Self-publishing: writing front matter and end matter
So, you’ve written your manuscript – whether that be a novel, memoir, non-fiction, book of poetry, or something else – and you want to self-publish it. The next step in self-publishing is copy editing.
Oh, but wait – something else needs to be written: the front matter (and optionally, end matter as well).
What is front matter and end matter?
Every book is comprised of not only the main content, but also what we call ‘front matter’ or ‘prelims’ (preliminary matter). Sometimes it also includes ‘end matter’.
Who should write the front and end matter?
When self-publishing, it is usually the writer’s job to write most of the front and end matter and decide what order to put it in. But sometimes the writer shares the decision about where to put the different sections of front or end matter with the graphic designer or editor. And sometimes the self-publisher decides to include front matter written by someone else (e.g. a foreword).
If the writer is being assisted by a self-publishing services provider (like myself) then those decisions are made by the self-publishing services provider in consultation with the writer.
If you’re not experienced in self-publishing, you can ask an editor or a self-publishing services provider to offer guidance about what to include in the front or end matter, or you can pay them to write most of it for you.
When all the front and end matter has been written and added to the main content of the book, it will need to be copy edited, prior to graphic design.
Below are basic lists of what usually comprises the front, and end, matter.
Front matter is essential, but some sections that can be included in the front matter are optional. The front matter comprises:
- half-title page – this is the first recto (right-hand) page in the book. It shows the title and author’s name. It can be a replica of the front cover, or a simpler version,
- optional: larger books often have a ‘title page’ in addition to the half-title page. It again shows the title and author’s name, and may also show other information about the publication,
- copyright page, or publications information page – this is situated on the verso (back) of the half-title page or the title page. It contains publications information such as copyright ownership, ISBN numbers, legal information such as disclaimers, sometimes the editors’ or designers’ names, and creators/copyright owners of the images on the front and/or back cover or inside pages,
- optional: dedication page,
- optional: epigraph (a short quotation at the beginning of the book),
- optional: acknowledgements; this may instead be in the ‘end matter’,
- optional: ‘about the author’ information; this may instead be in the ‘end matter’,
- table of contents (this should not be written manually; it will be automatically generated in the graphic design process,
- optional: foreword (usually by someone other than the author),
- optional: preface (usually by the author)
- optional: introduction (by the author), setting the scene; usually in non-fiction works,
- optional: prologue (by the author), setting the scene; usually in fiction works,
- optional: glossary; this may instead be in the ‘end matter’, and
- optional: any maps, illustrations or other images that you choose to include in the front matter rather than elsewhere in the book.
End matter is optional. That is, whether to include end matter in your book depends on the book and on your personal preferences.
Some self-publishers prefer certain information to go into the end matter rather than into the front matter. For example, if there is a lot of ‘extra material’ that does not belong in the main content, it can be ‘shared’ between the front and end matter so that the book is not too ‘top-heavy’ with front matter content.
The following can (as an option) be included in the end matter rather than in the front matter:
- ‘about the author’ information,
- any maps, illustrations or other images that you choose to include in the end matter rather than elsewhere in the book.
More information for self-publishing writers
- The editor’s role
- The steps of producing a hardcopy book
- The steps of getting your self-published book designed.
Image: thanks to Pixabay – Gerd Altman.
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