The Elements of a Professional Book Interior

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

A book’s interior is comprised of three basic elements: front matter, the body, and back matter. Each element might differ slightly depending on the type of book being published. For example, a non-fiction book will contain an index in its back matter whereas a fictional novel will not. Following is a list a various components you might find within a book’s interior and what their respective purposes are:

The front matter of a book might contain some or all of the following components:

Primary title page: This is usually the very first page of the book in which the title appears on an otherwise blank right-hand page.

Secondary title page: The secondary title page repeats the book title along with the author and publisher’s name on the next right-hand page.

Copyright page: The copyright page will contain the book’s ISBN(s), publication date, copyright owner’s name, and a copyright notice such as, “No portion of this book may be duplicated or used in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) for any profit- driven enterprise without prior permission in writing from the publisher.” If the author also wishes to credit any of the book’s contributors (e.g., photographers and designers), that can also be done on this page.

Quote page: Sometimes a quote will be placed in the front matter if it sums up the essence of the story quite well.

Dedication page: Oftentimes, authors will dedicate their books to their loved ones. That dedication is placed in the beginning of the book.

Acknowledgments page: An acknowledgments page allows an author to provide more detail when crediting the book’s various contributors rather than just listing their names on the copyright page. Here, a heartfelt thank you can be expressed in a much more meaningful way.

Foreword: Usually, a foreword is written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to provide a history leading up to the story being told or explain what inspired the publication of the book.

Preface: Where a foreword is an introduction to the book written by someone other than the author, a preface is an introduction written by the author for the same purpose. An author might also use a preface to explain what methods of research were used during the creation of the work.

Contents: A table of contents lists the various sections (i.e., chapters, articles, poems, et cetera) within the book and that page numbers on which they begin.

The body of a book usually contains at least the following two components:

Title Pages: A title page is used at the beginning of each section within the body of a book. The purpose of the title page is simply to differentiate between the sections to help organize the flow of the work.

Sections: Sections of a book’s body can be divided up as chapters, poems, articles, et cetera. It all depends on the type of book being published.

The back matter of a book might contain some or all of the following components:

Appendix: An appendix contains supplementary details that help to clarify further any legal, technical, or scientific information within the book.

Bibliography (a.k.a. Citations): A bibliography is a list of the books, articles, webpages, et cetera, that were sourced and referred to throughout the book.

Glossary: A glossary of terms contains a list of specialized words that can be found throughout the book along with their definitions.

Index: An alphabetized index is used to help readers pinpoint the exact pages where they can find an important name, place, or subject throughout the book. (It provides a much more precise, defined search result than the table of contents at the front does.)

Promotional Content: A great way to sell your back list titles is to promote them in the back matter of each new release. It is best if you can provide a graphic of each book’s front cover along with the corresponding ISBNs. This way, readers can search for these back list titles online or at bookstores if they wish to purchase them.

Author Biography: An updated author biography helps personalize your book for readers by giving them a bit more information about the storyteller. It is also a great way to promote past titles, thereby increasing the chance of more sales.

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