What is Front and Back Matter? (Indie Publishing Glossary)

Front or back matter refers to everything in a book that is not part of the story or the primary nonfiction content of a book. 

In the context of indie publishing, front and back matter most often refers to the "extras" authors put in the front of their ebooks (usually placed between the title page and the table of contents) and in the back of their ebooks after the end of the story.

Some standard components that should always be included in the front of the book, such as a title page, a copyright page, or a table of contents, are sometimes encompassed in the term front matter.

Prologues and epilogues are part of the story itself and are not considered part of the front or back matter.

Here are the best practices on what indie authors may choose to place in either the front or the back of their ebooks. These are optional but highly recommended. You'll rarely pick up a book by an established author that doesn't include these components in the front and back matter:

👉A list of other books or series written by the author. This is usually placed at the back, but sometimes authors put it both front and back.  

If you have just a few books, list each individual title.

If you have a large backlist, listing the series may work better.

Either way, if your book is part of a series, make sure your reader can effortlessly go on to the next title by placing a prominent link to it right after "the end."  Jason Kasper does this very well at the end of his thriller, Narco Assassins.

Note: Click on the examples for a larger view.

👉A link inviting the reader to join the author's newsletter (often with the offer of a free novella, short story, or bonus scene). This is often placed both front and back. Because it takes up so little room, it is often placed just below the copyright notice at the front and then again somewhere after "the end." Below is how Rich Amooi invites his readers to subscribe to his newsletter in the back of his romantic comedy, Stick a Cork in It. 

Here are some of the "extras" that are not considered necessary but you may want to include. Front and back matter is an excellent place to promote your other titles and to encourage your readers to connect with you on social media: 

Include a trigger warning right before the story if your book deals with sensitive issues. This is the trigger warning that Kortney Keisel put in her front matter for her romantic comedy, Compared. 

A sample chapter or "sneak peek" at the next in the series or other similar book by the author. This is always placed at the back of the book.

A link inviting the reader to leave a review. This is always at the end, usually immediately after the story concludes. Below is what Penelope Bloom put at the end of her Romantic Comedy, Once Upon a Grump. Notice that she includes an encouragement for her readers to flip over to the next page, where she has a sneak peek of her next book. 

A link inviting the reader to join the author's reader group or to follow them on social media. Below is how Rosie A. Point invites her readers to connect with her in the front of her cozy mystery, Murder Over Easy.

A link to the author's website. This is often placed on the copyright page below the copyright notice.

Acknowledgments can be placed either front or back.

Dedications are always placed at the front. 

An author bio is usually placed at the back. Below is an example of a great author bio by Margaret Lashley in the very back of her humorous mystery, Moth Busters.

An author's note (similar to a foreward) if the author has some personal connection to the story or content of the book, is usually placed at the front but can also be at the back. 

A playlist of songs related to the story.

A quote related to the theme of the story. 

A map of the setting. These are most common in fantasy and occasionally mysteries.

A glossary if your book contains lots of slang, regional language, or any words that might be unfamiliar to your target reader. 

Don't forget to feature the main components of your back matter, such as sample chapters or a list of your other titles by giving them a place in your table of contents. 

What is commonly included in the front and back matter can vary widely by genre, so the best way to get a feel for best practices specific to your story is to look at what authors writing similar titles are doing. 

Conventions for print books are slightly different (and more rigid). I've embedded an excellent overview of the front and back matter conventions for print books below.

Post a Comment