Want to make sure you are setting your book out correctly, and understand what is traditionally included in each section? Keep reading to find out!
This is simply where you set out the title, the author, and the publisher in most cases.
This page will contain legal information, and information for readers who wish to look the work up in library catalogues.
Contents include: Copyright notice + contact info for the legal rights holders, ISBN, names of book designer + illustrators + photographer.
Often an author will dedicate a work to someone dear to them, or someone who has helped them tremendously with writing the work. It’s often an expression of love.
This page allows the reader to see, as clearly as possible, the contents of the work in question. Writing a contents page is a bit of an art, because you want to use the fewest number of words to convey the largest amount of information. Brevity is the soul of the contents!
Make sure that your titles convey info to the reader.
Forewords usually introduce the work in question, and give the reader a little information that will enrich the reading experience.
They are often written by someone other than the author, and can be written by eminent people, to give the work credibility.
Basically just a chance to thank people for contributing to the work!
However, there may be a legal / ethical dimension re copyright to acknowledgements. If someone has helped you with an idea or passage, but their contribution doesn’t come up to the standard expected for a co-authorship credit, consider thanking them instead!
Preface / Introduction
This provides a chance for the author to introduce the work themselves, and will often give a framework that the author wants the work to be considered in. For instance, identifying that the theme is poverty.
The author might introduce themselves in this section, and give some biographical details.
In stories, the prologue is a chance to set the scene, and introduce things that happen ‘prior to the story beginning.’ It might introduce a little exposition, or some facts about the world, or it might be designed to introduce a particular tone or theme.
A character ruminating on the nature of justice in a prologue is going to draw the reader’s attention to how depictions of justice play out in the work.
This is where you’ll find the real beginning, middle, and end! Also called ‘Body Matter.’
Literary theorists have been debating the nature of the terms ‘beginning, middle, and end’ forever. Try looking up what Aristotle had to say in this area, for some fun!
Epilogue or Afterword
For things that happen after the story has concluded. Like a little encore. Like a comedian coming back to deliver one more joke.
It can wrap up story lines, or provide a healing (or troubling and surprising) tone at the end of your story. Think of soothing, or providing a little barb right at the end! How do you want to send your reader out into the world?
Addendum / Appendix
Maybe it was written way later than the original body of the work?
Maybe it’s notes on the story that would be too much to include in the main body i.e. for people who want to read much deeper.
Or you could write like Herman Melville and just include entire chapters on whale biology right into your whale of a tale.
Definition of terms in the work.
I love a glossary. They’re like a more user friendly dictionary. I think it’s because they are written with the curious layperson in mind, whereas dictionaries are also intended for the serious academic?
All the info on the sources mentioned in the book, to allow others to look them up!
Instead of footnotes, consider using endnotes!
Personally I like a footnote, which occurs at the bottom of the page in the main body, because then I don’t have to turn to the end to look anything up.
But if your footnote is quite long, then it might interrupt the visual presentation of the book.
Google search for books. It’s a list of people / places / hot topics in your work that someone reckons you might be interested in looking up. For instance it will provide all the page references for every time a certain person is mentioned in the work.
People are often curious about the author, and will turn to this section first in a bookstore environment.
Putting this at the end is a bit like putting the bread and milk at the back of the supermarket. It means your reader has to go through the entire book to get to what they want most!
There’s often a photograph of the author here looking coy, or like they want to eat you, for some reason.