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How to use a Foreword, Introduction and Author's Note in a Non-Fiction Book

'Front Matter' (buddy of the other end of the book, 'Back Matter'): let's talk about it.

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Front Matter: What's The Difference?

Front matter refers to the extra pages at the beginning of a book that aren’t part of the main content.


Examples of front matter may include:


  • Copyright page

  • Dedications

  • Author’s Note

  • Foreword

  • Introduction

Let's go through what each is and what it includes, so you can choose whether or not you need these sections in your own book.


Copyright page

There is often a lot of fear around the copyright page from new authors who aren’t sure what this means. The word ‘copyright’ sounds legalistic and daunting, but this is a simple page to put together so don’t panic.


The copyright page basically ensures that the content of the book is legally protected and that you have exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display your work. It also makes readers, retailers, and distributors aware of exactly who owns what.


On top of this, if you ever get approached by someone who wants to adapt your book into a screenplay, the copyright indicates who the person would need to gain permission from.


If anyone uses your work without your permission, you can use your copyright page to seek legal recourse. (1)


Your copyright copy should end up looking something like this:


Copyright © 2024 [Author’s name].

All rights reserved.

 

The right of [Author’s name] to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted

by him/her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form

or by any means including photocopying, electronic, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission

of the rights holder, application for which must be made through the publisher.

 

Printed in: [Country]

Edition Number:

 

Paperback ISBN: 0000000000000

Hardback ISBN: 0000000000000


Note: if you are a US author, you need to register for copyright but in the UK, you are considered the owner of the work as soon as the words hit the paper.


Dedications

This refers to the page that usually comes after the copyright text in a book and is a short note written to whomever you want to dedicate your book to.


Some people simply dedicate their book to a loved one:

For Thomas


Some might include a note too:

To Thomas, thank you for everything


Some dedicate it to a relevant cause, charity, or group of people:


To all those out there who have been deeply affected by grief, we stand together


Generally, dedications at the front of the book are kept short and sweet; the main page for thank-yous comes at the back of the book (back matter) in the acknowledgements section.


Author's Note

The ‘About the Author’ page can be used as part of the front matter or back matter. If used at the front of the book, this page should be about the author (you) in relation to the book. In the front matter, it's usually referred to as an 'Author's Note'.


Provide context to the book by explaining something about yourself. This might be something that enables the reader to relate to you, or to have sympathy for you, or be impressed by you—whatever it is, it should confirm to the reader that they have purchased the right book, that it’s going to answer all their problems and they can’t wait to get reading. Like a much more personal Introduction.


For example:


I’m ____, a relationship coach from Somerset, and I wrote this book to ensure that others don’t have to go through the same struggles I did.


My journey started like _____ and now I’m _____ [Personal Anecdote]


If you want results like this, you’re in the right place, and I can’t wait to share my story and my advice with you.


On your Amazon sales page, your Author's Note will also be visible in the 'look inside' tab so if a customer was teetering on the edge of purchasing, the Author's note might be an additional tool to encourage someone to buy.


If the ‘About the Author’ section is at the back of the book, this is your opportunity to write a bit of a bio. In fiction books, authors tend to write a cute piece about where they live with their partner and dog and how they spend a Sunday afternoon. By all means, do this too, but the more important aspects to include as a business owner are:

  • Your credentials

  • Your qualifications

  • Your contact details

  • Your social media handles

  • Any information about how your readers can work with you


If you’re using your book to help reach more clients, this part is absolutely key!


Foreword

A foreword is effectively a big juicy recommendation page from an industry professional who raves about your work and fully endorses your book—a block of text written by someone who isn’t the author (2).


This person may have also given you a quote to use for the front cover of your book. It’s only worth having a foreword if you can get hold of someone who is very well-known and respected in your industry to write one for you. The name needs to be recognisable, otherwise you might as well ask your Aunty Mabel to write it for you, as an unrecognised foreword author will hold no weight when it comes to social proof.


You’ll need to make contact with any relevant professionals for the foreword at the same time you put together your ARC team, PR and endorsement lists.


Introduction

This is slightly different from a foreword and the ‘About the Author’ page. Whilst the ‘About the Author’ note holds a personal tone, the Introduction relates to the main content of the book. It will highlight the book’s context, key messages, and themes that run throughout and will be conveyed in a more informative manner.


Now that you know what each part of the front matter is normally used for, it’s up to you to decide which you want to use. You don’t want to overwhelm the reader with too much front matter (as a reader, we just want to skip to the nitty-gritty bits, right?) so choose wisely and think carefully about the content of each section. Each section in your book should add value and depth to the overall book; don’t just include an introduction for the hell of it because you think you should.


For more information about book layout, formatting and 'Extra Copy', there's heaps more content in my new book 'Self-Publish Your Book Like a Pro' which you can purchase from Amazon here.




References:

1.       Paper True, January 2024, How to copyright a book in 2024, www.papertrue.com/blog/how-to-copyright-a-book/


2.      MasterClass, August 2021, What’s the difference? Preface, prologue, introduction and foreword, www.masterclass.com/articles/preface-prologue-introduction-difference#IPxID6tsAHNtpL5MNEDeO



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