The Anatomy of a Book

Ah, so you’ve written a book, eh? Now it’s time to format? Overwhelming? What goes where? I feel you.

When the time came to format my first paperback, Don’t Say “I Do”, I tore through my shelves to inspect almost every book I owned. Some books had acknowledgments at the beginning of the book? Some had notes from the author? Some had forewords? It was almost too much

As you can imagine, I worked myself into a tizzy over this. But, now, I have learned enough to speak with some confidence about how a book is formatted. If you’re like me, and you’re prone to profound bouts of existential dread, this quick and easy cheat sheet might be everything you need to stop the panicked-gremlin brain from switching on.

Anyway, let’s get started. 

We’re going to break up the book into three different sections. Those being: Front Matter, Main Body, and Back Matter. Super simple, right? 

Let’s get into it. 

Front Matter

Blurbs (Praise for Author Name)

Usually located at the very, very front of the book, the “blurbs” page is intended to show the reader what other people think of your writing (otherwise known as “praise for the author”). These kind words can be what convinces someone to read your book!

I’ll write more about “blurb” pages in the future, but for now, here’s the quick and dirty: stick to authors/relatively better-known reviewers/publications, keep the blurbs short and concise (give or take 100 words), do not exceed one page (front and back), and put the most impressive stuff at the top! There you go! The quick and dirty!

Title Page

Rather self-explanatory! Your Title Page is just that! Your title! Though, there is some more information to include!

  • Title
  • Subtitle (If Applicable)
  • Series Name (If Applicable) 
  • Author
  • Contributors
  • Ebook ISBN
  • Publisher
  • Publisher’s Link
  • Publisher’s Logo 

Half Title Page

Like the Title Page, this page has a lot of the same information. It serves the same purpose, which means you only need to include one of these bad boys. The Half-Title Page makes more sense when applied to self-published authors who don’t have to worry about properly crediting contributors, etc. To make a Half-Title page, you’ll need to include the following information: 

  • Title
  • Subtitle (If Applicable)
  • Series Name (If Applicable)
  • Author
  • Contributors
  • Ebook ISBN

Sometimes called the “reverse title page”, this page holds all of the important information regarding your book. This page, while often overlooked by the reader, is probably the most important to us as authors. This page is our protection. So, learn it, love it, and give it a little friendly pat. Anyway, the copyright page is often called the “reverse title page” because it’s printed on the back of the title page. Nifty, huh? Anyway, let me walk you through what you need for this page: 

  • Fiction Disclaimer (if applicable)
  • Copyright Date and Your Name
  • All Rights Reserved
  • Legal Claims
  • Paperback Edition
  • Additional Credits (Book cover artist, formatting, illustrations)
  • ISBN(s)
  • Published by/author’s website

I know it looks like a lot, but I promise, it isn’t! I’ve put everything together, so you can just copy and paste it later!

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely accidental.

Copyright © 20XX by Your Name

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

First paperback edition Month 20XX

Book design by Person
Illustrations by Person
Book formatted by Person
Book edited/proofread by Person (optional)

ISBN XXX-X-XXXX-XXXX-X (paperback)

ISBN XXX-X-XXXX-XXXX-X (ebook)

Published by Publishing House

www.yourwebsite.com

Dedication

The page where you dedicate it to someone special. Your partner, your parents, the cup of coffee that kept you going, or your anxiety blanket!

Epigraph

An epigraph is a quote that appears at the beginning of the book. You can choose a quote from another work that sets the tone of your story. Or, you can choose a quote from your own work. I, as a fiction writer, have enjoyed using the epigraph’s page to showcase a quote from a book within my world! The world is your oyster, friend!

Table of Contents

A table. Of contents. These seem to have fallen out of vogue (particularly in ebooks). But some of us are sticklers for tradition. Feel free to put one in if it brings you joy!

Forewords, Prefaces, and Introductions

I have decided to lump these three together because, often, only one exists, as these three serve the same purpose. However, it is important to know the difference between these content pages, so as not to confuse them and look silly, later on. 

Forewords are passages written by someone else to, more or less, sell the book. It is their job, in this piece of writing, to explain why a reader should read on. 

Prefaces are like forewords, except, they are written by you, the author.

Introductions are just that. Introductions. They introduce the subject material that will be found in the following pages.

Main Body

This is the main body of your book! In the future, I may write a blog about how chapters can be formatted, but today is not that day, friend. All you need to know is that the important write-y bits go here. Now, let’s move on!

Back Matter

Afterword

Afterwords are interesting in that they vary in purpose. Though, to save space and time, we’re going to grossly oversimplify their intended purpose by saying that it’s a space for you, the author, to explain the origin story of your book.  

Acknowledgments

The acknowledgments section is where you acknowledge everyone who has helped you along the way with writing your book. This can be other writers, readers, reviewers, editors — partners, family members, that bully in middle school who told you that you were a loser and would never amount to anything. Whoever you feel is owed a shout-out gets some love in this section! This section can be put either in the front matter (before the main content and optional preface/foreword/introduction), or the back matter, after the optional afterword and before the “About the Author” page.

About the Author

A short little blurb about yourself, your social media handles, maybe a picture if you’re feeling like showing off that gorgeous mug of yours. It’s pretty simple!

Also By

The “Also By” page is unique in that it, like the acknowledgments page, can be put either in the front matter of the book or in the back matter. My general rule of thumb is that it goes at the very front (unless you have a blurbs page, in which case, it goes behind that), or at the very back. This page has a list of your other titles!

In Conclusion

See? It’s not all that bad! It just seems more intimidating when you’re trying to figure out what parts go where. I hope this blog has proven to be helpful to you!

Did I miss anything in my anatomy of a book blog? Did you learn anything new? Feel free to sound off in the comment section down below! I love to hear from you guys!


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