I see it all the time – and author comes to me with a book ready to be published. The book is done, finally!
Except that it’s missing critical pieces that we’ll need to complete the final publishing layout! While I can (and do) get started with editing, the book still needs some or all of these pieces!
Here’s a breakdown of what’s included in a book (and if they’re “required” or not!)
This is usually a simple sentence where you’re dedicating the book to a person. It’s not a thank you page where you list the people who’ve helped you!
This is where a third party expert will write a few pages introducing you and your book. This isn’t an introduction, exactly, but it serves to bolster your credibility as an author and an expert and can help the book’s credibility by attaching a well-known name to the project. If you don’t have access to a well-known person in the field, an expert with more credentials than you have will work as well.
This is where you introduce the book. It’s NOT a story of why you wrote it or how hard it was to write. NOBODY wants to hear about the struggle of writing! A book’s introduction is to introduce the subject matter, explain to the readers what they’ll get out of it, acknowledge how (and if) they can get more information, briefly introduce you and your expertise, and give them any information or knowledge they must have NOW before they read the book.
Indices, Bibliographies, or Appendices (optional)
Only include an index if your subject matter really needs it! In all my books, only my Camp Cooking 101 book has an index – so people can easily find the ingredients they’re looking for.
The same goes for a bibliography or appendix! Only if it’s needed. Of the three, a bibliography will be the most used – to cite your research.
Call to Action (optional)
In many non-fiction books, you’re going to want to give the reader a way to get more of you – or to contact you. This section (which has varying titles) is where people can come to find out about your seminars, programs, newsletter, etc. or how to hire you for coaching or consulting. It shouldn’t be an afterthought but it’s also not hard-core marketing!
Other Books (optional)
If you’ve written other books, this is where you list the titles and ISBNs. I only list the books I’ve published that are related to the book they’re reading.
If you’ve got a team of people that you want to thank for their support – this is where it goes. This team can be professional or personal and often includes immediate family as well as publishing support staff like editors, publishers, agents, and publicists.
About the Author
People do want to know more about you – this is your chance to tell them! You don’t need to include your life story here. This should be written in third person and often includes professional (relevant) expertise and a bit of personal information like the city/state where you live, what your family or pets are like, and a brief blurb about your hobbies. Be chatty and friendly – but vague is fine!
The About the Author page usually has a nice (i.e. professional) headshot as well!
Other things that a book will have, like the Table of Contents, copyright page, etc. will be done during the publishing layout. Your book should have it but it’s not something that can be pre-prepared.
One more thought:
If you’re writing a book that is a culmination of multiple pieces – like a book of poetry or a cookbook – you MUST set the final order! Rearranging poems or recipes after the layout is done is not only a huge PITA but it’s a good way to increase extra costs for changes!
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