I have been commissioned to write a true crime book. The Chief of Police who commissioned me also has another one lined up after this so stay tuned!
Anyway, here is the synopsis:
However, because I have always preferred and opted for self-publishing, many aspiring writers ask “what goes in the book and in what order?” so this should help…
Three Major Divisions of a Book:
What are they exactly?
This refers to any pages before the actual body or story. They are usually numbered with lowercase roman numerals
Half-title— (aka: Bastard title) only says the title of the book. It is usually the first page you see when you open a book’s cover. This page is optional as it relates to controlling the length of the completed book.
Frontispiece— is simply an illustration on the verso (of the half-title) which faces the title page. I have never used this.
Title page—is obvious, right? Well it specifies the title, subtitle, author, and publisher of the book. I usually also include the publisher’s location and year of publication, but many author’s also include descriptive text about the book, or other illustrations.
Copyright page—this is usually on the title page for me in addition to a separate copyright page. This page declares the copyright notice, which edition it is, ISBN or other publication information, cataloging data, legal notices, design credits, editing credits, etc.
Dedication—when I first started writing, I thought I had to have a dedication page. Well, once I realized I didn’t have to, my defiance kicked in again and I refused to have them. However, with the current true crime book mentioned above, I likely will include one. Either way, this is optional. If you do include one, be sure it is behind or followed the copyright page.
Epigraph—an epigraph is simply an applicable quotation which is placed near the front of the book. It often shows up facing the Table of Contents or first page of the text. Older books seem to have it on it’s own page but the seemingly new-age style it putting one above the title or heading of each new chapter. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with this option.
Table of Contents—obviously lists all the major sections, categories or parts of the book. Usually it matches the chapter titles. As I started earlier, I tend to put much more detail in my Table of Contents so I can launch my defiant streak and skip the Index.
List of Figures or Tables —I don’t do either of these but, in books with numerous illustrations (aka: figures) or tables, it can be helpful to include a list of them with their titles and the page numbers.
Foreword—In my earlier days of writing, I never knew this was supposed to be written by someone else, lol. In my most recent book, my former supervisor wrote the Foreword. In this currently in-progress true crime book, I will likely have one of my federal agent, homicide detective or other police buddies write it. Anyway, the purpose of this is to provide context for the main work and it should always be signed with the Foreword author’s name, place and date.
Preface—is written by the author and personally I have often left this out and just combined it with the Introduction, the Preface is supposed to tells a separate mini story – that of how the book came to be. I’ve heard it said that it should be signed with the name, place and date of the author but I don’t think that is a hard and fast rule. Well, if it was, I have broken that rule several times.
Acknowledgments—this is where the author expresses gratitude to those who have helped him or her create the book. Like the Dedication so I have chosen one or the other, or combined them on one page. Wow, I really am a rule-breaker huh?
Introduction—another obvious one perhaps. This is where the author explains what the purpose and goal of the book is and often lays out the architecture of the book (organizational scope).
Prologue—this is for fiction books and it sets the story’s scene and is told in a way that it appears a book’s character is typing / saying it. This is not written from the point of view of the author.
Second Half-Title—I don’t know if I have ever seen this but I know it exists because my literature professor in college told me it did. Therefore it must be true, right? lol. Anyway, supposedly the purpose of putting this page here (which by the way, is 100% identical to the first half-title page) is so people don’t forget what book they are reading. I mean, why else is this page recommended after a length frontmatter? If you do include this page, then the following is blank or may contain an illustration or epigraph. Sometimes this page is used to force a chapter to start on the left-hand side. Personally I like chapters to start on the right. I know, I’m weird.
Obviously this is “the book” – “the story” that the reader has been waiting for.
Part Opening—this is for both fiction and nonfiction books. It helps keep chronological order in large historical or structural books. Architecturally this is meta-organization.
Chapter Opening—most all books are divided into chapters as a way of organizing the story or content.
Epilogue—an ending piece like an obituary… you are saying something nice about the book before putting it to rest. This is a form of closure.
Afterword—shit – I don’t think I have ever used one of these, lol. Anyay, another optional section that could be written by the author or contributor.
Conclusion—a brief summary or synopsis of the important opinions or debates of the main body of the book. This serves as a way to end or complete the topic.
This is where you put your resources, notes, ancillary materials and citations.
Postscript—which is latin for “after the writing”. Any afterthoughts you have goes here. Think of it as the Afterword or Conclusion.
Appendix (aka:Addendum)— this is where you place source documents cited in the body, late-minute information or materials that would not fit into the main body, or anything extra that doesn’t go anywhere else.
Chronology—especially in books with significant amounts of history, a chronological list of events can be added for the reader to reflect on should he become confused. This is often combined with the Appendex but author’s have also included it in the Frontmatter. It depends on how important the author considers it to be – how important is it for the reader to read it before the main book? Or will the reader still understand everything clearly if it’s here in the Backmatter?
Notes—endnotes have always confused the hell outta me. I don’t use them but if you are one of those people, lol, this will come after the Appendix and before the Bibliography. These are laid out by chapter so the reader can more easily assimilate them.
Glossary—really… why? Okay, last time I used a glossary was when I was in high school but I guess if you are writing technical books, this would be important.
Bibliography—an alphabetical and systematic list of books, articles, or periodicals that were mentioned in the main body of the book.
List of Contributors—obviously if you are not the only writer in this book, you will want each author or contributor to be acknowledged. In my last published book, I had 22 authors total. Each one wrote a personal essay and, instead of doing a “Contributor” list, I put their picture, short bio, and website on the page after their essay. I liked that better because whenever I have looked at the list of contributors in a book, I get frustrated having to go back to find their story or quote. Either way, this list should appear before the Index but if you are defiant like me, you may move it to the Frontmatter too. Every contributor’s name should be listed alphabetically by last name, even though it appears in first-last name order. Then you can add more information about each contributor such as a brief bio, and academic affiliations. Yeah, I like my way better.
Index—another obvious one. I know… I already told you about my dislike of the Index. However, it is an alphabetical listing of people, places, concepts, events, and works cited along with page numbers so the reader can find them in the main body of the book.
Errata—a notice from the publisher of an error in the book which is caused during the production system.
Colophon—who cares? No really – does anyone care about the typography or history of the typeface used in the book?
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