Books consist of many components, all of them important when creating a full, complete, and professional work. One of these components that often causes self-published authors pause is the Front Matter and Back Matter.

While these components are in two separate locations in the book (the front and the back), they serve essentially the same purpose: they bookend you content, propping it up with important information that your reader may not need, but should have available. Allow me to elaborate.

Front Matter

The front matter is everything on the pages leading up to the actual content. This will include title pages, copyright, dedication, acknowledgments, and a table of contents. Now this is self-publishing, so none of this content is mandatory (except the copyright page for a book in distribution) but it is best practices to hold to some publishing industry standards.

A common layout for front matter pages might look like this:

  1. Half title
  2. Blank
  3. Full title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication (Optional)
  6. Also by {{Author Name}}
  7. Acknowledgments (Optional)
  8. Blank
  9. Table of Contents

From here, you’ll start your contents, remembering that odd pages appear on the right, so you may have to insert a blank page to locate your first contents page on the correct side of the book. Again, how you organize and utilize all of the front matter materials is up to you. The above example is a common layout and one many authors use. You may need to edit to suit your specific needs. For example, some authors prefer to add the Acknowledgments to the back matter.

Its also common to use a different font or a slightly smaller font for the front matter. This serves as a visual clue for readers, so they’ll know when the book’s contents begin.

Back Matter

The back matter should be after the contents end. This material serves to prompt your reader to continue engaging with you and your work. The back matter consists of the following pieces:

  • Acknowledgments (Optional)
  • About the Author
  • Advertising for back list or upcoming titles
  • Sample from a forthcoming title
  • Connections to your social media, author website, and Newsletter

You can be creative with your back matter more so than your front matter. The goal is to prompt readers to continue to engage, so a call to connect is a very good idea. Using images here can be very effective too. Include an image with your about the author page. Show an image of your forthcoming title’s cover. Even if you’re printing in black & white, having an image will catch your reader’s eye. If they pause only a moment on the page, they might see your call to connect, like you on Facebook, subscribe to your newsletter or blog, and be that much more likely to buy your next edition.

Remember, there is no strict formula for setting up the front and back matter for you book. These elements bookend your content, the front matter providing specifics related to the content primarily, and the back matter focuses on keeping your reader invested after they’ve consumed the content. Make the most of your book, include high quality front and back matter.