The main parts of a book have altered very little throughout the years.
Not much has changed from the time of hand-written books, through to printed books and now electronic books. All have ordered elements that remain almost the same.
Most people who read your book will have an expectation of where they can find specific information.
For new authors, you should consider this when you prepare a new book for publishing.
The three major parts of a book
There are always three essential parts of any book.
The first is the front matter pages. Next comes the body of the book, which is the story.
Lastly, there is the back matter which follows the main body of the book.
The order is the same for fiction works and nonfiction books.
There are many possibilities for the front and back matter in particular. But in most books, you will only use the most common elements.
The following list consists of twenty-three parts that you can add to a book in the accepted order you should include them.
The list is not a defined rule that you need to follow to the letter.
But it will give you a sense of priority and arrangement when it comes time for you to publish your book.
The front matter elements
1. Title page
It is the one page every book has to have. Of course, you need to include your book title and author name. You can also add your subtitle.
In a print book, it is always on the first right-facing page of the book. However, in some cases, page one is left blank, and the title page appears on page three.
For an ebook, your title page will always be the first page.
2. Copyright page
This page usually appears on the back of the title page.
For most self-publishing authors, the cost involved in paying for full copyright protection might not seem worthwhile.
But you should always add copyright information as basic protection by stating that you wrote the book. You must include the copyright symbol and the year.
You can also add licensing notes and a disclaimer as in the example below.
You can also include your ISBN numbers on this page. Credits for book covers, illustrations or editing can also be added here.
Not every book has a dedication page. But if you decide to add one, it comes after the copyright page.
If you want to add an epigraph, which is a quotation, you include it in the front matter of your book.
You can also have it facing your Table of Contents or the first page of text.
5. Table of Contents
A Table of Contents is the one essential element in any book. In a print book, it is comprised of the chapter titles and may include page numbers.
However, for an ebook, the page numbers must not be added. But you can add chapter numbers if you wish.
6. List of Figures
The only time you would add this page is if your book contains illustrations or perhaps maps. You can include the titles and page numbers.
A foreword is a short piece written by someone other than the author. It is usually signed and dated.
The author writes the preface. It often gives a backstory to how the story came into being.
The acknowledgement page is where you might have a list of contributors. You can also thank people who helped you with writing and creating your book.
An introduction appears before the first chapter of a book. Generally, it is for nonfiction books.
It often contains a short author bio and helps give credibility to the author and the subject matter.
The body of the book
Both fiction and nonfiction books are divided into chapters. Chapter headings and titles give logic and order to a book.
Each heading is listed in the Table of Contents.
In some books, single chapter-opening pages appear before the start of each new chapter.
Some books are divided into parts, with each part comprising of chapters. Often, parts use a number such as Part I, Part II and Part III.
An author writes an epilogue to bring closure to a story.
The author might speak directly to the reader and discuss the fates of the characters or add information that was not entirely relevant to the story.
It is rare nowadays to include an afterword in a book. But if you want to use one, it might deal with the origins of the story or add more context.
You might add a conclusion to a nonfiction book to summarise the arguments contained in the book.
The back matter elements
It is like a p.s. added at the bottom of a letter. It is an afterthought.
An Appendix only appears in nonfiction or historical works. It usually includes sources or documents cited in the text.
Notes or endnotes come after the appendix. You would typically arrange notes by chapter to make them relatively easy to find.
It is a list arranged in alphabetical order of terms or words in the book that might need a definition for each entry to help readers.
This page lists other books or works, including essays or articles by the author.
An index is an alphabetical listing of people, places or events mentioned in the book.
It must include page numbers indicating where a reader can find the entry in the book.
An index is useful mostly for nonfiction books and especially recipe books.
7. Author Bio
This is one part of a book that many authors find challenging to write. It should be short, giving some personal information about the author.
Typically, an author bio uses the first or third person point of view.
8. Other Titles
If you have other books, including them here is a good idea.
It is not mandatory, but adding your other titles in ebook form is very useful. It is because you can create links to your ebooks and other titles on retailers like Amazon or Apple.
You certainly won’t add every one of the twenty-three parts of a book noted in this article.
But it is a good idea to understand where each element belongs in your book.
You will always have a title page, a copyright page and a Table of Contents along with the body section of your book.
For nonfiction, you will use more elements to validate your arguments or reference your citations.
There are no concrete rules, only general concepts of where individual sections of a book belong.
With ebooks, in particular, there is perhaps more flexibility. For instance, you could decide to include your author bio and other titles in the front matter.
However, sticking to the formula is not a bad idea because it will match your book to the expectations of a reader.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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