What is all the crap that goes in the front of a novel? well that’s the front matter. There are standard things which are pretty much required and then there are optional things that occupy the pages before the actual novel starts. What you put on the pages before your story begins is also impacted by the genre of your novel.
The standard pages for every novel are: copyright page, endpapers, and title page.
What’s on the title page? The full title of the book including subtitle and the author’s name. Endpapers? these are the pages at the front of the book and back of the book that hold the book together. One attaches to the cover of the book the other is the first page seen on the right, usually blank or with some design. What’s on the copywrite page? publisher’s name and address, copyright language, ISBN, edition notice, and date of publication. Sometimes there is the author’s contact information.
The other pages you can include are: illustration information, dedication page, half title page, call to action, list of other books, a forward, epigraph, table of contents, character art, map, preface, acknowledgments, introduction, prologue, tables or charts, list of abbreviations, list of pronunciations, frontispiece, and list of contributors. It can be as complicated as you like. Some of this can also be put in the Back Matter, which we’ll talk about next week. For now, let’s go over each of these in turn.
Illustration information: this is what materials were used to create the illustrations. They could be digital art, watercolor, gouache, acrylics, colored pencil, charcoal, markers, pastels, you name it. Whatever was used to create the illustrations is listed. Obviously, this is mostly used in picture books.
Dedication page: this is who the author is dedicating the work to. It can be a person, a group of people (general or specific), a company, an omniscient being, again who or whatever you would like. This dedication can also share a page with something else such as at the top of the copyright page.
Half title page: this page includes only the title of the book and lots of blank space. It is used for the author to sign and include a personal message to the reader/recipient of the book.
Call to action: this can be included in the back matter as well and sometimes both. A call to action includes a bit about the author (not as much as an author page), where you can find the author on social media or a website, there may be a picture of the author but its main purpose is to ask the reader to do something such as follow you on social media or join your mailing list to get updates on your next publication. When including the social media information, make sure to use the icon and also add a link (especially for ebooks).
List of other works: this one is pretty obvious. It would include all the other books in a series, but it can also include any other books the author has written. Usually only books of the same genre but it’s your book so you can list any of your books. You can list only the titles or you can include a thumbnail picture and a link to purchase the book. Links only work in ebooks, but the can also be useful in print books because the reader can then go to a computer/phone (whatever) and type it in to find your book. You can also list or put the icon for the places/websites where it is available.
A forward: this is an essay or short piece of writing done by someone other than the author. It can explain the relationship between the author and the writer of the forward or between the writer of the forward and the story being told.
Epigraph: is a quotation included by the author that is relevant but not essential to the text.
Table of contents: this is included in all non fiction works and in ebooks of any type. It can be simple and just list chapter headings or it can be very detailed and describe the chapter and list subheadings.
Character art: this can be front or back matter. It includes any art created of the characters in the book.
Map: a map of the world or the area where the story takes place.
Preface: is an an introduction to the book and is written by the author. Typically, it covers how the book came into being and where the idea of the book came from. It’s the journey of the book from idea to publication.
Acknowledgments: this can be in the back matter. It can be very short and include only those individuals who were essential in the creation of the book, such as publishers, editors, cover designer, and format designer. It may be extensive and include anyone who was supportive of the author during the process of creating the book including those providing encouragement (family, friends, and professionals), proof readers, research assistants, and beta readers.
Introduction: lists the goals and the purpose of the book.
Prologue: is the opening of the story and provides background details and setting of the story. It comes right before the first chapter of the novel.
Tables and charts: this can be anything that will help the reader understand the content of the book.
abbreviations and/or notes list: this can be included as back matter. It defines any abbreviation used in the novel and any notes specific to each page indicated by a footnote or some other way throughout the text.
Pronunciation: this can be included in back matter. It contains a key to pronouncing the names and places in the book. It can be very helpful in fantasy and Sci-Fi books.
Frontispiece or Frontis: this is a picture or illustration that appears on the page opposite the title page and is an image of something relevant to the story but not necessarily a character or a scene depicted in the story.
List of contributors: this can be other people who contributed to the contents of the book such as: conception or design work, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, drafting, critical revisions. This is usually only applicable to non fiction works.