Front Matter: When It Matters

There’s some confusion about when to include front matter and when to leave it out. First, here’s a list of the usual items defined as front matter:

Half Title Page — Which includes the title of the book.

Title Page — The title, any subtitle, author’s name, and publisher’s name

Copyright Page

Copyright Acknowledgments — For reprinted material or material reproduced from the original with permission

Colophon — Production notes about typefaces, name and address of the printer

Dedication — The single most important person/people the author wants to thank!

Table of Contents

Foreword — This is usually written by someone other than the author, often a professional in the field. It usually is used only in nonfiction but an important novel that has already seen success might at times have a foreword

Preface — Often the story of how the book came about

Epigraph  A poem, quotation, or phrase that sets the tone for the book’s message or theme

Prologue  Written by the narrator or a character in the story; must be used carefully as it is often viewed as a weak choice

Acknowledgments — All those folks who helped the author in some way

Introduction — Written by the author to define the purpose and goals of the book

Nearly always, authors will not include any of this material when approaching agents or publishers. The frequent exceptions are the epigraph (fiction or nonfiction) and the table of contents (nonfiction only), the prologue (fiction only) and the foreword (usually only nonfiction).

If you are self-publishing, you do not need to submit this material to your editor. You do need to include it with your manuscript when you send everything to the interior designer.

Note that more ebooks are moving nearly all of the front matter to the rear of the book. This allows a reader to jump right into the work. Readers are also much more likely to read through the materials after they’ve had a satisfactory experience with the book’s content.


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