Front Matter

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.

Margins and Bleeds



Margins are way more important than you might think. They actually have a lot of jobs. They provide space for the readers fingers, make your text easier to read, they are space for readers to write notes, keeps your text out of the gutter, provide space for headers and footers.

So how big should a margin be? It depends on the size of your book. The centerfold will include the gutter depth as well, so it is a larger margin by 0.15 to 0.2 inches. The margin at the bottom of the page contains your page numbers and is typically a little larger than the margin at the top. You will want to look at different sizes of books and get an idea of what is standard for the size and genre you are publishing in.

Kindle Direct Publishing has a minimum margin of .25. This is really only so your text doesn’t end up in the gutter or off the side of the page during printing and cutting. You should not use a margin this small. There needs to be enough white space (negative space) on the page to make it easier to read.

Many self-published authors choose smaller margin sizes to make more text fit on a page because it is then cheaper to print the book which means higher royalties for the author or so it looks at first sight. The issue is you may sell less books because of this formatting fopaux.

There are other ways to make sure you get the most words on each page. The easiest is to try different typefaces (font). You can get a lot of variation even with the same size of font just because of the style you have chosen. Examples

The red hen clucked at her chicks, who peeped at the mouse scurrying off with their seeds. (Bahnschrift light)

The red hen clucked at her chicks, who peeped at the mouse scurrying off with their seeds. (Adobe Devanagari)

The red hen clucked at her chicks, who peeped at the mouse scurrying off with their seeds. (Flamingos)

The red hen clucked at her chicks, who peeped at the mouse scurrying off with their seeds. (Garamond)

The above four typefaces are all the same size (11). For most books you are looking for 30 to 35 lines of text per page.

Another important term you may see thrown around when discussing margins is the “bleed.” Bleed is the very very edge of a page. Typically picture books have a bleed. Novels, in most cases, do not have a bleed. With a picture book you want to make sure that the pictures go right to the edge of each page. The bleed edge is just slightly outside of the trim edge. The trim edge is where the page is cut. Having a bleed ensures that if the page shifts during cutting your picture still goes to the edge of the page.

Happy writing!

Book Size

What size of book, or trim size, are you planning for your work in progress? As everyone knows, size does matter. You want your book to fit in with the rest of those in its genre. Size impacts the number of pages of your book, the number of words per page, the margin size. Size also effects the cost of printing. Cost of printing changes the price of the book and the amount of royalties the author gets. So, again size matters.

We’re going to be talking in inches for this most. Inches are used in the US and millimeters pretty much everywhere else. And like most American’s I would have to use a conversation calculator to get the millimeters and thus just resort to using inches and hoping everyone else can convert. Sorry.

Typical paper back fiction novel sizes include 6 x 9, 5.5 x 8.5, 5.25 x 8, 5×8, and 4.25 x 6.87. Non fiction are 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x9, and 7 x10. Hard back novels are typically 6 x9 to 8.5 x 11. For children’s books you find 7.5 x 7.5, 7 x 10, 8 x 8, 8.5 x 8.5, 10 x10, and 10 x 8. Novellas are usually 5 x 8.

Here is an example about how size impacts costs:

100 pages = $4.45 on KDP and $3.58 on ingramspark

150 pages = $3.95 on KDP and $3.58 on ingramspark

200 pages = $3.35 on KDP and $3.58 on ingramspark

Why Ingramspark stays the same? I have no idea. Obviously cost of printing should not be the most important thing you consider when choosing the size of your book. First you need to check what sizes are offered by the printer/publisher you are using. Then look at your genre and see what some of the standard sizes are, then take into consideration the costs of printing.

Font Sizes and Styles

What size font (typeface) you use depends upon the type of book you are writing. The size of the font should correlate with the reading ability of your audience. In a novel for young adults and up you can get away with a 10.5 at the smallest. You probably don’t want to go larger than a 12 unless you are writing specifically for geriatric readers, in that case, you may want to go up to a 13. In picture books you don’t want to be smaller than a 16.

The smaller your font size, the more words you can fit on a page. The more words on a page the less pages you have. The less pages, the cheaper it is to print. The cheaper it is to print, the lower the cost is for your readers. The lower the cost, the more books you sell. The more books you sell, more royalties you get. You get the point.

The style of font will impact the size of font you choose. Some styles are just bigger or smaller than others. If you choose something with flare, it may need to be larger to make it more readable.

Speaking of flare in your font style, it is not recommended. Go with simple and professional fonts. Less curves is better. Really the only time you should be diverting from this is for your title, chapter headings, and to make an example of font style. Okay, okay you can get away with more fun styles in children’s picture books. Even in picture books they have to be easy to read. The audience is trying to learn their letters, so they should be able to easily recognize them in uppercase and lowercase.

