A book has a basic layout and structure. It includes three parts:

Front matter
Main content
Back matter

We tend to spend all of our time writing the main content of the book and fail to factor in the extra time required to write and organize the front and back matter. This is especially important when self-publishing on a deadline, self-imposed or not. Fear not. This guide will help get you organized and published on schedule. There are some basic rules and some flexibility within them. From researching dozens of published books, variation is shown to be the case.

The Front Matter

Praise for the book

If you have pre-publication reviews, include them on the first page.

Other books by the author

If you have authored many books, include them on the next right-hand page listing them from first to most recently published.

Half Title Page

Sometimes included with just the title centered on the page.

Title Page

The title page consists of the title, subtitle, author name and publishing house, if applicable. If you choose to purchase your own ISBN and created a publishing company, you would include it here. You can use fonts used in the interior of the book or use a black and white graphic mirroring the front cover.

Copyright Page

The copyright page consists of the copyright symbol © (Option + G on a Mac and Alt + 0169 on a PC) by “your name” on the first line. Also include your 13-digit ISBN (and 10-digit, if you have one), a graphic designer, also if you have one, and some legal copy. The Book Designer shares this on his blog for all to use:

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

You may also include the publisher’s name and address, ordering info or website.


The dedication is a very short shout-out to one or more individuals like: To my grandmother or To Julie, Sam and Jessica for your love and support.

Table of Contents

In a printed book, the table of contents includes section and chapter titles along with page numbers. Omit page numbers for an ebook and include a linked table of contents which, when clicked, will bring you to the beginning of the chapter.

Introduction, Preface and/or Foreword

An introduction, preface or even an about the book page are intended to give a framework or set up what is to follow or how the author came to discover the information. It can be used to sell the book or make the book easier to follow.

The foreword (note the spelling) is written by someone other than the author, often an expert, to give additional credence to the subject or author.

Main content

This is the meat and potatoes part of your book.

Back Matter

The information in the back matter is all optional and depends on the book and the goals for the book.

Bibliography or Resources

If you researched material for the book or want to give the reader additional resources to continue their interest on a subject, include the information here.


If there are many technical or unfamiliar terms, this may enhance the reader experience.


If your book is a reference material, include an index to help readers find specific information quickly.

You may also include:

Book club discussion questions
A place for notes
Other materials to enhance the experience for the reader


The acknowledgements are a place for praise for all who have brought the book to fruition. It can be a page or more crediting those who helped with research, design or technical assistance, your family and your cat. It can also be found in the front or back of the book.

About the author

This page is about you. It includes your bio, long or short, and can include your other books, website or contact information. This page is found either in the front or back matter of the book. It is more often found in the back of a work of fiction or an ebook.

You don’t need to include all of these sections in your book. Choose only the parts that are relevant to the type of book you have written. Your best guide is to research similar books at the library or bookstore in your genre. If your book is different from all others, chart your own course. That’s the beauty of being an indie author.

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