DIY Publishing - Everything You Need to Know About Book Matter

August 1, 2016

You’ve got your manuscript in top shape, but there’s more to a book than the story when your publishing it yourself. While you may have never heard of book front matter or back matter (who decided on “matter” anyway) they’re the first step to turn your hard work into a professional book.

First, you need to lay aside the author in you to dig into the business of your book.

Quick formatting note before be we begin – include a manual page break at the end of each section. It’ll save you a step when we get to fully formatting your book next. Now, on with the fun.

You’re going to add the following sections before and after your narrative:


  • Title Page
    The title page is as simple as your book title, your name and your publishing company. You may want to use an image for your title if you want to use your cover font or embellish the title with some design.

    Then a paragraph return or two and your name, probably in your book font. And then two paragraph returns and the name of your publishing company, probably in a smaller font and a logo if you have one.

    You don’t need to worry too much about the spacing between elements yet. We’ll get to that next in the book format.

  • Copyright
    There’s no hard and fast way to format a copyright page, though there are a few guidelines. Here’s a basic example of information you may want to include:

    [Book Title]
    [Publishing Company]
    All rights reserved.
    Copyright © [year] by [Your Name]
    (I include the following line which is pretty standard) “No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form without written permission except in the case of brief quotations.”
    [Attribution for your cover photo and/or cover design along with any other graphic or design elements you need to properly credit]
    ISBN: [number] (see below for information on an ISBN)
    First Edition : [Publication month year]

  • A page of your other books, if you have them
  • Maps and Genealogies, again if you have them
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements


  • Back Matter
    I had never heard of Back Matter until I began researching self-publishing for Tattered Heart. The end of your novel, however, is a great chance to connect with your readers in a more direct way.

    If you have additional books, you can include an excerpt. You can provide links to your social media accounts, encourage reviews, provide a link to join your mailing list, even just thank them for reading your book. You can find a good example of back matter at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University.

    I also include the About the Author section in the back matter.

Obtaining an ISBN

The one cost when publishing a book yourself is obtaining the ISBN. Most distributors have an option to provide one for you. It will save you money but it’s not in your best interest. In fact, if you don’t own the ISBN assigned to your book then you really aren’t the publisher.

It’s a fine line in the digital world between the distributor and the publisher, one you may not notice on a day to day basis. But if anyone has an inquiry about your book, they will direct it to the publisher.

When you are the publisher, you chose (and most importantly can change) the distribution companies you choose to work with. If you let Amazon assign an ISBN then they become the publisher of record with Books in Print, the international database of books which is accessed by search engines, bookstores and libraries. The publisher controls the book’s bibliographic record with Books in Print and controls how it is searchable.

If you want more details on why it’s important to own your own ISBN, this is a good resource.

It’s easy enough to obtain your ISBN. Create an account with Bowker. Then you can buy as many ISBNs as you need. I recommend the package of 10 as this will allow you to assign a different number to your paperback and ebook. And you will have additional numbers available for your next book.

Once you have all the pieces together, you’re ready to start formatting your book.

Pin it up:
guy with dogAnd check out the entire DIY Publishing series!

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