice
  • Publication date
  • # of printings
  • Disclaimers or warranties

 

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A rather cool title page for Stephen King’s Desperation. His publisher, Pocket Books, is noted, with their various locations.

 

 

 

Copyright

Sometimes included as part of the title page or on its own page. Includes:

  • Copyright notice and year
  • Rights reserved notice
  • ISBN
  • Library of Congress Control Number
  • Disclaimer
  • Permissions notice
  • Credits to editors/designers/etc
  • Publisher name, address, and website
  • Country of printer and printing edition

Table of Contents

Your table of contents is rather self-explanatory, but it’s still necessary to mention. Your table of contents helps readers navigate your book with greater ease.

 

contents

Here’s one of Harry Potter‘s table of contents, which uses the similar wizardly styling as seen throughout the book.

 

Dedication

Different from acknowledgments, which are included in back matter, a dedication expresses who the book was written for, such as your partner, or of course, your mom.

 

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The Series of Unfortunate Events dedications were all written to Beatrice, who was equally loved and killed by Lemony Snicket.

 

 

Epigraph

An epigraph can be a short quote or saying which sets the reader up with the theme of your book. Here are a couple of famous ones:

If they give you ruled paper, write the other way. — Juan Ramón Jiménez
(from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)

In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones. — Sufi proverb
(from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood)

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The Great Gatsby‘s epigraph. Fun fact: D’Invilliers isn’t a real poet; Fitzgerald made him up and wrote this poem himself.

Foreword

A foreword is usually written by someone other than the author, such as an expert in the field or the writer of a similar book. Forewords are more common in non-fiction books than fiction.

A foreword can be used as a marketing tool to add credibility to the book and offer a “stamp of approval.” Think of it as an opening statement that pitches the book and its author.

Fun fact #2: “Foreword” is one of the most misspelled words in the English language! (Okay we made that up, but it probably is.)

Introduction

This one is written by the author as an introduction to the book’s topic and related content. This section introduces what is covered in the book, such as themes and concepts. Relates more to the book’s content than the preface does.

Preface

Written by the author to explain the book’s existence and its creation. Explain why you wrote the book, or use it to add credibility and show your experience in the field.

Can also be used to acknowledge others who helped along the way.

Prologue

Written by the author, mainly for fiction novels. The prologue is a story that doesn’t take place in the same timeframe as the rest of the book. That said, it still contains the same theme as the rest of the book.

 

And there you have it, front matter! Feeling better yet? As always, if you have any questions about front matter or anything else, comment below or shoot us a message on our Contact page.

 

 

 

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