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Professional Book Design: Front Matter and Back Matter (Part 1 of 5):

Ever wonder what to include on all those extra pages in the beginning and end of your book? First-time authors and self publishers often miss the mark on these important pages. This 5-part series will show you how to use these pages to elevate your book to the level of a pro publisher.


Part 𝟭 of 5: 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗙𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘁 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿

Those first pages of a book that you usually shuffle through to get to the good stuff are called Front Matter, and they’re more important than you think.


The first page you see when you open the cover is called the half title or small title page. It traditionally has nothing more than the title of the book. 


An alternative to the half title is to use this page to highlight some great advance reviews or endorsements you’ve received.


A list of other books the author the author has written comes next. If the book is one of a series, or you want to highlight additional books by the author or publisher, they would go on the next page, the left-hand side, known in the biz as “verso” of the half-title page.


Next comes the title page on the right-hand side, or “recto.” The title page shows the title, subtitle, and author in a similar design as it is on the cover of the book. It can also have a small picture, perhaps the same one as the cover or something else that compliments the design and tone of the book. Sometimes the publisher’s logo appears at the bottom.


On the “verso” or the back of the title page, is the copyright page. This is where you protect your intellectual property. At minimum, you need the copyright year, name of the copyright holder, the legal notice ("All rights reserved...), an ISBN, and the publisher’s info. If the publisher’s logo isn’t on the title page, it should be here. 


You can add anything else you want to this page, like a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), disclaimers, credits for design, photos, or illustrations, bulk sales information, contact info, etc. It just all has to fit on one page.


The page facing the copyright page on the right-hand side is where you put the dedication or a special epigraph or quotation.


Turning the page, this left-hand side should be blank, and if it’s nonfiction, the right-hand side is where the Table of Contents begins. If you have a two-page Table of Contents, then you may want to start it on the left so both pages can be seen together. This is just a design choice.


If your book is fiction, a Table of Contents is optional. Most people read fiction from front to back and don’t need to locate any special information like they do in nonfiction.


Remember, the front matter is your chance to make a great first impression, so make it count!

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