Type up a paragraph or page (using 1.2 or 1.3 line spacing) and try reading it as you would a book. As other people in the age group of your audience to read it. Is it easy to make out the words? do you have to hold it closer? are their particular letters that are more difficult to make out?

If you are seriously stuck on a font style and there is some difficulty reading it, try increasing the space between letters (google how to do this in the word processing program you use).

Of course people have researched what size font is best for various ages. Here are some general guidelines based on age of the reader:

AgeType Sizecharacters per line
under 72430
7 to 81838
8 to 91645
9 to 101452
10 to 121258
over 121160

Happy and productive writing and editing.

Details Found in Formatting

Some formatting details you may not have noticed when reading your favorite book include the first paragraph of each chapter and each section not having an indentation and the first page of each chapter does not have a page number. Speaking of page numbers, they do have to alternate between the right side and the left side of your manuscript unless you just say, “to hell with it.” and put them in the center of the page. And, yes the paragraphs are justified. How in the hell do you get that header, which also alternates on each page, to say your author name and the title of the book? Also it doesn’t appear on the first page of the book or on the first page of each chapter.

The first time I formatted a book, I was surprised by the number of little details that go on in those pages that I hadn’t even noticed but surely would have if they hadn’t been lurking about. Don’t forget that the chapter header font needs to match your title page and your title page most likely matches your cover page. Seriously? Learning to do the formatting can be a challenge. This is why many indie authors choose to hire someone to format their book for them, which costs chah-ching ($$). I was overwhelmed and daunted by doing formatting. I had tried to format professional papers and school papers and remember just fighting with the program. The program won, of course. It has more endurance.

Honestly the best way to format is to begin with the formatting already set and then use the document to write your manuscript. Many authors (yes author not writer, you really do have to think of yourself as an author from the beginning even if you don’t say it out loud to anyone but yourself) use a writing program such as scribus (scribus.com it’s free) ywriter (ywriter.com also free) and scrivener. Some of these programs have templates you can use and then you can export it to Word or whatever macs use.

If you use one of these programs, use YouTube and find someone who is doing some tutorials. Many of the programs offer tutorials on their website, but if it doesn’t make sense to you, find someone else. I guarantee that there are at least five other tutorials on YouTube.

Final notes, fiction and non-fiction use different formatting. Each genre has its own quarks, so do your research.

Formatting a Book

Formatting a book can be very time consuming. It can also be insanely frustrating, if you are not familiar with the program you are using. Let’s just say there is a steep learning curve. However, once you understand what needs to be done and how to do it. It will only take about a quarter of the time to do it.

So how do you learn what needs to be done to format your book? There are a couple of ways to figure this out. First, you can get a bunch of books from the genre you are writing in and delve in and look at every detail of the formatting. This can be difficult because much of formatting is things you don’t notice, which is good formatting. You don’t want people to notice little things. That said, formatting is also very important because you don’t want your book to look drastically different from other published books in your genre.

The second option to hire someone to format your book. As indie authors, money is tight and it is often more appealing to learn how to do something on our own. It can be very time consuming initially but in the long run, if it’s something you have to do for every book you publish, it may be worth the time investment.

Third is to get on YouTube and search for book formatting. It is a little difficult to find specific information, at least that I could find. But what this searching did provide was another resource. http://www.dyibookformats.com. Derek Murphy is the creator of this site and the templates that are available there. He has a free template you can download and he also has YouTube videos about how to use it and how to format. You can also pay a very minimal amount to get all of his tutorials about formatting.

Ideally, you will set up your formatting from the beginning rather than writing the entire first draft and then go back to format. You can do it either way. It’s up to you. If you haven’t formatted from the beginning, you will have to go in chapter by chapter section by section and format. In Microsoft word you can set up Styles and this is how you make sure every heading, font and spacing are the same throughout your book.

Check out dyibookformats.com

Book Release August 31st

book cover

I’m so very excited. After four and a half years of work by the author Nicole Lowe, Never Let Me Go: a memoir, is being published. You will be able to order a paperback or ebook on Amazon on August 31, 2016!

Here is an overview:

Nikki’s story is terrifying and heart wrenching, but most of all it’s full of hope.  Readers will move between Nikki’s life on the streets and her life in the courtroom representing the state in a trial to terminate the parental rights of a mother stuck in a cyclone of drug use, violence, and life on the street so similar to her own.

Nikki’s trials began at the age of thirteen when she decided drinking alcohol, sloughing school and having sex were her new path in life. She attempted suicide and began running away from home soon after. By fourteen, she had created a new identity within an alternate reality full of vampires, werewolves, elves and magic. She joined a vampire coven running the streets in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah.

She was raped shortly after her fourteenth birthday by a rival coven member and in order to gain a sense of security and protection Nikki began a relationship with a man who was ten years her senior. He became controlling, intimidating and violent.

She latched on to hippy boy who freed her from the violent relationship by stealing a car and fleeing to California. They hitchhiked up the western coast selling drugs, using acid, and following the Grateful Dead. Sometime after her 15th birthday, she returned to Utah only to run again within two weeks taking her older brother along. She continued using, selling, and believing she was destined to change the world in some remarkable way.

Shortly after her seventeenth birthday, she realized she was pregnant. The tiny fingers and blue eyes of her son brought her back to reality and propelled her on the journey to becoming an assistant attorney general for the state of Utah, author, and ultrarunner.

To My Writing Followers

self pub

This is an exceptional resource for self-publishing authors. The internet is overloaded with information about self-publishing. As a first time author, it’s difficult to know where to turn to figure out this once “secretive” business of publishing. Joel and Betty’s book, The Self Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide, is exactly what its title proclaims it to be. You will find hundreds of options to assist you from concept all the way to self-published book. The resources are listed as you would need them in the creation process, beginning with developing and editing your manuscript and concluding with promotion of your finished novel. Each resource includes a brief description of the types of manuscripts they have experience with or their area of expertise, thus making it easier to find what you are looking for as an author.

Unfulfilled Needs

I am Writing

Without conflict, there is no story. We’ve all heard it a million times. But what fuels the conflict? The unfulfilled need of your protagonist, of course. The need of your protagonist must be deep enough to get you through your entire story. It also has to be something the reader can relate too, otherwise even if it creates tons of conflicts and you can pump out 100,000 words, your reader won’t care and will set the book down.

How do you come up with a need that is relatable? Pick something that is basic to all people. Take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, according to Maslow’s theory people have five levels of needs and if one level is not satisfied a person is not going to be able to move forward in their development.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

Physiological needs: food, water, warmth, rest

Safety needs: security, safety

Belongingness and love needs: intimate relationships, friends

Esteem needs: prestige and feeling of accomplishment

Self-actualization needs: achieving one’s full potential including creative activities.

If your character doesn’t have food, water, warmth and rest, it will be difficult for him to focus on the next level, although they may have needs there as well.

Life is not as straight forward as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs would like us to believe. Most people are addressing needs from three or four of these levels at the same time and your characters should be the same.

The protagonist of your story may have physiological needs, belonging and love needs, and self-actualization needs. Having various levels of needs is going to supply you with lots of opportunities for conflict and growth in your character’s arc. Just as important, your reader will be able to identify with these needs and feel strongly about what happens to your protagonist and any other character you supply with a need (and you should your minor characters should have needs just like your major characters).

Identifying your characters needs will make creating a back-story and understanding your character easier for you as well. The more you know about your character the easier it is to keep their actions and responses to conflicts realistic and true to who they are as a person or whatever they happen to be.

Creative Head Space

I am Writing

Many writers are able to schedule time to write at the same time each day of the week. Having a set time prepares your mind to be creative and to get into the mood.

Other’s create a space in their home or office where the magic happens. Their brain kicks into creative mode when they sit down.

Still other’s listen to a particular type of music and warm their fingers around a mug of coffee or tea, to stir the muse to life.

Is all of this necessary to get into that creative head space? No, but routines such as these can be helpful setting the stage. All these routines tell our body and mind, “Ok, it is time to focus on this creative thing we do.”

Even with all these preparations and cues to set us up to be creative, at times we sit there staring at the blank page with a dismally empty mind. Then what? Should you get up and walk away or sit there waiting patiently for something to come to you? I walk away. If the words won’t come and the movie isn’t playing on the screen of my mind, I find something else to do for a while.

There are three things I do that are helpful to me at times like this, first, I can go for a run. Running wakes me up and gets me to focus. My mind is free to wander and let go of any stressors that may be clogging the creative drain. The second thing that I find helpful is listening to podcasts on the writing craft. This spurs new ideas and new perspectives on old ideas. The third thing is similar to the second, I read books on the craft or blogs.

I never just sit there trying to come up with something because all I manage to do is become frustrated and produce total crap that will be deleted the next time I look over my work in progress. I always have more than one project going at a time, so if I’m just not in that creative zone needed to produce new scenes, then I turn to editing, researching or outlining.